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View Diary: CNN calls a five-point lead for Barack Obama in swing states a 'tie' (157 comments)

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  •  standard practice is considering 2 x MoE as a lead (0+ / 0-)

    as Ap does. Their style sheet is useful even if not gospel.

    "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

    by Greg Dworkin on Fri Sep 14, 2012 at 11:06:53 AM PDT

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    •  Yeah, they compare 2 doubliings. (0+ / 0-)

      I thought about this more. If nobody who knows more about statistics posts something relevant, I'll bring my 1/2 of an education on the subject to bear.

      The lead is really a doubling; it's Smith's number minus Brown's number. Then they use twice the margin of error to compare.

      The problem is that too many of the innumerate hear "margin of error" as something absolute. It ain't. The difference caused by statistical error is unlikely to be a little inside the margin of error; it is slightly less likely to be a little outside the margin of error.

      And since the poll results are reported to the nearest whole percentage p[oint, how far outside the poll results are is a matter of guess work. I wish that they would say "This great a difference would happen X% of the time if the underlying population was evenly divided." But they never will. That would only be helpful to those who know ariithmetic, and that is not the audience which advertisers want.

      •  what they re trying to get at is this: (0+ / 0-)

        given this lead of X points, does that mean candidate A is likely to win if the election were held today? That's all.

        What does likely mean? How much is enough to say that? Imperfect though the AP guidelines may be, if someone is leading by twice the margin of error, the public would be shocked if the guy lost, and it would be considered a true upset. In that sense, the do the job.

        "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

        by Greg Dworkin on Sat Sep 15, 2012 at 09:49:37 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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