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Current Obama pWP: 37%

A few new polls, a small shift in Obama’s favor. Here’s the big graph:

The data is finally starting to become clearer. The pWP numbers are settling closer to the 40% pWP mark and the range is decreasing, giving Romney a slight edge going into the last week of the campaign.

Current Obama pWP: 36%

What’s the best way to pretty up an ugly graph full of data points? Average them out and add cute labels:

Romney keeps his slim lead after the third debate, but right now I’m skeptical of the aggregate pWP numbers, as the range of values in the raw data is so great.

Who’s Ahead?

Polls are being posted everyday, and the data is coming hard and fast. As my previous two posts have suggested, it’s not entirely clear who, between Romney and Obama, is going to win the popular vote. So let’s take a look at the data, first Obama’s:

The numbers are showing quite a bit of spread, but it’s getting better. Over the last week or so, Obama looks to be polling between 45% and 48%.

Here’s Romney’s graph:

As you can see, there is a much greater range when it comes to the GOP nominee. The graph shows a hammerhead-like formation as we enter the final week of the campaign. Pollsters are having a [more] difficult time finding the electorate’s propensity to support Governor Romney. Maybe it’s because of Romney’s chameleonesque political liturgy or just because he’s not the incumbent with four years of apocalypse-free stewardship.

Still, there’s a strong level of support at the 49% mark. If Obama is at the top of his range, the race is 49-48.

In terms of pWP, Obama has 32% chance of winning the popular vote, assuming undecideds break proportionally. But, this is not normally the case. There are a few general rules when it comes to predicting how a race plays out in terms of turnout: 1) Undecideds break away from the incumbent, unless the economy is really rocking; 2) Democrats do better in POTUS election years; 3) The base of the party out of power has a stronger turnout.In this election, the economy question is open, but most people are unhappy with Obama in this category. Point 2) favors the Dems, and point 3) favors the GOP. Things look pretty good for Romney again. Of course, Ohio is where all this really matters. And Obama is still in control in Ohio.

No Signal, Just Noise

The first few polls with reactions to the third debate are out, and when combined with the other recent polls… Well… I don’t want to talk about it:

That’s a lot of noise. Obama’s pWP average over the last week is 55%. That doesn’t mean much when the data is so scattered about. Here is a graph of just Obama’s pWP numbers, without his level of support included:

Unlike in previous weeks where there was a clear central tendency in the polling numbers, the pWP numbers since the VP debate have been ambiguous and to a surprisingly strong degree. I have never seen data so stubbornly and amazingly ambiguous.

On the state level, where the election will actually be decided, the numbers are much less confusing. Obama has comfortable leads in Ohio, Iowa, Colorado and Nevada. While, just based on popular vote, this is looking like a coin flip, the actual distribution shows Obama is in a very strong position for re-election. I’ll be taking a closer look at Ohio in later posts.

If you’re looking for a big tip, might I suggest picking up the Obama to win contract at Intrade.

Current Obama pWP: 36%

Regardless of whatever political analysis being floated on the subject, the debates have been a very big net positive for Mitt Romney. He enters the final debate tonight with a slight lead in pWP.

Noise

The following graph shows all the polls I currently have in my spreadsheet in the POTUS race, without the normal pWP calculation:

As you can see, right now there is very little agreement between the polls as to what level of support each candidate has, as a percentage of the population. Is Obama at 47% or 48%? Is Romney at 46%?

I don’t know. And to say with certainty, by looking at the above graph, that you have a good idea as to who is leading the race and who isn’t, is pure foolishness. This is why I’m incredibly skeptical of the process of averaging out multiple polls with a rolling average, like RCP does. Doing a raw average simply ignores the way polls work.

This is why I believe pWP is a better way to aggregate polls. I’m not trying to figure out if Romney has 46% support. I only care about what the polls are telling me about the propensity of the electorate to support one candidate over the other. If polls consistently show one candidate getting more support than his opponent, that is a better indication of who is likely to win than trying to intepret the results based on percentage of support found in the particular sample.

For example, if I have three polls that show candidate A is winning a race by 42%-41%, 50%-45%, and 49%-48%, averaging these polls gives me a race of 47%-45% in favor of candidate A. It looks like Candidate B is within 2% of overtaking A, giving Candidate B some much needed hope. And based on averages this would be true, but I see the race much differently. To me, Candidate A is ahead in all three polls, which means the electorate is far more likely to elect Candidate A than the 2% lead suggests. The propensity of the electorate is firmly behind Candidate A. Instead of “generally ahead,” I would say Candidate A is “Strongly” ahead (i.e. more likely to win than our intuition would suggest).

Averaging polls is simply misleading. It allows for too much subjective interpretation, revealing the bias of the user, instead of predicting the bias of the electorate.

Current Obama pWP Graph

Make whatever sense of it you can.

Current Obama pWP: 56%

The polls looked ambiguous right after Biden’s performance in the VP debate, and it may not have been the VP debate specifically, but the race is back to a toss-up:

Obama Post-Debate pWP? OMG…

As we can see, the debate absolutely deflated the President’s pWP. It fell off a cliff, falling from 77% to 27%. Obama’s debate performance cost him 50%pWP. Simply unbelievable.

Here’s the graph with the individual data points:

The Education Bubble

I submitted a piece to the MNDaily about the education bubble a couple of weeks ago, and after I had finally given up on it being published, they went ahead and published it. I hope I don’t lose my membership in the alumni association.

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