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Election Forecasting
UBC-ESM Election Forecaster
developed by Prof. Werner Antweiler
The UBC-ESM Election Forecaster is an analytical tool developed for researchers of Canadian elections as well as traders on the UBC Election Stock Market (UBC-ESM). The UBC-ESM Election Forecaster's predictive ability is based on a "voter migration matrix". A user of this software can guess the probability with which a voter of a particular party will vote for the same or another party in the forthcoming election. Once all probabilities have been guessed and entered into an on-line form, the voter migration matrix is applied uniformly in each electoral district. This leads to predictions of the votes for each party, including a prediction of the winner in each riding. The sotware also identifies "safe" and "marginal" seats for each party. The UBC-ESM Election Forecaster is available for the following elections (past and forthcoming):

Because the federal and provincial election systems are based on "first-past-the-post", prediction of the election result in terms of the seats distribution in Parliament or Legislative Assembly must be based on a prediction of the election result in each constituency. The use of a voter migration matrix reflects the notion that voters change their opinion about candidates and parties in a similar way across the entire province. That is, a party that loses in one city tends to lose similarly in another city. In the simplest form, this "swing" can be applied across all constituencies.
There are several caveats with applying a simple voter migration matrix to a previous election result. First, this method does not reflect the change in population. Some children have reached voting age, some (mostly older) people have died, and other people have moved to Canada or away from Canada. Second, it does not reflect the possibility that voters in the previous election opt to abstain in the forthcoming election, or abstainers in the previous election choose to vote in the forthcoming election. Third, the voter migration matrix is applied identically across all constituencies, thus ignoring important local factors. However, to account for the significant differences between provinces in the federal election, the forecasting program can be applied to individual provinces to obtain more accurate predictions. Fourth, when the boundaries of electoral districts have changed between the last and the fortcoming election, or when the number of constituencies has been altered, the voter migration matrix cannot be applied. (For example, this was the case in Ontario's 1999 election. In the federal election in 1997, a few constituency boundaries were changed as well.)

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