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 a staff data journalist and US correspondent for The Economist, where I mostly write about American politics, public opinion polling, demographics, and elections — but I’ll generally cover anything interesting so long as there is data to tell a story. I am responsible for many of the paper’s election forecasting models, including our 2020 US presidential election forecast and polling models for several European countries. Here is a Reddit AMA where I discuss more of that work. I also write for the paper’s weekly “Checks and Balance” newsletter on US politics. In terms of skills, I’m proficient in machine learning models, Bayesian statistics, and the various tools in the standard social science toolkit.
I also do a lot of blogging on political science and polling via my newsletter. My goal there is to use data to teach people about politics, society, and democracy. I send out a free weekly email each sunday and offer paid subscriptions for more in-depth and frequent posts. You can read it and sign up at gelliottmorris.substack.com.
If you would like to contact me for speaking engagements (which I love to do) please see the bottom of the page for my contact details.
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.
I publish a blog at gelliottmorris.substack.com where I write a weekly column on a newsworthy topic related to public opinion polling and election forecasting, politics and democracy, or journalism and the news. I also post extra entries on current debates in polling/forecasting and use interesting social science research to talk about current events. You can sign up to receive posts in your inbox by entering your email address below:
Articles + 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
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
I am available to give talks on public opinion polling, data science, data journalism, and related subjects to interested institutions and organizations. I currently do this about once a month.
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 several non-academic 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.
If you would like to book me for a general speaking engagement, please email me at the listed address or fill out the contact form below. I am very responsive on email. As a general rule I do not charge a fee for class appearances to undergraduate students.
Want to get in touch? Fill out the form below or email me at elliott(AT)gelliottmorris(DOT)com.