Applied Stats Workshop (Gov 3009)


Wednesday, April 19, 2017, 12:00pm to 1:30pm


CGIS Knafel K354

The Applied Statistics Workshop (Gov 3009) meets all academic year, Wednesdays, 12pm-1:30pm, in CGIS K354. This workshop is a forum for advanced graduate students, faculty, and visiting scholars to present and discuss methodological or empirical work in progress in an interdisciplinary setting. The workshop features a tour of Harvard's statistical innovations and applications with weekly stops in different fields and disciplines and includes occasional presentations by invited speakers.  Free lunch is provided.

Douglas Rivers (Stanford) presents:


What the Hell Happened?
The Perils of Polling in the 2016 U.S. Election

Most polls at the end of the 2016 U.S. Presidential election campaign showed Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump and she did indeed win the popular vote by a margin of over two percent. However, several anomalies are apparent in 2016 polling:

1) Some polling exhibited "phantom swings" in support for Clinton and Trump.
2) There is clear evidence of bias in midwestern state polls.
3) Underestimates of mean squared polling error caused poll aggregators to over-estimate Clinton's chances of winning.
4) Republican turnout in 2016 was underestimated by both likely voter screens and historical turnout models.

With the benefit of hindsight, most of these problems could have been avoided. Improved methods are discussed, along with speculations about the limits of campaign analytics.