NewsPrediction

The pulse of the people

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Science  03 Feb 2017:
Vol. 355, Issue 6324, pp. 470-472
DOI: 10.1126/science.355.6324.470

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Summary

Could online data enhance polling as a forecasting tool, or even replace it? Polling, whether done by phone or door-to-door, is labor intensive and expensive. And response rates have fallen to single digits, leaving pollsters to rely on a thin and biased sample. By contrast, analyzing tweets, for instance, allows researchers to track the political opinions of millions of people directly, second by second, and the data are free. But polling and Twitter analyses both failed to predict the winner of last November's U.S. presidential election. The internet, it seems, can't yet reliably take the pulse of the people. But social scientists are convinced that it eventually will.