# Translation of Excerpts from Robert Heinlein's Book, Take Your Government Away - Part 24

### Analysis of the pre-election situation in the constituency

And so Mr. Chestnyaga’s campaign for the nomination of a candidate from the party reached the stage of the last election month. You have done a great job, and now you would like to know what results your work has brought. Do you need to work harder now, or is the game already lost, and you have to turn off the bench?

Most likely, you cannot afford to hire a professional analytical agency, and there is no time for your volunteers to engage in analytics: they spend all their free time on the campaign. And, although at the weekly meetings of the Voter Walker Club, in their reports each of them shares the results of their own poll of voters at their polling station, you would like to be sure of the reliability of the numbers reported by the volunteers, because their feedback often presents the situation in too bright a light.

To get a reliable picture of the opinions of voters, there is a technique that requires experience, but which you can start practicing as soon as you get into politics, so that by the time you need it in practice, you will already be quite experienced. This technique consists in trying to predict the results of voting on candidates, and questions put to the vote - first before, and then after a selective poll of voters conducted by you personally. Record all your forecasts so that you can later compare them with the election results.

From experience you will understand whether your forecasts are too optimistic, or vice versa - they are too pessimistic. Over time, your analytical skills will improve, and the accuracy of your forecasts will improve to such an extent that the time will come when you can come to the constituency and literally smell the victory or defeat in the air - many weeks before the election. And when you learn this, you can turn defeat into victory. Review your forecasts regularly - from applying for the election, until the night before the election. Record your forecasts in order to use them after the election in the “debriefing”. This lesson is more fun than solving crossword puzzles, and some people prefer it to reading detective stories and playing on sweepstakes.

### Statistical Forecasts

Even if you can afford to hire professional interviewers and mathematical mathematicians to study the pre-election situation, it is better to spend this money on campaigning. Does this mean that you have to go blindly, working like a damn when the business has long been lost, or lose due to a slight lack of votes, although a small final breakthrough would lead you to victory, but you had no idea about it? No - to work, not imagining the situation in the district - is not worth it. There is a fairly simple and cost-effective way to conduct a survey of voters in a constituency of any size, even the largest of them. And this method will give statistics that are reliable enough to make decisions on how successful your campaign is progressing, and adjust your plans accordingly.

The secret of reliable forecasts based on the study of a random sample of voters' opinions lies, firstly, in the correctness of the survey method, and secondly, in the correct attitude to the survey results - without trying to derive more information from them than they contain.

The mathematical theory of probability is complex and difficult to understand. Therefore, instead of trying to teach you how to use it, I will give you a simple rule with instructions on how to use it. And I’ll talk a bit about what mathematical methods are in it. But to use my rule, just remember the rule itself. The explanation of the principles laid down in it is for those of you who are familiar with mathematics and who want to check how this rule is deduced. After which, perhaps, she will enter into a polemic with me, both about the theory I have used, and I propose another rule that is more suitable for our purposes.

Here's the rule: Interrogate randomly selected constituency voters until you get 50 clear and unambiguous answers - no matter in your favor or not. Do not consider those who refuse to answer or find it difficult to answer. Now take the number of answers in favor of your candidate and double it. Subtract from result 8. What happened will be the percentage of votes in your favor. With a probability of four chances to one, your candidate will not receive a percentage of the vote less than that calculated by the rule - provided that the elections take place immediately. And you can be almost sure that the percentage will not be much lower than the figure you received. So rely on this assessment as reliable: in fact, it gives a cautious, even slightly underestimated, assessment. It’s better to make a mistake in a smaller direction than in a big one,

For example: you interviewed 93 randomly selected voters until you received 50 answers: 14 respondents refused to answer, 29 - found it difficult to answer. Of the 50 responses received, 28 were for Mr. Chestnyagu, 22 for Mr. Hope. We double 28 - we get 56, subtract 8 - we get 48. Thus, if elections are held in the near future, then Mr. Chestnyaga can expect to get at least 48% of the vote. We can get an upper estimate of the percentage of votes cast if we add 8 to 56, so an optimistic estimate will be 64% of the vote. But it’s better for you not to use this figure, because it’s more useful to know how many votes you need to catch up in order to guarantee a win in the election, so your vote is 48%. This is clearly not enough for your candidate: only 2%, Voter votes can separate him from election victory. For the expected total of 25,000 voters, it will be 500 votes. So you need to collect at least 500 votes, in addition to what you have already collected. But it’s better to plan with a guarantee, and set as your task to collect 3 times more - 1500 votes. To do this, you are gathering an urgent meeting of agitators, showing them the 48% you have received, and explaining that for guaranteed victory, each of them, in addition to the votes they have already collected, needs to collect 6 more new votes, visiting those voters who did not vote on the primaries, and therefore not listed on your lists. Let the agitators work until they find 6 voters whom they can bring to vote in the primaries. Let your candidate do the same,

Such a final spurt should last three weeks in a row, and it will lead you to a victory that you could miss because of such a tiny margin of votes. You will probably win by a significant margin, and perhaps the final spurt was not needed - you will not know for sure. But you don’t need it, because you won!

Suppose the polls show that a pessimistic assessment shows more than 50% of the advantage in your favor. Then you have the right to continue your campaign as usual, without a final breakthrough, but without slowing down the pace of work.

Now, suppose that the polls showed the opposite picture - 22 answers for Chestnyaga, 28 - for Hope. Then your rating gives only 36% of the vote for you. Does this mean that you have to give up and give up? No, because at the same time the percentage of votes in favor of your opponent is less than 50%, which means for you some chance to win - with hard work, although not for sure. Accept the probability of defeat, and continue to fight.

Suppose Mr. Nadezhda received 30 votes in a poll, that is, the preponderance of votes in his favor is at least 52%, and at most 68%. In such a situation, would you rather give up and quit the game?

At least not on his own initiative. I would advise you to discuss this issue with the candidate, and then convene all your employees and sponsors of the campaign fund in a closed meeting, tell them these sad news, and get their opinion on how to act in such a situation. Based on a cool-pragmatic point of view, it is best for you to minimize your losses by quitting the race, but I predict that your comrades will vote to fight until the very end, and your meeting will turn into an election rally. You can even manage to win: politics is not a dice, nor a theory of probability, the fighting spirit here can work wonders, overturning all scientific calculations. So if the meeting decides to conduct the campaign to the end, submit to their opinion and get down to work. At least you will get invaluable experience,

Now let's talk about what we mean by “randomly chosen” voters: this is a sample of voters representing the current situation in the district, as objective as possible, and easiest to get it by eliminating all factors of personal addictions. This is done in this way: suppose you need to select 100 people from 200 of your existing voter lists. Take from every second list the name of the first from the end of the voter list of your party, from the second column of the list. Or come up with your own rule, without making a decision on your part, evenly and mechanically selecting people from the available lists, without taking into account the distribution of voters across the territory.

Never select voters from just one polling station, or any part of a constituency. If you intend to conduct a telephone interview, keep in mind that some voters will not have a telephone. Do not replace a selected voter who does not have a telephone with the next voter on the list with a telephone; interview selected voters by going to their home. Otherwise, you will distort the results of the survey by filtering out voters by the level of their economic well-being.

Telephone polls are best done in the evening so that the whole family is at home. Do not rely on the answer of the spouse of the voter, instead of himself, this will also distort your results. Usually women vote more conservatively and differently than men.

When conducting a survey, do not formulate the questions so that they suggest the desired answer. Here is an example of a suitable wording: “Good evening, is this Mrs. Mabel Smith? Mrs. Smith, you are concerned about the Civic Awareness Bureau. We are conducting a survey. Please tell me, have you decided which candidate you will vote for in the pre-election of congressmen next Tuesday? ”

Practice shows that one person can prepare a list of polled voters in one evening, and in no more than three evenings - get fifty answers. Preparing a survey using postcards with a paid answer will take about the same time, and such a survey is no worse than a telephone survey, but obtaining its results takes longer, and you need to send at least 250 postcards. However, this method may be cheaper than a telephone survey, especially if you have to make long-distance calls. (Postcards with a paid answer, 2 cents each, are an irreplaceable thing in low-budget policy).

Do not combine polls with voter turnout, and do not interview all those met on the street: the list of respondents should be compiled by a mechanical method that excludes any personal influence.

Now let's talk about the mathematical basis of the Rule of Eight (if you are not interested in mathematics, feel free to skip). To begin with, when analyzing a random sample, the larger the sample size, the smaller the statistical errors, unless these are system errors related to how the sample was taken. In my opinion, in any political survey conducted without the help of an expert, system errors are so large that it makes no sense to make a sample of more than 100 voters. On the other hand, with a sample of less than 50 voters, statistical errors determined by the laws of probability theory override all other patterns. Therefore, for a reasonable waste of time and money, we need to get a sample of the minimum volume, in which we still trace the patterns we are looking for. Thus, to assess the projected ratio of voters, we just need to get 50 answers. In addition, from 50 answers, you can immediately get the predicted percentage of votes by simply doubling them (some of us do not know how to calculate percentages).

To obtain the "Rules of Eight", Bessel's formula was used to estimate the probable error, provided a statistically independent sample of events. The statistical independence of the sample can be disputed, but the errors introduced by its irregularity can be neglected: we are only interested in the current political situation, and the advantage in it in one direction or another will be clearly visible against the background of other errors. Just keep in mind that the Rule of Eight is not a probable measurement error used by engineers, and not a standard deviation used by statisticians. The first one is too complicated for an ordinary agitator, and the second one requires a much larger sample size than volunteer politics can afford. An error rate of 8% was chosen to obtain a probability of 4 versus 1 chance that the election outcome would be higher than our pessimistic estimate,

If you can afford to make a larger selection, conduct a survey among 100 voters, and make the calculations described above, substituting the number 5 instead of 8. A mathematics-savvy reader can conduct his own statistical analysis using the formulas of Bessel, Peters, or others.

### Feel-Based Forecast

In addition to surveys and the development of forecasting skills, try another method, and over time you will learn how to use it skillfully. To do this, wander around the polling station, go to the store to buy Coca-Cola, and talk with the seller. Calling at a gas station - chat with the staff. Ask a passerby to smoke, and gossip a little with him. Have a haircut and chat with the hairdresser. Ask the oncoming road and talk with him. When you do all this, your subconscious mind will correlate the impressions you just received with the impressions of the voters ’visits (which, like the campaign manager, are scattered throughout the constituency), and you’ll have a curious, inexplicable feeling deep inside. Pull this feeling out into the light of the mind, examine it well, and decide if it tells you

A trained human mind is capable of delivering solutions to complex problems with many unknowns, faster than any mechanism invented by humanity does. Over time, you will develop your intuition, and you can predict not only the election results, but also the ratio of votes and the number of voters. Mastering this talent is completely painless, with almost no effort on your part. In the meantime, you are still learning, do not panic, even if it seems to you that you are losing with a bang.

Novice politicians are inclined to believe that their energetic efforts will instantly create a whole tidal wave of electoral votes, and they will be very disappointed when they went out to scout the polling station, finding there only slight ripples instead of a wave. This is normal: the primaries barely wake the audience from civil sleep. You need just such a ripple - the right size and in the right place. And you know for sure that this polling station is the right place, since you thought it necessary to visit the voters living here. You just have to find out what size ripples you need. You are only interviewing adults; 200,000 people live in the district; Mr. Chestnyaga needs 15,000 votes. If one of the four passers-by you surveyed has heard something about your candidate, it means your candidate is close at hand to victory. If it’s already the last month of the campaign, and only one out of ten people you met knows about your candidate, which means you need to roll up your sleeves and get to work. And do not forget to make sure that on election day your election organization ensures that all guaranteed votes are received and all polling station candidates have access to the polling stations, otherwise you will suffer a crushing defeat! But even in this situation, you can still squeeze the winning number of votes - hard work in the last week before the election. Although, it will not be easy - and it doesn’t matter how bright the situation will be with telephone polls. so that on election day your election organization ensures that all guaranteed votes are received and all polling station voters have access to polling stations, otherwise you will be defeated! But even in this situation, you can still squeeze the winning number of votes - hard work in the last week before the election. Although, it will not be easy - and it doesn’t matter how bright the situation will be with telephone polls. so that on election day your election organization ensures that all guaranteed votes are received and all polling station voters have access to polling stations, otherwise you will be defeated! But even in this situation, you can still squeeze the winning number of votes - hard work in the last week before the election. Although, it will not be easy - and it doesn’t matter how bright the situation will be with telephone polls.

→ Part 1, where there are links to all other parts