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Simplifying Polls

Simplifying Polls

My original method for reading polls is very thorough and can be accomplished by anyone who has a high school education and access to the graph I included in my post on the subject. (you’ll want to be familiar with my earlier post to understand where my shortcuts come from) After long contemplation I realized there is an even easier way to analyze any political poll without need for the graph.

When comparing polls from the same agency, we rarely have to worry about differing SD sizes. Since the SD ratio will almost always be 1, all we have to do is memorize certain values along the x-axis of the graph.

The way we find the x-value is simple, take the difference between the two values expressed in the poll and divide that number by half the margin of error.

Once we find the x-value we need to find out what it means. At or below x-value .5 we can assume the race is a tossup since there’s only a 55% chance the favored candidate is actually in the lead. At x value between .5 and 1.5 we can assume the race is “likely” to go to the leading candidate because there’s a 60% to 75% chance the lead candidate is truly ahead and anything above 1.5 is a decided race (“sure thing”)

Here’s an example:

A Reputable Poll puts candidate “A” at 48% and his opponent, candidate “B” has a 47% show of support with a margin of error of 2%. We take (48-47)/(.5)(2) and this gives us an x-value of 1. We know Candidate “A” has somewhere between 60-75% chance of winning this race.

Let’s apply this to a real race:

American Research Group poll. Nov. 9-12, 2007. N=600 likely Democratic primary and caucus voters nationwide. MoE ± 4.

“If the 2008 Democratic presidential preference primary/caucus were being held today between [see below], for whom would you vote?” Names rotated

Hillary Clinton 46%
All other candidate’s combined 42%

The difference between the two values is 4, half the margin of error is 2. Four divided by two is two and we know that an x-value of 2 signifies a “sure thing” so we can confidently say Hillary is the Democratic horse to bet on.*

This method is faster and can normally be done in your head. All one has to do is memorize the equation and the three significant x-values.

Just a reminder: The race for delegates in the nomination process is regional, not national. A victory for Barack in the early primaries might change the national race and these idiosyncrasies need to be noted whenever you’re doing this sort of analysis.

*A quick look over at Intrade shows the contract on Hillary to be the Dem Nominee is currently trading at $70. A quick peak at the graph on my other post shows the odds Hillary will win are well above 80%. The Hillary contract is priced right for purchase.


Playing Around for Now

Since I have obligations to make to my advertisers I can’t begin blogging on WordPress until June of next year. Until then I’m going to play around with the different features WP offers.

Living Dead

Wednesday Hero

Cpl. Jordan M. MoehnleCpl. Jordan M. Moehnle
21 years old from Los Angeles, California
Company L, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 6 (“Darkhorse” Battalion)

Cpl. Jordan M. Moehnle takes time out of leading his squad in a patrol through Fallujah’s Nazaal district to spend some time interacting with local children. Moehnle, who is on his second tour in Iraq, said the changes he has witnessed since he was last here in 2006 have been dramatic. “The city was like the Wild West, we’d put our heads and and drive down (the middle of Fallujah) and hope not to get shot,” he said. “Since we’ve been here (this year), we can stop and shoot the breeze.”

You can read more here.

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday. For that, I am proud to call them Hero.

We Should Not Only Mourn These Men And Women Who Died, We Should Also Thank God That Such People Lived

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. For more information about Wednesday Hero, or if you would like to post it on your blog, you can go here.

Wednesday Heroes are written by Indian Chris as part of a non-partisan effort to recognize the bravery of our men in uniform.

Others Participating in the Wednesday Hero effort: