Yahoo data scientists predict election results.
Researchers at Yahoo have created a ‘sentiment analysis’ engine, to gauge results in this years US political race. Called ‘the Signal’, the engine uses Twitter messages and other search queries to decide how the public is feeling and why they would vote a certain way, as opposed to previous systems which used a binary analysis, eg “Would you vote this way or that way?”.
The whole system reminds me of the story of the UNIVAC computer, which was used to predict who would win the 1952 presidential election. The CBS television network had been planning to announce the computers prediction on election day, but when the machine announced that Dwight Eisenhower would win, they balked and changed the result - Eisenhower had been thought to have a 100-1 chance of winning. Later in the night, however, when Eisenhower won by a landslide, CBS announced they had lied and the computer was right all along. (Check out the full story of that, here)
As of last week, the Yahoo team had the odds of Obama winning at 52.9 percent. It has already correctly predicted Mitt Romney would be nominated for the South Carolina primary earlier this month, and predicts he will win that primary.