Election Forecast Accountability Roundup

So how did all those pre-election forecasts pan out? We walk you through the good, the bad, the ugly, the cringeworthy, the catastrophic, the too-right-for-its-own-good, and the winner: Professor Francisco Monaldi.

With 6D results in hand, the time is now to look through pre-election forecasts and say a thing or two about how each of us did. The Distortioland/CaracasChron model had a pretty darn good night on 6D, but intellectual honesty demands that we start with the…

The Worst. Forecast. EVER.

This one goes to…yours truly, for my cringeworthy February 16th post, “An Election Year Without an Election.” Yeah, ok, make fun. I went out on a limb, the damn thing broke. What can I say?

In my own (weak, weak) defense, I’ll say that the central idea behind the post – that if they did hold an election they’d lose it by such a catastrophic margin that their hold on power would be fatally compromised – is one that 6D bore out pretty well. I still think they blundered: they’d have had a better shot at keeping power if they’d found an excuse to scuttle the vote. (And yes I say that with my tail firmly tucked between my legs.)

The Lifetime Achievement Award for Services to Uselessly Broad (but then also flat wrong) Forecasts

This one goes to a couple of people, actually. People whose range of “scenarios” was so wide, there was essentially no way they could be proven wrong after the election – and yet still screwed it up. Into this pot goes Hercón, whose strategically brilliant insight that the opposition would get somewhere between 90 and 110 votes was about as useful as an ashtray on a motorcycle and Hinterlaces, whose 84-103 range for the opposition was an even worse mix of uselessly broad and flat wrong.

Special Mention for Not Even Trying

Once more, Luis Vicente Leon and Eugenio Martinez (a.k.a. @Puzkas) deserves a shout-out for his special brand of meta-hedging. Despite being recognized as one of the top elections experts in the country and sitting atop a mass of carefully curated data, he just flat out refused to hazard a guess in public.

Well, that’s one way to make sure you’re not wrong, I guess…

The “You didn’t even bill them for that, did you?” Diploma

In an election where even the government’s paid propaganda shills were going out of their way to avoid going on record predicting an outright PSUV win, it took a special form of shortsightedness to suggest such a thing without even the benefit of a paycheck. Sadly, that’s where Iñaki Sagarzazu found himself a mere few weeks before the vote, forecasting a bare-bones MUD simple majority but hedging aggressively on the downside. Iñaki is a serious researcher, and an independent one at that. But a serious re-think is in order.

And David Smilde could well be said to deserve one of these Diplomas, too – but he didn’t put an actual number to his Chicken-Little scenerio-writing, so he just about gets away with it.

The “How could something so wrong feel so right?” Medal

This one, con todo el pesar, goes to Distortioland/Caracas Chronicles. It pains me to write this, because the urge to do a victory lap is so strong here – too strong for some to resist, in fact.

Our forecast – 111 deputies – was at once freakishly on the mark and entirely useless. It got wrong the one thing that matters: whether the MUD would get a 2/3rd majority.

Granted, it got it wrong by 82 freakin’ votes in Aragua’s 3rd circuit. But I do feel Reverse-Price-is-Right rules have to apply here. The winner is whomever comes closest without going under. We were one under. It sucks. We lose.

You could say Distortioland is being unfairly penalized for having the balls to put out a point estimate rather than hedging with a range. That’s right, as far as it goes. But the case for that would be a lot stronger if @Econ_Vzla hadn’t wobbled right at the end when those two bad Datanalisis/Latinbarómetro polls came out and he suddenly went hyper-rangy...and not in a good way.

“Rightest, Longest” Ribbon

It’s one thing to figure out that the opposition would win a 2/3rds majority of Assembly seats. It’s quite another to have figured that out last April and never looked back.

Francisco Rodríguez was forecasting a 2/3rds MUD supermajority on behalf of Bank of America eight months ago. Noting, rightly, that the majoritarian bias in our “proportional-but-not-proportional” system would load on seats to whomever has a strong majority, FRod was projecting 119-120 oppo seats…in April.


Later, as our poll lead widened, se volvió loco and he started to talk about the opposition getting up to 148 seats. I always figured that the Distortioland/CaracasChron model captured something about the government’s built in mobilization advantage that an overly literal reliance on generic ballot questions couldn’t, so I was not surprised at all that the real lead was very substantial, but not entirely lopsided.

FRod has a unique claim on the forecasting Gold Medal for being the only forecaster who never once doubted that the opposition would reach 2/3rds, a far-out-of-the-consensus, widely-derided forecast  on a question that, strategically, was the only one that really mattered.

I agonized over this call, but the fact remains that BoA assigned at least 11 and as many as 36  too many seats to the MUD. That’s just too many.

Which is why:

…the Winner Is

Francisco Monaldi, for this tweet from December 2nd which, though still hedged, seems to be the only pre-6D forecast whose forecast range encompassed the right number.

Dr. Monaldi, you’ve won yourself a beer.