Monday, November 3, 2008

Polls and odds and numbers

Polls, Polls, Polls!!!

Do they mean anything?

Are they accurate?

Who cares?

You might use the words "number jockey" or "queen calculator" or "slide-rule Sally" but prognosticating, predicting, and understanding trends and movements is something I enjoy.

Something I would be willing to bet on would be that voter turnout will be higher in toss-up states than it will be in giveaway states. Which leads to the sad truth that polls have their own effects on the outcomes of elections. Like the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, you can't really measure without affecting the outcome. Do I even need to vote in the state of Louisiana? The polls are as red as a Commie Apple in this state, but if everyone thinks that then where is the impetus to cast your dissenting vote? Maybe this election will be a little different, there has been so much time and money spent "getting out the vote" by both candidates that we may actually see some record turnouts. Which is great, but the dollar totals adding up for this election are astounding. On one of my links below there is still a McCain campaign donation ad, "Don't worry, with even less than 24 hours to go we can still find fantastically creative ways to spend your money!"

But, lets not digress, the topic is polls...

In 2004, the average poll was only off by 1% by the day before the election. Follow this link to the Wall-Street Journal website and you will find a very cool graph that displays the trends in a myriad of polls throughout the election season. You can see Obama's bump after his DNC speech, and McCain's bump (and subsequent fall) after picking Palin.

Lately, I have also been hearing a lot about the so-called "Bradley Effect," which is named after a California gubernatorial candidate that lost the election after leading by a wide margin going into the polls. That election took place 26 years ago. If we haven't come any further since 1982, then I guess I could have just stayed in the womb till now. It would have been warmer.

Here are a couple of good links to follow the odds as they develop tomorrow:

http://www.fivethirtyeight.com

Poll analysis and trending - they give Obama a 98% chance of winning at this point.

http://www.intrade.com/

Futures trading and contracts based on all the elections. If you are a betting man (or woman), this site is for you.

We can even run our own poll - check out to the right --->

1 comment:

Maria said...

We have a new President elect, Obama.
I am overjoyed to be part of history, which it has taken a long time to get here.