Psephology

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Psephology (/sɪˈfɒləi/; from Greek ψῆφος, psephos, 'pebble') is a branch of political science, the "quantitative analysis of elections and balloting".[1] As such, psephology attempts to explain elections using the scientific method. Psephology is related to political forecasting.

Psephology uses historical precinct voting data, public opinion polls, campaign finance information and similar statistical data. The term was coined in 1948 in the United Kingdom by W. F. R. Hardie (1902–1990) after he was asked by his friend R. B. McCallum for a word to describe the study of elections; first written use in 1952.[2] Social choice theory is a different field of study that studies voting from a mathematical perspective.

'Psephology' as a term is more common in Britain and in those English-speaking communities that rely heavily on the Britain standard of the language. In the United States, the term 'political analysis' is more often used.

EtymologyEdit

The term draws from the Greek word for pebble as the ancient Greeks used pebbles to vote. (Similarly, the word ballot is derived from the medieval French word "ballotte," meaning a small ball).[3]

ApplicationsEdit

Psephology is a division of political science that deals with the examination as well as the statistical analysis of elections and polls. People who practice psephology are called psephologists.

A few of the major tools that are used by a psephologist are historical precinct voting data, campaign finance information, and other related data. Public opinion polls also play an important role in psephology. Psephology also has various applications specifically in analysing the results of election returns for current indicators, as opposed to predictive purposes. For instance, the Gallagher Index measures the amount of proportional representation in an election.

Degrees in psephology are not offered (instead, a psephologist might have a degree in political science and/or statistics). Knowledge of demographics, statistical analysis and politics (especially electoral systems and voting behaviour) are prerequisites for becoming a psephologist.

Notable psephologistsEdit

Notable psephologists include:

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Lansford, Tom (2011). Kurian, George Thomas (ed.). The Encyclopedia of Political Science. 1–5. CQ Press. p. 1377. ISBN 978-1-933116-44-0.
  2. ^ "Chapter 15: British Psephology 1945–2001: Reflections on the Nuffield Election Histories", David Butler, Still More Adventures With Britannia: Personalities, Politics and Culture in Britain. William Roger Louis (Ed.), Harry Ranson Humanities Research Centre, University of Texas, 2003
  3. ^ Stephan, Annelisa (November 6, 2012). "Voting with the Ancient Greeks". The Iris.
  4. ^ Green, Antony. "Election Blog". ABC.
  5. ^ Gans, Curtis (2010). Voter Turnout in the United States, 1788–2009. CQ Press. ISBN 978-1604265958.

Further readingEdit

  • William Safire. New Political Dictionary, Random House, New York 1993.

External linksEdit

  • 'Psephos' Dr. Adam Carr's Elections Archive
  • International IDEA – International Organisation providing (amongst other things) statistical analysis of elections and electoral systems
  • ACE Project – Information resource for electoral design and administration. Includes comparative data on elections and electoral systems