Can Twitter Predict Elections? Not So Fast

By Mark Blumenthal, Huffington Post - August 20, 2013

HuffPollster has devoted considerable attention this week to a provocative op-ed by Fabio Rojas, an associate professor of sociology at Indiana University, claiming that "Twitter discussions are an unusually good predictor of U.S. House elections." So good, Rojas claimed, that he and his colleagues were able to predict "404 out of 406 competitive races." At least that's what the original version of the op-ed said, which would have been an amazingly impressive feat, given that most of the conventional forecasting models missed the predicted number of Democratic seats by 38 or or more seats. Thus, Rojas concluded, "this new world" of social media "will undermine the polling industry...Nearly every serious political campaign in the United States spends thousands, even millions, of dollars hiring campaign consultants who conduct these polls and interpret the results." Digital democracy will put these campaign professionals out of work.

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