Predicting the results of provincial elections has never been easier, thanks to a new application available online and for smartphones.
The election predictor, created by public relations company Hill and Knowlton Canada, allows individuals to make predictions by either splitting or swinging votes between different parties.
In a split, users simply guess what percentage of the vote each party will get and the predictor returns a seat count. In a swing, users can see how many more seats a party could pick up if voters abandon a rival party.
The predictor is set up with recent polling data from Praxis Analytics to show up-to-date predictions on ridings and the overall outcome. It also allows friends to share their predictions via Facebook and Twitter. Hill and Knowlton also developed mobile apps for the iPhone and the Blackberry. These were introduced last February.
According to Elizabeth Roscoe, Hill and Knowlton’s national practice leader for public affairs, the predictor itself is “pretty bang-on.” Although unsure of how many users have downloaded the smartphone app, Roscoe said the website has received “over a thousand individual hits” in the past week. These hits are representative of people testing their predictions, which are compared to poll-based data.
“It’s not intended to be a statistically quantified tool — it’s reliant on the results from the previous election,” said Roscoe of the application. “It’s meant to be a forecast of what the election outcome could look like.”
The website has been used in the past, both provincially and federally, to give amateur politicos the chance to simulate the effects of hot-button issues on the outcome of the election. The information used to rate support for individual parties is based on “publicly available, current polling information.”
The decision to implement the app in Saskatchewan stemmed from a demand from the public as well as Hill and Knowlton opening an office in Saskatchewan.
“We recently set up shop in Regina for consulting services, so we thought, ‘Why don’t we offer the election predictor for Saskatchewan?’ ”
Hill and Knowlton does not gain anything from the predictor aside from a boost to their public profile — although a thousand hits a week hardly qualifies as “viral” status.
According to Roscoe, the app is meant to illustrate Hill and Knowlton’s interest in politics and engagement in the governing process. They “provide it as a non-scientific tool — an app meant for people with iPhones or Blackberries.”
The predictor is available at predictor.hillandknowlton.ca.
Graphic: Brianna Whitmore/The Sheaf