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

Psephology uses historical precinct voting data, public opinion polls, campaign finance information and similar statistical data. The term was first coined in 1948 by W. F. R. Hardie (1902–1990) in the United Kingdom. This occurred after R. B. McCallum, a friend of Hardie's, requested a word to describe the study of elections. Its first documented usage in writing appeared 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 British standard of the language.

Etymology

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]

Applications

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

Main article: List of psephologists

Notable psephologists include:

See also

References

  1. ^ Lansford, Tom (2011). Kurian, George Thomas (ed.). The Encyclopedia of Political Science. Vol. 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.