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Politics Podcast: Why Forecasting COVID-19 Is Harder Than Forecasting Elections

At FiveThirtyEight, we spend a lot of time modeling outcomes of elections and sporting events. But, as you might have guessed, modeling the course of a novel pandemic is very different. There are so many variables and such little historical data to work with. In this installment of the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast, senior science writer Maggie Koerth and quantitative editor Laura Bronner explain how much we don’t know about the COVID-19 virus. They also discuss how epidemiologists are trying to overcome those challenges to lessen the uncertainty about the toll the pandemic might take.

You can listen to the episode by clicking the “play” button in the audio player above or by downloading it in iTunes, the ESPN App or your favorite podcast platform. If you are new to podcasts, learn how to listen.

The FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast publishes Mondays and Thursdays. Help new listeners discover the show by leaving us a rating and review on iTunes. Have a comment, question or suggestion for “good polling vs. bad polling”? Get in touch by email, on Twitter or in the comments.

Galen Druke is FiveThirtyEight’s podcast producer and reporter.

Maggie Koerth was a senior reporter for FiveThirtyEight.

Laura Bronner is a senior applied scientist at ETH Zürich and FiveThirtyEight’s former quantitative editor.