Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Random Polling

The Washington Post and ABC News have declared a winner. Sorta.

The latest polling data gathered by these organizations show that Barak Obama is leading John McCain, 52% to 43%, and that nine percentage points is greater than the margin of error so we can believe that the Democratic candidate has the November election sewn up. Mostly.

Any political science student, especially those who have taken my methodolgy course, should know that national polls mean diddlely in an election that is decided by state totals. For those who must know, right now, how the campaign is shaping up, La Professora is making the following recommendations:

1. Get over it. If you're not registered to vote, you obviously don't care enough. If you are registered, get informed on the issues and the stances of the candidates and their parties. The Republicans and the Democrats have made their respective platforms available online. Being an informed voter is far more important than being informed as to what the nation "thinks". Better yet, try Smart Voter for help on figuring out the issues -- from the national to the local -- on which you will be expected to have an informed opinion before voting.

2. Check out the various websites that predict how individual states will cast their electoral college votes based on polls taken at the state levels, not the national level. The three that appear to be better at it are:

Then there's the possibility that given the fact that there are 538 electoral college votes available, if the states split into blue and red such that there's a 269-269 tie, it will come down to Congress deciding in January 2009. That's a likelihood that at least one British reporter has explored.

If you want to see how likely that is, play with CNN's Electoral Map Calculator, using the data from the other three maps listed above.

In the end, as my romantic partner likes to point out, the only poll that matters is the one taken on the first Tuesday in November.

1 comment:

Mupetblast said...

The prediction markets have been more accurate than pollsters and political commentators for the last twenty years. Intrade is a good place to start, and they put the Obama-McCain difference at 15 points.