Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Zogby Poll Mechanics

If you are a politics buff like me, or get your news from the Drudge Report, you probably closely follow the Zogby tracking poll, along with other such polls (the Gallup is the one featured most often). But today I saw a sentence in your release that made me say Whoa!!

The telephone tracking poll shows neither candidate with a clear advantage in the national horserace

What are the magic words? Telephone tracking poll. News flash! Telephone tracking polls don't work! One, you only select voters with phones, bias the samples for people who stay at home during the day or answer the phone ... it's very poor science! And polling is a science!

In this season of statistics, I'd like to recommend one of the best books you can read. The 1954 classic, How to Lie with Statistics is a fantastic guide for the layperson on ways companies and politicians distort statistics to make their case. And no, you don't have to be math-savvy to understand the book! In fact, the telephone poll analysis was something I read in that book years ago.


Siddhu said...

Gallup and Rasmussed are also phone tracking polls

Siddhu said...

Read Rasmussen