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What Would Google Decide? 40

Gary Stock, the guy who invented the Googlewhack, tried a bit of Google election predicting last night. Using a methodology that is entirely indefensible, and which he does not try to defend, Stock asked Google to call the results on Michigan's five referendum questions. The result: Google's answers to two questions were spot-on, two questions were answered correctly but underrepresented the 'yes' vote, and one question was reversed. An 80% accuracy rate has got to beat any number of the pollsters and pundits who have been shouting at us since last August, no?
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What Would Google Decide?

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  • by east coast ( 590680 ) on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @04:37PM (#16774523)
    The electronic voting machine I used just yesterday had a "I feel lucky" button on it... Google's influence is far and wide.
  • by parvenu74 ( 310712 ) on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @04:38PM (#16774537)
    If Google can find password files and the source code to Diebold's voting machines [], they can surely find the pre-determined results to yesterday's vote.

    What -- you thought the election was fair and square and only determined when the ballots were counted last night?
    • And if you don't think the elections in this country are rigged, then don't take my word for it... watch the documentary evidence of it on Google Video [].
    • Re:No surprise... (Score:4, Informative)

      by MindStalker ( 22827 ) <> on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @04:58PM (#16774939) Journal
      They didn't "find" anything, this was determined by hit rate. If 8000 people make webpages supporting an amendment and 4000 people make pages against it, that amendment will likely pass 2/1
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by iabervon ( 1971 )
      Shouldn't elections be determined when the ballots are cast, not when they're counted? Or maybe when voters decide how they're going to vote?
      • Not really (Score:3, Interesting)

        by parvenu74 ( 310712 )
        You're assuming everyone votes on the day of the election. Some states offer "early voting" up to a couple weeks before the voting date, and all of them offer absentee ballots.

        Personally, I think voting shouldn't be a single day but should last for eleven days; for example: from the first Friday in November until the end of the Monday eleven days hence, with "the count so far" results being published at noon on days 4 (Monday), 7 (Thursday), and 10 (Sunday), with final (as much as possible, anyway) number
        • I don't think results should be published or released until all votes are in. This helps get rid of strategic voting and more accurately reflects the publics wishes.
        • Personally, I think we should pull an Australia and slap $5,000 dollar fines to people who don't vote.

          99.99% voting rate, here we come!
  • What is (google)whack, and why are we always out of it?
  • And googlewhack had a 33% acuracy. I tried my questions in the form:
        "vote yes on question 1" 2006 massachusetts

    as here in Massachusetts, that is how we refer to ballot initiatives.
  • Brilliant idea (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Marxist Hacker 42 ( 638312 ) * <> on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @04:44PM (#16774663) Homepage Journal
    People who care enough to blog, care enough to vote. The real answer to this is that he's found a way to construct a poll made up entirely of likely voters, and NO non-voters. I suspect that this 80% accuracy rate will get better as time goes on (and the older Luddites die). I also suspect his accuracy rate would have been somewhat less say, had he used this technique in the 2004 Presidential election (because federal country-wide elections would beat the signal to noise ratio).
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by kfg ( 145172 )
      . . .the older Luddites die. . .

      Damn kid Luddites these days. Get off my lawnmower!

      • Actually, I was just pointing out that people like my Father-in-law, who is afraid to get Comcast Internet service lest his computer make him sick (he's heard too much about these damned computer viruses, and doesn't understand the difference between cyberspace and real space) will *also* never be polled by this method. But 20 years from now they'll all be dead.
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by kfg ( 145172 )
          I fully understood what you were talking about.

          And boy, are you going to be in for a rude awakening when the new longevity therapies come out. I got lucky, my Father-in-law is already dead. He was computer technology savvy, but caught a bad case of Luddite technology.

          Fireplace poker upside the head. Sometimes the old ways are very effective.

  • Not Surprising (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF ( 813746 ) on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @05:03PM (#16775051)

    This surprises me not at all. Usually the vote follows wherever the majority of marketing money is spent. Marketing works, that's why people spend so much money on it. Google results probably mirror the amount of marketing pretty well, although if one group ignored online marketing or concentrated on one other form, it might be off.

    I'm actually very discouraged by the Michigan elections, not because I think all the votes went the wrong way, but because 99% of the people I talked to about an issue could repeat what they heard in a television ad, but had obviously not thought the issue through at all beyond that. I was 100% right in my predictions of the election, based simply on the TV ads.

  • > An 80% accuracy rate has got to beat any number of the pollsters and pundits who have been shouting at us since last August, no?

    No. Stephen Colbert noted last night that everyone who was featured on his segment "Better Know A District" won last night. I think a humorous 100% is better than an indefensible 80%.

    • by Dionysus ( 12737 )
      I think he mentioned that one of his interview subjects lost. Still did very well, though :-)
      • All of the incumbents in the districts he featured were re-elected, but not everyone he interviewed. Sometimes, as in the case of Waxman (my rep), he interviewed the "challenger" because the incumbent couldn't be bothered to interview. ;) Basically none of the districts he chose were in any way truly competitive.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by alienmole ( 15522 )

          Sometimes, as in the case of Waxman (my rep), he interviewed the "challenger" because the incumbent couldn't be bothered to interview. ;)

          "Couldn't be bothered" is not an accurate characterization. Many politicians are afraid to go on Stephen Colbert. Nancy Pelosi has advised Democrats not to appear. Similar admonitions have gone out on the Republican side. These people don't really understand the show, or the younger-than-them generations which watch it, so all they see is people being made fun of an

  • should I vote on initiative 7? Well, WWGD?

    (shudders and skulks off into dark corner to tie socks into noose)
  • I use an 8-ball to help me vote.
  • but but but, index funds have non-random selections of stocks! I'm ready to follow your investment advice, but I can't!

    I could always throw darts at a stock-ticker but how will I know if that's random enough?
  • I favor betting markets like TradeSports, the Iowa Election Markets [], or the Foresight Exchange. But they don't cover everything and they can be just as wrong as anything else. For example, the markets were predicting a 75% or so chance in the not so distant past that the Republicans would keep a majority in the Senate. That didn't happen, of course.
  • Dick DeVos spent a LOT more than Jennifer Granholm on his ad campaign, and lost by a fairly large margin...

    Do you have numbers on this? Do they include the $150 million of state funds Granholm basically handed to Ford as a PR move?

    I also saw many more commercials against the MCRI (the amendment to ban affirmative action by the state, for you non-Michiganders) and that passed by an even stronger margin.

    Again, I'm not sure of the numbers on this one, but I saw quite a few ads in both directions with re

God helps them that themselves. -- Benjamin Franklin, "Poor Richard's Almanac"