What is psephology? Who is a psephologist?
The Oxford Dictionaries define psephology as:
"the statistical study of elections and trends in voting."
It comes from the Greek psēphos "pebble, vote" (from the ancient Greeks' practice of using pebbles to cast votes) + -logy
A psephologist is one who studies psephology.
Australia's best known and leading psephologist is Malcolm Mackerras who has been practising the art of psephology for over 40 years.
His famous Mackerras pendulum has proven time and again that the "swings and roundabouts" of a particular election will even out across individual seats based on the overall predicted and actual swings against for or against a sitting government.
The Mackerras pendulum has proved uncannily accurate over many decades.
Each side of the pendulum reflects the current number of seats of the Government and the Opposition and the percentage swing needed to change one or more seats.
A uniform swing of a nominated percentage will generally be reflected in the number of seats which actually change hands - although the specific seats may not be those within the band which reflects the percentage change. Malcolm Mackerras perfected his art by showing that the swing in some seats will be greater than predicted and in others will be less than forecast but that overall they will even out.
His Wikipedia entry says:
Mackerras is famous for making predictions about election results. He claims a "win" ratio of two in three and adds: "at least I'm not boring. The election analyst who makes predictions is far more interesting than one who doesn't. And if I collect egg on my face, then so be it."
Ipswich Councillor Paul Tully has also built up an impressive record of predicting the outcome of Federal, State and Local Government elections.
His first foray into psephology was in the 1974 Queensland State election when he predicted that the Labor Opposition under Perc Tucker would be reduced to a cricket team of 11 in the Queensland Parliament with Joh Bjelke-Petersen's National/Liberal government would dominate the parliament for another 15 years.
At the 2012 Queensland election, Paul Tully was the only pundit who predicted the exactly result to the exact number of seats with Premier Anna Bligh leading Labor to its worst defeat in history when it won only 7 of the 89 state seats.
Paul Tully says: "You can't get them all right but most are closer to the mark than ill-informed speculation and hope."
He says all Australians are psephologists because everyone makes some sort of prediction about the likely result of every election they vote in.