Hello! I am a data-driven journalist and author based in Washington, DC. I am currently a staff data journalist 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 available data.
I am responsible for many of the paper’s election forecasting models, including our 2020 US presidential election forecast and 2021 Germany polling model. 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 and frequently cover domestic politics for the paper’s United States print section. In terms of skills, I’m proficient in machine learning models, Bayesian statistics, and the various tools in the standard social science toolkit.
I used to write a lot over at my old blog thecrosstab.com, but nowadays I do most of my political science and polling blogging via my newsletter. You can read it and sign up for my emails at gelliottmorris.substack.com.
I also post a lot on Twitter: Follow @gelliottmorris
Strength In Numbers: How Polls Work and Why We Need Them (W.W. Norton, summer 2022)
People flock to public opinion polls during election seasons, when they are staples of newspaper coverage and used to create continuously updating forecasts of who will get elected. But people poorly understood how polls are conducted, and the promises they present. Polls are both an art and a science — a science which has evolved over time and continues to improve. But they will never be perfectly precise. If the people can re-learn what they thought they knew about the polls, they can start using them in accordance with their original purpose: to help amplify the will of the people in our government. Readers will take a history of “public opnion” in political thought, learn how the first polls were made, get a first-hand tour of both their most high-profile misfires and the lesser-known ones (including massive data fabrication for a US government agency), and learn how polls can be fixed to secure their future in our democracy.
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:
I am available to give talks on public opinion polling, data science, data journalism, and related subjects to interested institutions and organizations. I have given talks and guest lectures at MIT, Harvard, Tufts, George Washington University, the University of Texas at Austin, the American Association for Public Opinion Research and several non-academic international firms. If you’d like to book me for a presentation, please email me at the listed address.
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
Want to get in touch? Fill out the form below or email me at elliott(AT)gelliottmorris(DOT)com.