This First-Time Pollster Was Only One to Call Argentine Election

Nearly everyone in Argentina was shocked by the opposition’s strong performance in Sunday’s presidential election, forcing a November run-off. None of the polls predicted it except newcomer Elypsis.

The economic research and consulting firm founded and led by former Barclays Plc strategist Eduardo Levy Yeyati, waded into political polling for the first time this year. It told clients on Oct. 22 that undecided voters were flocking to Mauricio Macri, increasing the odds of a second round. Elypsis polls showed the ruling party’s Daniel Scioli with about 38 percent support compared with about 36 percent for Macri. Almost no other poll showed Macri above 30 percent and the average showed Scioli on the cusp of a first round victory near 40 percent.

Official results showed Scioli got 37 percent to Macri’s 34, prompting an outpouring of Twitter messages attacking traditional pollsters and partisan television networks all of which forecast a big win for the ruling party. Argentina is not alone in this. In a number of recent national elections, polls proved off-base, raising fundamental questions about how the practice needs to change.

“We focus on trends and, to that end, we run a continuous poll, which allows us to detect changes like the one that appeared in the few days prior to the election,” Yeyati said by e-mail. “We also run large samples and carefully correct for inconsistencies and well known biases between past and future choices. But most of all, we are aware that a mechanistic approach is bound to fail, given the limited sample.”

The average of four polls published earlier this month including Raul Aragon & Asociados and Management & Fit showed Scioli expected to fall just short of the 40 percent threshold needed to avoid a run-off, with 39.5 percent, 10.5 percentage points over Macri.

Weighted Average

A weighted average of polling data compiled by political scientist Andy Tow called La Borra forecast a first round victory in an Oct. 20 report. A similar crunching of data by La Politica Online news site had Scioli just short of the threshold with an 11 point advantage over Macri.

With Scioli and Macri now headed to the country’s first-ever run-off on Nov. 22 the question for Elypsis is: Who has the advantage? Yeyati, who is a visiting professor of public policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School, says “Give us at least this week for a first view.”

Fuente: Bloomberg