Classifying undecided voters in pre-election surveys

Date of publication: June 15, 1982


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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