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NSW Branch: 2021 Annual Lecture by Prof. Simon Jackman - Statistics in the public eye: the case of predicting election outcome

  • 9 Dec 2021
  • 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM (AEDT)
  • the Aerial Function Centre, UTS

Following the J. B. Douglas Awards, there will be the Annual Lecture by Prof. Simon Jackman from the United States Studies Centre, the University of Sydney about predictive models of election outcomes.

Please note that for security reasons, if you choose to attend virtually via zoom, you will need to register here in advance. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. Both the J.B. Douglas Awards and the Annual Lecture share the same Zoom link.

Statistics in the public eye: the case of predicting election outcome

Prof. Simon Jackman
the United States Studies Centre, the University of Sydney

Predictive models of election outcomes – relying chiefly on published opinion polls – have been a leading example of statistical methods finding their way into media and popular discourse. After early successes, these models have been at the heart of “polling misses” in recent years across elections in the USA, Australia and the UK.

Professor Jackman will examine these successes and failures, detailing the statistical models used to temporally aggregate and smooth poll-based estimates of voting intentions - a form of Hidden Markov Model.

Professor Jackman will also discuss (a) generalisations and extensions of the model including estimating trends and discontinuities in the evolution of public opinion over election campaigns, spatial smoothing for multi-jurisdiction elections (e.g., parliamentary elections or the US Electoral College), (b) ex-post estimation of pollster biases and their causes, and (c) detecting under-dispersion or “herding” of published poll results. Examples will include recent Australian federal elections and US presidential elections. These examples hold important lessons for statisticians whose work is destined for consumption by journalists and the lay public.

Professor Simon Jackman is Chief Executive Officer of the United States Studies Centre. He graduated with first class Honours in Government from the University of Queensland and earned his doctorate at the University of Rochester and Princeton University.

Professor Jackman’s research has appeared over the last 30 years in the leading journals of political science. He served as one of the Principal Investigators of the American National Election Studies, the world’s longest running and most authoritative survey of political behaviour and attitudes. He also served as an expert witness helping to secure verdicts against partisan gerrymandering in the United States.

Our Sponsors:

Thank you to our sponsors that make this event this possible, especially in this chaotic year! If your organisation can sponsor a small amount, we would appreciate this. All sponsor logos will be displayed in the J.B. Douglas programme.

Gold Sponsors


Business School, Business Analytics Research

Department of Mathematics and Statistics

School of Mathematics and Statistics

National Institute for Applied Statistics Research Australia

Any questions, please feel free to contact:

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