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Psephology /sˈfɒləi/ (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 is a division of political science that deals with the examination as well as the statistical analysis of elections and polls. People who practice psephology are called as psephologists.

A few of the major tools that are used by a psephologist are historical precinct voting data, campaign finance information, and other related data. Public opinion polls also play an important role in psephology. 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.

Degrees in psephology are not offered (instead, a psephologist might have a degree in political science). Knowledge of demographics, statistics, and politics are required of psephologists.

Notable psephologists[edit]

Main article: List of psephologists

Notable psephologists include Antony Green;[1] Malcolm Mackerras (who devised the Mackerras pendulum); Michael Barone, who has co-authored The Almanac of American Politics biennially since 1972; Nate Silver, whose website FiveThirtyEight tracks U.S. voting trends; Canada's Éric Grenier at; 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]


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

Further reading[edit]

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

External links[edit]

  • 'Psephos' Dr. Adam Carr's Elections Archive
  • International IDEA – International Organisation providing (amongst other things) statistical analysis of elections and electoral systems
  • ACE Project – Information resource for electoral design and administration. Includes comparative data on elections and electoral systems