Hello! My name is Elliott and I am a data-driven journalist and writer living in Washington, DC.
I am the author of STRENGTH IN NUMBERS: How Polls Work and Why We Need Them, which was published in 2022 by W. W. Norton. Read more and order a copy here!
I am also the Editorial Director of Data Analytics at ABC News, where I develop polling aggregation and election-forecasting models (both pre-election and for election night) and manage the research and data visualization teams for ABC’s 538.
From 2018 to 2023 I was a Senior Data Journalist and US Correspondent for The Economist, where I mostly wrote about American politics, public opinion polling, demographics, and elections. I was the lead developer of the paper’s election forecasting models, including for US presidential elections and several European countries. From 2020 to 2023 I also wrote a weekly data column for the paper’s “Checks and Balance” newsletter on US politics.
I am available to give talks on politics and economics, public opinion polling, data science, data journalism, and related subjects to interested institutions and organizations. Please see the bottom of the page for contact details. I am very responsive on email.
I have given guest lectures at MIT, Harvard, Tufts University, George Washington University, the University of Texas at Austin, the American Association for Public Opinion Research and many large non-academic domestic and international firms. These events have ranged from presentations on election forecasting, lectures on polling, tutorials on data science and general Q&A sessions with both students and organizations about the future of politics and markets.
As a general rule I do not charge a fee for class appearances to undergraduate students, especially if you want me to Zoom in and talk about my book. Slides for some of my lectures are here.
Here is a bit more about my work:
Strength In Numbers: How Polls Work and Why We Need Them (W.W. Norton, July 2022)
Polls are the ultimate democratic process; they are used by leaders, activists and special interest groups to advocate for certain policies and the attitudes of the populace. But polls can also go wrong. They are vulnerable to methodological flukes and outright fabrication, and they can be used by despots and demagogues to damage government and discourage citizens – or worse.
In Strength in Numbers, readers will learn how polls work — the political philosophy behind their emergence, the ways in which they first measured the public’s pulse, how those methods have changed over time, and how they might change in the future. Along the way, Morris illuminates how public opinion polls provide a voice for citizens and influence such crucial matters as a party’s selection of presidential candidates, he guides readers through a vibrant history of polling to provide insider context, and he demonstrates how we have underestimated their potential impact. He also candidly acknowledges where polls have fallen short and charts a path for the industry’s future where it can truly work for the people. Read more…
Untitled project #1
Most of what you know about politics is probably wrong. This is not your fault, but I would like to use political psychology and social science to help you learn some things you did not know. In unraveling these mysteries — concerning aspects of voter behavior to electoral systems to political polling – form a sort of Freakonomics for political science.
Untitled project #2
Election forecasting models help us discern the likely political future. But they really do much more than that. Models have to formulate theories about how people are voting and why. What can we learn from that? Each chapter of this book serves as a building block to creating an election model. But the real purpose is to teach people about politics.
Articles + code
How 538’s polling averages work • How Our Polling Averages Work
What Do Swing Voters Think? Meet @American__Voter • New York Times Opinion
Forecasting the (2020) US elections • The Economist
We sorted 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
I am an experienced programmer in R, Python, and Stan, a program for Bayesian statistics. I specialize in traditional statistical data analysis, survey research, several plotting libraries and automatic report generating as well as predictive analytics, machine learning models, production data science pipelines and forecasting.
Want to get in touch? Fill out the form below or email me at elliott(AT)gelliottmorris(DOT)com.