Predicting Elections

March 27, 2013 - 2:15pm - 3:45pm
1501 International Affairs Building
420 West 118th Street
New York, NY 10027
United States
See video


A Panel Discussion with:

Nate Silver
Blogger, The New York Times and author of The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail-But Some Don't
Phil Tetlock
Leonore Annenberg University Professor of Management and Psychology, University of Pennsylvania
Justin Wolfers
Professor of Public Policy and Economics, University of Michigan
Moderated by
Navin Kartik
Professor of Economics, Columbia University


Few events are as central to democratic countries and their economies as an election. This panel discussed different approaches that are used today to predict the outcome of an election - comparing the value of information from experts, polls, surveys, time series, betting markets and others, as well as their shortfalls - and reflected on our ability today to forecast political events.


Nate Silver is the author of The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail - but Some Don’t (Penguin, 2012) and the creator of FiveThirtyEight: Nate Silver’s Political Calculus, now published by the New York Times. He is the developer of PECOTA, a system for ranking Major League Baseball players, and has authored a series of books on baseball statistics.


Philip Tetlock is the Leonore Annenberg University Professor in Democracy and Citizenship and Professor of Management and Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. Until recently he was the Mitchell Professor of Business, Psychology, and Political Science at the University of California Berkeley. He is the author of Expert Political Judgment: How Good Is It? How Can We Know? (Princeton Press, 2005) and is currently a Principal Investigator (with Barb Mellers) of the winning research team in the IARPA (Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Agency) geopolitical forecasting tournament.


Justin Wolfers is a Professor of Public Policy at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and a Professor of Economics in the College of Literature, Science and the Arts at the University of Michigan. His research interests include labor economics, macroeconomics, political economy, economics of the family, social policy, law and economics, public economics, and behavioral economics. He is a Research Associate with the National Bureau for Economic Research, a Research Affiliate with the Centre for Economic Policy Research in London, and an International Research Fellow at the Kiel Institute for the World Economy in Germany. He is a contributor to the New York Times (where he writes for the Freakonomics blog) and the Wall Street Journal and an editor of the Brookings Papers on Economic Activity.


Navin Kartik is Professor of Economics at Columbia University.  He received his B.A. (Economics and Mathematics) from Brandeis University in 1999 and his Ph.D. (Economics) from Stanford University in 2004.  Prior to joining Columbia in 2008, he was a faculty member at UC San Diego.  He has been a visitor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton and at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.  In 2010, he was awarded a Sloan Research Fellowship by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation "to stimulate fundamental research by early-career scientists and scholars of outstanding promise".  He currently serves on the editorial boards of multiple journals including the American Economic Review and the Journal of Economic Literature.  His main areas of research are in microeconomic theory and political economy.  His work has been published in journals such as the American Economic Review, Econometrica, the Journal of Political Economy, and the Review of Economic Studies.