Could you be POTUS?


Business forecasting is a dismal field of endeavor, fit for dismal people like myself. In an attempt to make this field interesting to people who aren't so dismal by nature, our friends at PollyVote Election Forecasting ask the question:

Could you be President of the United States?

The PollyVote project is run by Scott Armstrong, Alfred Cuzan, Andreas Graefe, and Randall Jones, who use it to demonstrate advances in forecasting methodology. PollyVote illustrates the principle of combining forecasts from different methods (e.g. averaging multiple polls) to achieve a more accurate result. Its current focus is on predicting the 2012 US presidential election between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

I'm not much interested in the topic of political predicting. However, I do care about my own chance of winning the presidential election, which is what you, too, can find out with their PollyBio test.

Let me warn you in advance that the test is kind of tricky. For example, question #3:

Are you the first born child in your family?

Really? How am I supposed to know whether anyone was born before me -- I wasn't around then! Plus, I was just a baby at the time. Or questions #9 and #10:

Are you a celebrity?

Are you athletic?

Of course, being a celebrity is a relative term. There are globally recognized celebrities, like Mother Teresa or Posh Spice. And there are those who achieved their 15 minutes of fame and then drifted back into irrelevance, like Tanning Mom or Joe the Plumber. What if you, like me, are somewhere in between?

As for being athletic, there is the same issue of relativity and interpretation. By athletic do they mean can I slam-dunk a basketball and run a 4-minute mile? Well by those strict conditions then no, I'm not athletic. But if by athletic do they mean can I walk from my house to the curb to get the mail without breaking into a sweat and panting? Then again, no.

Question #26 asks:

Are you more attractive than Barack Obama?

I'm not really sure of the relevance of this question. Being better looking than Barack Obama didn't do anything for John Edwards other than get him more professional looking home-movies with his campaign cinematographer.

It turns out my predicted percentage of the 2012 popular vote is somewhere around 37%, which I thought was pretty good. However, if I consider myself an athletic celebrity who is more attractive than Barack Obama, I would capture 41% of the vote, so I'll consider myself all those things.



About Author

Mike Gilliland

Product Marketing Manager

Michael Gilliland is a longtime business forecasting practitioner and formerly a Product Marketing Manager for SAS Forecasting. He is on the Board of Directors of the International Institute of Forecasters, and is Associate Editor of their practitioner journal Foresight: The International Journal of Applied Forecasting. Mike is author of The Business Forecasting Deal (Wiley, 2010) and former editor of the free e-book Forecasting with SAS: Special Collection (SAS Press, 2020). He is principal editor of Business Forecasting: Practical Problems and Solutions (Wiley, 2015) and Business Forecasting: The Emerging Role of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (Wiley, 2021). In 2017 Mike received the Institute of Business Forecasting's Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2021 his paper "FVA: A Reality Check on Forecasting Practices" was inducted into the Foresight Hall of Fame. Mike initiated The Business Forecasting Deal blog in 2009 to help expose the seamy underbelly of forecasting practice, and to provide practical solutions to its most vexing problems.

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