Election day is one month away from today. It’s increasingly looking like it’s Obama’s election to lose and tonight’s joint media appearance (again minus Nader, McKinney and Barr – something that should embarras America – at least an America that believes in democracy) did nothing to change.
I find myself checking the pulse of the projections every other day or so and I like 538 the best. Probably because the author of the site is a baseball guy and runs the election projections using statistical analysis in much the same manner he does at his day job at Baseball Prospectus.
Their process of running 10,000 simulations of the elections is fascinating:
The basic process for computing our Presidential projections consists of six steps:
1. Polling Average: Aggregate polling data, and weight it according to our reliability scores.
2. Trend Adjustment: Adjust the polling data for current trends.
3. Regression: Analyze demographic data in each state by means of regression analysis.
4. Snapshot: Combine the polling data with the regression analysis to produce an electoral snapshot. This is our estimate of what would happen if the election were held today.
5. Projection: Translate the snapshot into a projection of what will happen in November, by allocating out undecided voters and applying a discount to current polling leads based on historical trends.
6. Simulation: Simulate our results 10,000 times based on the results of the projection to account for the uncertainty in our estimates. The end result is a robust probabilistic assessment of what will happen in each state as well as in the nation as a whole.
I also like 270 to win because of its winning combination feature.
Most of these sites feature interactive maps and historical electoral vote information.
Because these sites rely on polling information for use in their projections it’s important to keep in mind some important facts about polls and polling. This was posted by DemfromCT on dailyKos on July 25:
1. Polls are a snapshot in time
2. Polls depend on good technique, good interpretation, and a representative sample.
3. State polling is much more difficult and less reliable than national polling.
4. Understand the difference between adults, registered voters and likely voters.
5. Get help – Compared to 2004, there are many more polling resources available on the Internet…
6. Media polls drive narrative, and often the narrative excludes other polls.
This information and 20 questions for journalists about polls from the National Council on Public Polls is not only for journalists, but important for anyone who is hearing or reading polling numbers and wondering what they mean or even if they mean anything important.
Only one poll really counts of course, and that one is conducted across the country one month from today.