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Harvard Open Data Project Predicts Mahajan and Patel Will Win UC Election

The Undergraduate Council meets in the Smith Campus Center.
The Undergraduate Council meets in the Smith Campus Center. By Caleb D. Schwartz
By Kevin R. Chen, Crimson Staff Writer

The Harvard College Open Data Project predicted that Sanika S. Mahajan ’21 and Rushi A. Patel ’21 will win the Undergraduate Council presidential election based on the results of the survey it sent out to students. Official voting ends Thursday, Nov. 14 at noon.

HODP — a student-faculty group that conducts statistical analyses of campus-related data sets — has correctly predicted the results of the past three UC presidential elections.

Five tickets are vying to lead the next session of the UC: Aditya A. Dhar ’21 and Andrew W. Liang ’21, Prashanth “PK” Kumar ’21 and Michael O. Raji ’22, M. Thorwald “Thor” Larson ’21 and Case McKinley ’21, Mahajan and Patel, and James A. Mathew ’21 and Ifeoma “Ify” E. White-Thorpe ’21.

HODP predicted the election results by running a simulation based on the 237 survey responses it received. Assuming that its survey responses are representative of the voting population, the group predicted Mahajan and Patel have a 98 percent chance of winning the UC election.

Additionally, HODP predicted that Dhar and Liang — a Crimson business associate — will come in second place with an 89 percent chance, followed by Mathew and White-Thorpe in third, Larson and McKinley in fourth, and Kumar and Raji in fifth.

Charles G. Onesti ’23, Lucy Li ’21, Seth D. Billiau ’21, and Kevin L. Bi ’21 analyzed the data to make HODP’s UC election predictions this year.

Bi said that Dhar and Liang’s ticket made this year’s UC campaign season distinct from those in previous years.

“Normally we assume that the types of people who are likely to vote are also likely to fill out our survey,” Bi wrote in an emailed statement. “However, this year, we believe that there is a good chance that many of the students who would vote for Aditya and Andrew may be less likely to vote in our survey due to the unusual nature of their campaign.”

Dhar and Liang are running on a campaign to abolish the UC under the slogan “a campaign to end campaigns.”

“Nice,” Dhar and Liang wrote in an emailed statement in response to HODP’s projection.

HODP estimates that, in order for Dhar and Liang to have greater than a 50 percent chance of winning, the actual distribution of their supporters would have to be about 45 percent higher than those that participated in the survey. The group estimates that, for Mathew and Ify to do the same, their support would have to be more than doubled.

Some candidates, however, were not convinced by HODP’s predictions.

“I disagree,” Kumar wrote in an emailed statement. “I think the polls are wrong and hope to prove so tomorrow.”

Last year, the UC Election Commission adopted a new voting system. Each candidate receives a quantity of points corresponding to their ranking on the ballot — first-choice tickets receive one point, second-choice tickets receive 0.5 points, and third-choice tickets receive 0.33 points.

— Staff writer Kevin R. Chen can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @kchenx.

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