Saturday, November 1, 2008

Don't Panic

Democrats and other Obama supporters are a skittish bunch. Every time a tracking poll shows Obama's lead down a point, we are sure it is a trend. If his lead goes up a point, we are sure it is just staistical noise. As a Red Sox fan, I had many years of experience in this area of emotional masochism. The latest point on my graph of pessimism would have to be FoxNews new poll, which showed Obama's lead down to three from his nine point lead only a week before. Panic set in.

But then I, and others, checked the internal numbers, and discovered that the later poll had a much smaller democrat to republican ratio than the earlier poll. Doing some basic math shows that if they had used the ration from the earlier poll, Obama's lead would have been seven points (50-43) instead of three.

Now many of us would like to believe this is another example of Fox bias (as if we needed another one). But as Nate Silver at correctly points out: Fox News has never weighted for party identification, so this is simply the luck of the draw. The fact that Fox hasn't pointed out the difference is, however, the example we are looking for.

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