Insider confidence metric outperformed actual predictions

by | Aug 31, 2016

Assuming Darryl Rouson holds on to his razor thin lead, participants in The Capitolist’s first ever primary prognostication contest had a pretty good night overall. But not in the traditional sense of correctly guessing the winners. No, on that front, Florida’s political junkies only correctly predicted the results in 75% of the 12 selected races. And yet, the additional data each participant provided on the survey – their own confidence level for each prediction – proved to be a significantly more accurate prognostication metric. By contrast, the average confidence score for each candidate correctly predicted the outcome in 91.6% of the 12 selected races.

The only error of the night – if one could call it that – came out of the train wreck in HD 4, where in a five-way contest, The Capitolist’s insiders predicted Jonathan Tallman as the winner, even though the confidence score didn’t agree. It was the first clue that bad things were in store for Tallman. Instead The Capitolist’s confidence score indicated Wayne Harris as the likely top finisher, but in the end, it was Mel Ponder‘s night, even though his confidence score was only third highest of the five candidates.

Of note, the race in HD 4 was one of only two where the actual winner’s confidence score didn’t break the 3.0 threshold on a scale of one to five (with a score of five indicating maximum confidence). The only other victorious candidate who scored under 3.0 in average confidence was Emily Slosberg. Insiders had her at 2.76 vs. 2.59 for her opponent.

Aside from HD4, there were only two other races in which a candidate’s confidence score clashed with the predicted outcome, and in both cases, the confidence score proved correct. In Senate District 19, Darryl Rouson earned the highest insider confidence of all candidates there, even though insiders predicted a Narain victory:

ChartGo (7)ChartGo (8)

And in House District 19, The Capitolist’s insiders voted with their heart on Katherine Van Zant, with 48% predicting she would win, versus just 33% calling the race for Bobby Payne. Average confidence score again overruled the insider’s actual votes, Payne with a score of 3.65, and Van Zant clocking a 2.78 average. In the end, Payne won the three-way race by 10 points.

ChartGo (22)ChartGo (23)

So, maybe we’re onto something when it comes to predicting the outcomes ahead of time. Then again, maybe our sample size is far too small, both in terms of “insider” participants and in terms of election cycles overall. What I do know is that this exercise provides valuable entertainment and fodder for discussion on election day, and we’ll definitely do it again in November.

Here are the contest winners (again, assuming Rouson hold’s his lead):

Gold Medalist: David Biddle, 35 points

Silver Medalist: Rich Heffley, 29 points

Bronze Medalist (tie): Trey Stapleton, Marc Dunbar, Peter Schorsch and one other with 26 points each

Congrats to all!






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