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A stochastic differential equation approach to the analysis of the 2017 and 2019 UK general election polls

Mark Levene and Trevor Fenner

International Journal of Forecasting, 2021, vol. 37, issue 3, 1227-1234

Abstract: Human dynamics and sociophysics build on statistical models that can shed light on and add to our understanding of social phenomena. We propose a generative model based on a stochastic differential equation that enables us to model the opinion polls leading up to the 2017 and 2019 UK general elections and to make predictions relating to the actual results of the elections. After a brief analysis of the time series of the poll results, we provide empirical evidence that the gamma distribution, which is often used in financial modelling, fits the marginal distribution of this time series. We demonstrate that the proposed poll-based forecasting model may improve upon predictions based solely on polls. The method uses the Euler–Maruyama method to simulate the time series, measuring the prediction error with the mean absolute error and the root mean square error, and as such could be used as part of a toolkit for forecasting elections.

Keywords: Election polls; Forecasting elections; Time series; Stochastic differential equations; CIR process; Gamma distribution; Euler–Maruyama method (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1016/j.ijforecast.2021.02.002

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