Classifying undecided voters in pre-election surveys

Date of publication: June 15, 1982

Abstract:

Due to the potential impact and significance of the undecideds and the widespread use of telephone surveys, it became imperative that an improved technique be developed which would result in a reliable forecast of the likely voting patterns of respondents who claimed to be undecided. Such a technique, which can be used with any method of data collection, was developed by the authors. This paper will discuss:-1. the new technique -2. a specific application of the technique in the 1980 US presidential election and -3. the results of a validation study in which post-election follow-up interviews were conducted with previously undecided voters. In this validation, a comparison of the technique's predictions and reported voting behavior revealed that the model correctly classified approximately 80% of the undecided respondents in the three-way race for President. In addition, we will also discuss potential uses and applications of the procedure within the European political scene.

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