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Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Final Polling Numbers

The Final Polling Numbers

Here is where the pollsters really want to get it right.   Polls are a guessing game, somewhere between a “wild assed guess” (WAG) and a “scientific wild assed guess” (SWAG).     As the US general election campaign comes down to Election Day, now is the time that the pollsters are really working hard to be “right” on their polls.

Here are the three that I track and these pollsters have been the most accurate predictors over the previous US election cycles:

         Zogby Interactive

         Tipp OnLine:

         Rasmussen Reports:

The next area of polling that gets interesting is the base models and adjustments that the pollsters put into their polling research.    For example, what is the Democrat and Republican base (voter strength) and how with the Unaffiliated voters weigh in?   Unaffiliated voters are the wild card in terms of turn out (usually lower numbers vote as compared to Dems or GOP voters) and which way will these “independent” voters trend?    Other factors that enter into the polling are how the polls are taken (by phone, in person, on-line, from exit polling, etc.) and how is the sample determined?    With larger numbers of early voters in many states, the predictive dynamics are changing as well.

Among developed nations, the US has some of the best polling organizations in the world, but despite all our best efforts, running polls is as much an art form (practice) as it is a science (statistical models). 

So in the end, the voters will decide.  In the meantime, the pollsters are trying to guess what we will ultimately decide on November 4, 2008.     Let the final poll numbers and pollsters behind them compete for the most accurate prediction of election 2008.

© 2008, Jasper Welch, Four Corners Media,


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