Election 2008—some fun

I’ve been following the U.S. Presidential election on the excellent site www.fivethirtyeight.com which features sophisticated statistical aggregation of all the published polls done in the U.S and also at the prediction market Intrade.com. But as it comes down to the election I know I’ll need a frequently updated dashboard for watching the results. So I came up with this. (N.B. Requires Firefox 3 and at least as much screen realestate as a 15″ Powerbook.)

Inspired by a page put together by Randall Munroe of xkcd fame, my dashboard periodically fetches the market price of Intrade’s state-by-state election markets, which represent the probability, as assessed by the Intrade traders, that a given candidate will win a given state. From those probabilities I compute the overall probability of various scenarios and color the map appropriate shades of blue and red. I also provide some dials and knobs (sliders) actually, to allow you to play some real-time “what if” games with the results.

There are some flaws some flaws with my statistical methodology (most notably the almost certainly erroneous assumption that the state probabilities are all independent) but it should nonetheless be a good way of tracking the results as the come in: Assuming the Intrade traders, who’ve got real money on the line, stay on the job the Intrade values will head toward certainty as exit polls and actual results become available and my dashboard will reflect that.

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