Friday, September 26, 2008

Do Not Listen to the Men Behind the Curtain

"Our present addiction to pollsters and forecasters is a symptom of our chronic uncertainty about the future... We watch our experts read the entrails of statistical tables and graphs the way the ancients watched their soothsayers read the entrails of a chicken." - Eric Hoffer

Prior to the financial crisis, the biggest news has been the election, and everyone has hailed or fretted about the polls.

Polls, smolls, they don't win elections!

They way pundits go on about what this poll revealed or that poll indicated, you would think that they were getting election results. But they are not, they are just getting someone's statistical analysis of a small and possibly skewed sample size of the population.

And the way some go on about specific polls, you would think that they believe the e-mail they received saying that there is $30 million in Bank of Nigeria just waiting for them.

Polls are just a statistical tool, based on a sample of the whole population, that are used to model the population. And when it comes to humans, the way they think and are going to act, there accuracy is far from perfect.

And lately the polls, from different pollsters, are all over the place. Which tells me that the something is really wrong with the way the polls are being conducted, the questions asked, sample demographics, sample percentage of party affiliation, you name it.

So I am watching the overall trend, ignoring the outliers, and know if the percentages are close, then anything can happen come election time.

I am surprised that one pollster, Zogby (yeah, I know, the same Zogby that predicted that John Kerry would win big in 2004) said some that was truly profound about this election:
One of the country's top pollsters was in Rochester on Thursday and suggested that the November presidential election will end in an electoral landslide, even though the candidates are running close.

"Essentially the election is at equilibrium," said John Zogby, president of Zogby International. "This election will stay close until the end."


Despite two books by Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, Americans still don't know enough about him. And if they don't think they know him well enough by the time they vote, they'll go with the "comfortable old shoe," Republican Sen. John McCain, Zogby said

I leave you with this to think about: In 1980, Jimmah Carter had a small lead in the polls going into the election. Ronald Reagan (PBUH), won 44 states to 6, 489 electoral votes to 49, and won 8.5 million more votes.

Yeah, sure, I trust the polls.

Mr Minority