The study of voting behaviour remains a vibrant sub-discipline of political science. The Handbook of Electoral Behaviour is an authoritative and wide ranging survey of this dynamic field, drawing together a team of the world's leading scholars to provide a state-of-the-art review that sets the agenda for future study. Taking an interdisciplinary approach and focusing on a range of countries, the handbook is composed of eight parts. The first five cover the principal theoretical paradigms, establishing the state of the art in their conceptualisation and application, and followed by chapters on their specific challenges and innovative applications in contemporary voting studies. The remaining three parts explore elements of the voting process to understand their different effects on vote outcomes. The SAGE Handbook of Electoral Behaviour is an essential benchmark publication for advanced students, researchers and practitioners in the fields of politics, sociology, psychology and research methods.
Chapter 36: Wisdom of Crowds
Wisdom of Crowds
The term ‘wisdom of crowds’ was popularised by Surowiecki (2004), whose book of the same title provides many examples of groups making better decisions and judgements than individuals. Its opening chapter describes Francis Galton's visit to a Plymouth fair. At this fair Galton (1907a; 1907b) reports that the average estimate of an ox's weight was closer to the truth than any individual estimate. Surowiecki (2004) infers from examples such as this that the ‘wisdom of crowds’ emerges under conditions of opinion diversity, independence, de-centralisation and aggregation.
Although Surowiecki (2004) does not discuss the ‘wisdom of crowds’ in election forecasting, a growing body of research has developed theory around why groups should forecast elections better ...