Thursday, September 23, 2004

the value of polling

with all the conflicting polls out there it's hard to know how this race is actually shaping up. i'm not a big fan of polling - i know just enough about statistics to feel confident that i have no idea which polls adhere to reasonable models and which ones are total hooey. kevin drum has a great post on the subject, discussing the increasing inaccuracy of polls and why the current notion of polling data may become obsolete.

What we're seeing this year may be the Cheynes-Stokes breathing of traditional polling models, and by 2008 the whole enterprise may either be dead or changed beyond recognition. In the meantime, though, we have the worst of all worlds: we're still relying on traditional polls even though the sample distortion is too large to be massaged away with fancy software, but we don't have new polling models to replace them yet.
In other words, we don't really know who's winning. Election day may turn out to be a real surprise.

- LH


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