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Psephology /sɨˈfɒləi/ (from Greek psephos ψῆφος, 'pebble', which the Greeks used as ballots) is a branch of political science which deals with the study and scientific analysis of elections. Psephology uses historical precinct voting data, public opinion polls, campaign finance information and similar statistical data. The term was coined in the United Kingdom in 1952 by the historian R. B. McCallum to describe the scientific analysis of past elections.


Psephology also has various applications specifically in analysing the results of election returns for current indicators, as opposed to predictive purposes. For instance, the Gallagher Index measures the disproportionality of an election.

Notable psephologists[edit]

Main article: List of psephologists

Notable psephologists include Australia's Antony Green[1] and Malcolm Mackerras (who devised the Mackerras Pendulum); and Americans Michael Barone, who has published The Almanac of American Politics biennially since 1972, Nate Silver whose website FiveThirtyEight tracks US voting trends, David Butler and Robert McKenzie, who co-developed the swingometer, Charlie Cook, publisher of The Cook Political Report, Indian academic Yogendra Yadav, and Curtis Gans, author of Voter Turnout in the United States, 1788-2009.[2]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • William Safire. New Political Dictionary, Random House, New York 1993.

External links[edit]

  • ACE Project – Comprehensive information resource for Electoral Design and Administration. Includes much comparative data on elections and electoral systems
  • 'Psephos' Dr. Adam Carr's Elections Archive
  • International IDEA – International Organisation providing (amongst other things) statistical analysis of elections and electoral systems


  1. ^ Green, Antony. "Election Blog". ABC. 
  2. ^ Gans, Curtis (2010). Voter Turnout in the United States, 1788-2009. CQ Press. ISBN 978-1604265958.