23 September 2008

538

I've been following this site for a while, but it doesn't seem very well-known outside of a certain set.  So I thought I'd share the site.  I know Lilith at the least will be interested in it.

Fivethirtyeight.com is run by a dude named Nate.  It's named after the number of electors in the electoral college.  And he is some kind of insane statistics wizard.  Since the site's inception, it's been pretty darn accurate with its own unique method of tracking and predicting votes.

They start off with assigning each new poll a weighting.  This means that Zogby Interactive weighs about as much as a feather, while a respected pollster like Rasmussen has a lot more oomph.  Right off the bat, this takes out a lot of the crap we see from "polls of polls," which assign Zogby and Ras the same weight.  Considering how Zogby generally has about as much to do with actual results as reading tea leaves, 538's way makes a bit more sense.

The site also does some kind of regression thing with the data, to account for days without data and trends in neighboring states.  I admit to not understanding exactly how they do this, since their methodology is absurdly complex for an English major, but I'll be damned if the results don't work pretty well.

Then, each day, they run ten thousand simulations.  I'm not kidding... 10,000 simulations of the race, according to their current data.  This gives them a pretty impressively tested dataset each day, with which to guess at future electoral votes.

So if you're interested to know where the race stands, please pay little attention to the national polls, which don't account for the fact that the office is won by virtue of electoral votes on a state-to-state basis.  Check out 538.

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