Microsoft gets into election forecasting

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Microsoft is jumping into election forecasting with a new service from its Bing search engine that incorporates political news and polling data.

The company's interactive congressional and gubernatorial map gives Republicans a 63 percent chance of winning the Senate in November, roughly in line with other forecasts.

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The Bing service joins Nate Silver's fivethirtyeight.com, The Washington Post's Election Lab and The New York Time's The Upshot in attempting to harness data from the Web to predict elections.

The Microsoft product is designed to work closely with search results.

For example, a Bing user can search "Kentucky Senate race" and the service will show Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellPeter Thiel does not make the GOP pro-gay Reid: Trump is a 'hateful con man' McAuliffe: Clinton won't move TPP without changes MORE (R) with an 83 percent chance of defeating Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes.

The service will soon include an option for users to see a digital list of everything they can expect to see on their physical ballot come election day, according to Bing corporate vice president Derrick Connell.

Citing a recent survey conducted for Bing, Connell notes that a majority of Americans say they are not informed about all the election issues, with half of those surveyed saying they do not feel confident casting their vote.

Bing launched its prediction service this past April for "American Idol" and other shows, the World Cup and, starting last month, NFL games. 

Members of the new Microsoft Prediction Lab, which features the work of economist and Microsoft researcher David Rothschild, will analyze the polling data for the Bing service.

The New York-based Rothschild recently provided background on his lab's data-driven approach to politics and other topics on the company's website.

The service’s Senate predictions can be viewed here.