Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Stripping the Polls Down

Ahhhh...it's almost October!

The wind is picking up, leaves are swirling around, the rain is coming down, and a fresh batch of candidate polls are whipping around, creating a media feeding frenzy.

"He's up by 4, she's down by 6, they are in a statistical dead heat!"

I get all warm and tingly just thinking about it!

In 2008 I came across this GEM of a website that I want to share with all my polling junkies out there.

The FiveThirtyEight Blog, now on the New York Times website.

It use to be an independent blog that would do poll analysis by breaking down all the polls, weighing them based on their polling criteria (how many people did they talk to, who did they talk to, what questions did they ask, how did they ask them, etc), and then combine all those polls for one SUPER GIANT MEGA ZORD...err, result.

What do we end up with?

I like to refer to it as the Cassandra of the election predictions. Nate Silver, the author of the blog, has an uncanny ability to predict, based on polls, election turnouts.

See, there are people who don't believe him. They call him a liberal, a democrat, a sell out to the Times...yet the numbers don't lie. Of course, people could shout out "Fuzzy Math!" or "Data Manipulations!" but when you look at HOW he does his calculations, there is VERY little room for error. The only thing he controls is how each poll is weighted, based on strict criteria depending on the bias of the poll. It's a complicated political calculus that is like when a math nerd and a political geek get together in bed and have crazy dork loving. Except it's real and unlike my example because we all know, math nerds never get laid.

Check it out and let me know what you think!

But I warn you, math nerds and political nerds, to keep a box of kleenex nearby!

No comments: