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The Keith Number

Topics: Sampling Error

My latest National Journal column looks at Keith Olbermann's polling innovation, the Keith Number.

 

Comments
jsh1120:

Great piece, Mark. It seems that every election cycle the requirement to re-educate folks about what can and (more importantly) what cannot be discerned from polling data reappears.

And as certain as flowers in springtime, the Know Nothings pop up to claim that the polls are "always wrong;" that you can't tell anything from talking to so few people; and pollsters intentionally bias their questions and results to reach predetermined conclusions.

The Keith Number, both version 1.0 and your 2.0 version, adds a lighthearted quantitative measure of uncertainty that at least suggests the limitations of what we know.

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I have a question, kind of unrelated to this, but related in general: without any polls from Hawai'i, why do so many people predict an Obama win? Are there polls, but they're not shown here?

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Uhm, I meant to post this in the other article with poll numbers. That was a mistake, I wont repost it though. :S

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rowjimmy:

"without any polls from Hawai'i, why do so many people predict an Obama win?"

Obama was born in Hawaii and it is a caucus system where neither campaign has devoted much in the way of resources. Advantage seems heavily Obama given the "native son" stuff, though there does not seem to be a poll to confirm this. Besides, polls rarely get at the end result in a caucus, which generally are decided by a very small number of eligible voters.

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Andrew Bavetta:

I think that the most reliable poll data would be obtained by eliminating the undecided choice. Why don't more pollsters do that?

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