About me


Bio

I am a data journalist at The Economist based in Washington, DC. I write mostly about American politics and elections, usually by engaging in a close study of political science, political polling and demographic data. I am responsible for many of the paper’s election forecasting models, including our 2020 US presidential election forecast. Here is a Reddit AMA where I discuss more of that work. I also write the paper’s weekly “Checks and Balance” newsletter on US politics.

I am writing a book for W. W. Norton on public opinion polling — its history, influence, successes, failures, and future — and why it is a crucial tool for a healthy democracy. Sign up for my newsletter to get updates as publication day approaches. My book (title TBD) is due out in 2022. You can read a short blog post about the project here.

I used to write a lot over at my old blog thecrosstab.com, but nowadays I do most of my blogging via my newsletter. You can read it and sign up at gelliottmorris.substack.com. One day I may transfer that old content here.

I also post a lot on Twitter:

Background

I am probably best known for my work on election forecasting models, which have enjoyed varied success since I began blogging about political statistics as a college student in 2015. These days, I am interested in how we can improve on the popular aggregation-based election forecasting methods by incorporating raw polling microdata and other non-poll data into our models. Such an approach can make crucial improvements in state-level estimates, decreasing the biases in our national probabilistic estimates and producing more reliable day-to-day forecasts. We can also use these methods to dive deeper into the attitudes of different demographic groups than the traditional methods, a key journalistic advantage.

I received my undergraduate degrees in government and history from The University of Texas at Austin in May 2018. As part of my coursework I also studied statistics and computer science. In 2017 I was a survey methodology intern at the Pew Research Center, and briefly produced statistical models for the election returns startup Decision Desk HQ between 2017 and 2018. I joined The Economist in February of 2018 while finishing my degree, and I’ve been here ever since.

Broadly speaking, I am motivated by an interest in better understanding the world using statistics, social science methods, data, and predictive models. I am also a firm believer in the power of public opinion polling to improve democratic outcomes.


 

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Selected work


Writing + code

Forecasting the (2020) US elections • The Economist

We spent the lockdown sorting American voters into 380,000 distinct groups • The Economist

Who is winning the race for Westminster? • The Economist

When to pay attention to 2020 forecasts • The Economist

If everyone had voted, Hillary Clinton would probably be president • The Economist

Should political parties really let anyone run for president? • The Economist

The failure of gerrymandering • The Economist

Two Ways of Thinking about Election Predictions and What They Tell Us About 2018 • The University of Virginia Center for Politics

How Much Can the Youth Vote Actually Help Democrats? • The New York Times Upshot

You can find all of my writing here

Just code

My package for doing political data analysis in the R programming language, politicaldata. • Link

My online course on R, “Analyzing Election and Polling Data in R”. • Link

Posts about conducting political data science in R. • Link

You can find more at my GitHub page


Speaking


I am available to give talks on public opinion polling, data science, and journalism to interested institutions and organizations. An incomplete selection of given talks are listed below. If you’d like to book me for a presentation, please email me at the listed address. I do not charge for class visits.

  • September 24, 2020: I am giving a talk about what election forecasts teach us about political behavior, election polls and our electoral institutions at Cornell University. Slides
  • October 18, 2019: I will be speaking at The George Washington University on data journalism, political analysis and election forecasting. Slides
  • September 30, 2019: I will be speaking at The University of Texas at Austin about my work for The Economist on what would happen in Americans elections if everyone turned out to vote. Slides
  • August 30, 2019: I am presenting at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association on best practices in forecasting elections. Slides


Contact


Want to get in touch? Fill out the form below or email me at elliott(AT)gelliottmorris.com.