Predicting the 2011 Canadian Election

At the start of the 2011 Canadian federal election, CBC (Canadian public broadcaster) introduced an ingenious tool on their election coverage website – Vote Compass.

Vote Compass asks you to answer about 30 questions to determine your level of support for one of the five major Canadian parties. Users receive some very interesting value for their participation – if you would believe CBC, Vote Compass will basically chew up all your political views, match them with each parties platform and spit out a result of who you are most aligned with. Users can even micro weight certain ‘hot button’ issues, such as defence spending or moral issues.

What I find interesting about Vote Compass is that almost 600,000 people have used it within the first four days of the election campaign. Users also enter their riding or postal code when answering questions, allowing the collected data to be geolocated. The Vote Compass database must have a massive amount of information that could be used to predict swing ridings. Imagine if a political party got a hold of this data – they could effectively micro-target issues within each riding where they have a shot at breaking through. And all this data was gathered voluntarily by providing ‘value’ to the user – in exchange for even greater value for the media. True geospatial intelligence!

It will be interesting to see if Vote Compass results are pulled out on election night and if they can be used to predict some upsets – welcome to the new world of crowdsourced election platforms?

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