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A psephologist is a professional who engages in the study of elections and voting behavior. These professionals may study elections in various ways. A psephologist may engage in analyzing existing election results, or attempt to predict the upcoming results of an electoral process. These skilled individuals help communities to make sense of all of the complex data involved in a national or regional election.
In general, a psephologist is a technical and formal term for a category of media workers who provide information on elections in any given country. Psephologists may analyze samples of an electorate and prepare materials to show the public how the sample represents common opinion in an election. These individuals may be freelancers or employees of either a media company or a political campaign, though they may be working in slightly different roles as private campaign workers.
Working as a psephologist can involve many separate aspects of the electoral process. These professionals can examine, for instance, various electoral jurisdictions to analyze a collective result, or identify problems with a margin of error in polling, such as access to a ballot or issues with transportation. These individuals may also be engaged in actively creating polls or questionnaires for an electorate.
Along with doing critical election research, the psephologist may be involved in making raw electoral data into a polished end product. This includes working on aspects of the large visual maps that are often used to show modern election results. This is just one of the formats that psephologists may work with to present data to the public or to more narrow audiences in a clear way. Others include detailed visuals for newspapers or magazines, or other special interfaces for digital media.
In a role as analyst of electoral data, the psephologist should have a good grasp of what constitutes voting influence in a given nation or region. For example, psephologists will often study issues of kinship and tribal loyalties in parts of the world where these factors influence voting behavior, for example. In some of the more established democracies, where elections have been the norm for a longer time frame, psephologists may delve into the effect of technology on voting behavior, or analyze the ways that the media frames an election. Considering “swing” areas of an electorate is another common task for the psephologist.