Electoral Predictions in Africa: Predicting Winners in Relatively Stable Two-Party Systems, using Early and Incomplete Results

There is a protracted and tense period between polling and the actual announcement of results in African elections. This intermission is, in the best cases, marked by hopeful candidates urging tense supporters to stay calm. In the worst cases, such periods are used by politicians to hurl accusations of fraud back and forth to work up partisanship and devalue electoral institutions. This paper demonstrates how OLS regression, using past results to fill in partial results can not only reduce uncertainty in the short term, but may also point out whether or not withheld results seem plausible. Starting as a simple social media experiment is presented here as an elegant formula that accurately predicts outcomes across Ghana’s Fourth Republic and in Nigeria’s 2015 presidential election. This accuracy was achieved with as little as 10% of the results in, and extremely biased samples.