MSBA Team Accurately Predicts Minnesota Voter Turnout, Wins Competition

Tue, 07/02/2019

Last fall on Election Night, as folks across the nation held their breath to see how the balance of power shifted in Congress, a team of Carlson School Master of Science in Business Analytics (MSBA) students watched results with rapt attention for a different reason.

The team of five, composed of Kavya Puthuvaya, Raghuveer Rao Vijjini, Tarun Newton, Erik Stryshak, and Shakti Kothari, was in the midst of a case competition challenging teams to predict Minnesota voter turnout.

Based on data points that determine what influences voters to cast their ballots, the team had predicted turnout for Democrats, Republicans, and third-party candidates for each of Minnesota’s eight Congressional district elections, as well as competitions for both Senate seats and the governor’s race.

 

“We looked at a number of different variables, including education, race, and income and how those translated to party affiliation and likelihood to vote,” says Raghuveer Rao Vijjini. “But there were also factors such as candidate fundraising, how popular they were, and whether or not they were an incumbent that we had to factor into our model.”

 

Thanks to their presentation a few days prior to the election, as well as the subsequent accuracy of their prediction, the team won first place in the graduate division of this year’s MinneMUDAC (Midwest Undergraduate Data Analytics Competition) Student Data Science Challenge.

“It was a great honor and a great experience,” Tarun Newton says. “This competition showed us firsthand how we could apply what we learned in the classroom.” The team was advised by Assistant Professor Yicheng Song and Lee Thomas, associate director of the Carlson Analytics Lab.

This is the second consecutive year a Carlson School team won top honors in the graduate school division in the competition. 

This article appeared in the Spring 2019 alumni magazine

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