News and Commentary

Two Swiss Data Models Predict A Trump Win
An Israeli supporter of US President Donald Trump carries a sign during a rally in the northern Israeli city of Karmiel near Haifa on November 3, 2020, to express their support for him during the US presidential election.
JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images

The mainstream polls say Biden has the election in the bag, but a few outlier polls all say they’re malarkey. Who’s telling the truth? The answer to that comes down to data-collecting methods combined with modern social dynamics that were not present even as far back as 10 years ago.

According to two Swiss-led data models, the current polls have failed to take into account several factors when determining election outcomes: internet searches, social media presence, a candidates’ charisma, and the fact that people just simply do not wish to disclose their voting preferences during such divided time in this nation’s history.

The first team, led by Christoph Glauser, founder of the Institute for Applied Argumentation Research, IFAAR, consulted with “scientists, economists, IT and data specialists and psychologists to develop a method of candidate evaluation based on internet searches and social media reach.” Due to unreliable polling, the team developed what they called Application Programming Interfaces (API’s) to analyze what people actually search for on Google, Twitter and Facebook.

“The [search volume for a candidate] gives you an idea of how strong the campaign is,” Glauser said of his research, as reported by Swiss Info. “We are kind of living in an attention economy. If you have the attention, and you also get the active feedback of the users, you are likely to be more present in the minds of the voters.”

Though the searches do not reveal whether the information being mined was negative or positive in favor of the candidate, Glauser determined that high search volumes equaled higher favorability.

“The team measured average monthly search volume across all US channels and found that Trump hovered around 70 million searches for most of the campaign. He reached more than 100 million with his tweet revealing that he’d tested positive for the coronavirus that causes Covid-19,” Swiss Info said of the data. “Biden’s peak volume reached just 26.6 million in September. Five days from the election, Glauser says both campaigns have increased their search volume, but not in ways that would change his team’s prediction of a Trump victory.”

On the Twitter front, the disparity between Trump’s engagement and Biden’s engagement was almost a no-contest, with Trump’s team sending out as many as 43 tweets per day versus Biden’s 11. In the follower count, Trump boasts 87 million Twitter followers; Biden, just 11 million.

The second research team, led by John Antonakis, professor of organizational behavior at the University of Lausanne, and Philippe Jacquart, professor at Emlyon business school in France, accurately predicted the 2016 election in favor of Trump and are predicting the same in 2020.

“I did feel, seriously, like an idiot being about the sole person on the planet, perhaps one or two other research teams, that also said they think Trump would win [in 2016],” Antonakis said of the research, as reported by Swiss Info. “I really thought that we had gotten something fundamentally wrong.”

An important overlooked factor, according to Antonakis, is charisma, which “signals values and strengths to potential followers.” Typically, incumbent presidents have to worry about one factor: the state of the economy; however, given the difficult circumstances brought about by the pandemic, Antonakis said that Trump’s high position on the charismameter will carry him over the edge.

“The charismometer correctly called the 2012 and 2016 elections before the vote,” said the report. “And when the researchers applied the method to past elections, the model correctly predicted 20 out of 24 elections. Antonakis says the only thing that would affect his prediction of a Trump victory would be particularly bad US economic numbers released before the election. As of October 29, GDP figures matched expectations.”

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