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Archive of posts filed under the Political Science category.

Looking at the polls: Time to get down and dirty with the data

Poll aggregation is great, but one thing that we’ve been saying a lot recently (see also here) is that we can also learn a lot by breaking open a survey and looking at the numbers crawling around inside. Here’s a new example. It comes from Alan Abramowitz, who writes: Very strange results of new ABC/WP […]

Politics and chance

After the New Hampshire primary Nadia Hassan wrote: Some have noted how minor differences in how the candidates come out in these primaries can make a huge difference in the media coverage. For example, only a few thousand voters separate third and fifth and it really impacts how pundits talk about a candidate’s performance. Chance […]

Trump +1 in Florida; or, a quick comment on that “5 groups analyze the same poll” exercise

Nate Cohn at the New York Times arranged a comparative study on a recent Florida pre-election poll. He sent the raw data to four groups (Charles Franklin; Patrick Ruffini; Margie Omero, Robert Green, Adam Rosenblatt; and Sam Corbett-Davies, David Rothschild, and me) and asked each of us to analyze the data how we’d like to […]

“Evaluating Online Nonprobability Surveys”

Courtney Kennedy, Andrew Mercer, Scott Keeter, Nick Hatley, Kyley McGeeney and Alejandra Gimenez wrote this very reasonable report for Pew Research. Someone should send a copy to Michael W. Link or whoever’s running the buggy-whip show nowadays.

Q: “Is A 50-State Poll As Good As 50 State Polls?” A: Use Mister P.

Jeff Lax points to this post from Nate Silver and asks for my thoughts. In his post, Nate talks about data quality issues of national and state polls. It’s a good discussion, but the one thing he unfortunately doesn’t talk about is multilevel regression and poststratification (or see here for more). What you want to […]

Polling in the 21st century: There ain’t no urn

David Rothschild writes: The Washington Post (WaPo) utilized Survey Monkey (SM) to survey 74,886 registered voters in all 50 states on who they would vote for in the upcoming election. I am very excited about the work, because I am a huge proponent of advancing polling methodology, but the methodological explanation and data detail bring […]

Why 2016 is not like 1964 and 1972

Nadia Hassan writes: I saw your article in Slate. For what it’s worth, this new article, “Ideologically Extreme Candidates in U.S. Presidential Elections, 1948–2012,” by Marty Cohen, Mary McGrath, Peter Aronow, and John Zaller, looks at ideology-based extremism and finds weak effects of ideology. Like the high end is 1980 and the authors estimate Carter […]

Evaluating election forecasts

Nadia Hassan writes: Nate Silver did a review of pre-election predictions from forecasting models in 2012. The overall results were not great, but many scholars noted that some models seemed to do quite well. You mentioned that you were interested in how top-notch models fare. Nate agreed that some were better, but he raised the […]

Who owns your code and text and who can use it legally? Copyright and licensing basics for open-source

I am not a lawyer (“IANAL” in web-speak); but even if I were, you should take this with a grain of salt (same way you take everything you hear from anyone). If you want the straight dope for U.S. law, see the U.S. government Copyright FAQ; it’s surprisingly clear for government legalese. What is copyrighted? […]

Oooh, it burns me up

If any of you are members of the Marketing Research Association, could you please contact them and ask them to change their position on this issue: I have a feeling they won’t mind if you call them at home. With an autodialer. “Pollsters now must hand-dial cellphones, at great expense,” indeed. It’s that expensive to […]

Hey pollsters! Poststratify on party ID, or we’re all gonna have to do it for you.

Alan Abramowitz writes: In five days, Clinton’s lead increased from 5 points to 12 points. And Democratic party ID margin increased from 3 points to 10 points. No, I don’t think millions of voters switched to the Democratic party. I think Democrats are were just more likely to respond in that second poll. And, remember, […]

Balancing bias and variance in the design of behavioral studies: The importance of careful measurement in randomized experiments

At Bank Underground: When studying the effects of interventions on individual behavior, the experimental research template is typically: Gather a bunch of people who are willing to participate in an experiment, randomly divide them into two groups, assign one treatment to group A and the other to group B, then measure the outcomes. If you […]

Michael Porter as new pincushion

Some great comments on this post about Ted talk visionary Michael Porter. Most rewarding was this from Howard Edwards: New Zealand seems to score well on his index so perhaps I shouldn’t complain, but Michael Porter was well known in this part of the world 25 years ago when our government commissioned him to write […]

What’s gonna happen in November?

Nadia Hassan writes: 2016 may be strange with Trump. Do you have any thoughts on how people might go about modeling a strange election? When I asked you about predictability and updating election forecasts, you stated that models that rely on polls at different points should be designed to allow for surprises. You have touted […]

How schools that obsess about standardized tests ruin them as measures of success

Mark Palko and I wrote this article comparing the Success Academy chain of charter schools to Soviet-era factories: According to the tests that New York uses to evaluate schools, Success Academies ranks at the top of the state — the top 0.3 percent in math and the top 1.5 percent in English, according to the […]

The history of characterizing groups of people by their averages

Andrea Panizza writes: I stumbled across this article on the End of Average. I didn’t know about Todd Rose, thus I had a look at his Wikipedia entry: Rose is a leading figure in the science of individual, an interdisciplinary field that draws upon new scientific and mathematical findings that demonstrate that it is not […]

Modeling correlation of issue attitudes and partisanship within states

John Kuk writes: I have taught myself multilevel modeling using your book and read your work with Delia Baldassarri about partisanship and issue alignment. I have a question about related to these two works. I want to find the level of correlation between partisanship and issues at the state level. Your work with Professor Baldassarri […]

George Orwell on the Olympics

From 1945: If you wanted to add to the vast fund of ill-will existing in the world at this moment, you could hardly do it better than by a series of football matches between Jews and Arabs, Germans and Czechs, Indians and British, Russians and Poles, and Italians and Jugoslavs, each match to be watched […]

I know I said I wouldn’t blog for awhile, but this one was just too good to resist

Scott Adams endorsing the power pose: Have you heard of the “victory pose.” It’s a way to change your body chemistry almost instantly by putting your hands above your head like you won something. That’s a striking example of how easy it is to manipulate your mood and thoughts by changing your body’s condition. So […]

Don’t believe the bounce

Alan Abramowitz sent us the above graph, which shows the results from a series of recent national polls, for each plotting Hillary Clinton’s margin in support (that is, Clinton minus Trump in the vote-intention question) vs. the Democratic Party’s advantage in party identification (that is, percentage Democrat minus percentage Republican). This is about as clear […]