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Guide to the Wizbang Poll Tracking Tool

I've made a few changes in the Wizbang Poll Tracking Tool. I've deleted some polls and added others. First, let me give you the 10 cent tour. The tracker follows 6 polls that I selected from the dozens on the net. Primarily, I picked them for methodology and update frequency. They are all Electoral College polls except for the Real Clear Politics average and the WaPo tracking poll.

All the titles in the tracker are linked but here is the rundown.

RPC 3
That stands for Real Clear Politics 3 way race. (Nader) They take the last week of national polls and get an average. Simple and effective.

RCP EC
Real Clear Politics version of the Electoral College Race

Leip
This is a cool site. The official name is "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections" but I only have 400 pixels so I reduced it accordingly. Dave has Presidential election historical data from 1789 to 2000. It's worth a look.

ECB2004
"Daly Thoughts" breakdown which I noticed many people check.

RR
Rasmussen Reports EC breakdown. They sorta blew the last Presidential race but I wanted a "professional opinion" and I went with Rasmussen. Zogby blew his state by state coverage last time so he was rejected and Gallup has it Bush 321 to Kerry 207. I like the sounds of that but it is so far out there as of this writing, I rejected them as well.

WaPo
Washington Post daily tracking poll. Tracking polls are done with a small sample every day. This poll samples 350 people a day which is high for a tracking poll. It is an "early warning indicator" if you will. Take tracking poll results with a gain of salt, use it to spot trends. But at 350 people a night, this is a good sample.

---

Now for the changes. I was still working on the tracking tool when Kevin activated it so we had an interesting start, but it is cleaned up now. James Joyner pointed out that Slate changes their URl every day. I'm not going to follow them all over the internet so they got the boot. A "Mrs. Davis" pointed out that Electoral Projections only updates weekly. Booted.

All things considered, I think I have a good cross section of polling.

I also added a link line back to this guide so new readers would know what those numbers were. I was thinking about doing it when I noticed several users did it I decided to just make it part of the package. Plus it allowed me to add a time stamp which I wanted. The tracker will be updated at least 3 times per day.

Anyone wishing to recommend a site or make other recommendations, feel free. (Although ideas from people using the tool will get an order of magnitude more consideration.)

If you want to add the poll tracker to your site, here is the code.

<script language="javascript" type="text/javascript" src="http://wizbangblog.com/pollsyndicate.php"></script>


TrackBack

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Guide to the Wizbang Poll Tracking Tool:

» Secure Liberty linked with 2004 Election Poll Update #12

» The Unabrewer linked with Poll tracking

» Daly Thoughts and Dales' Electoral College Breakdown 2004 linked with Wizbang Poll Tracking Tool

» Right Side of the Rainbow linked with Wizbang Tracker

» bLogicus linked with Presidential Election Poll Tracker

» PoliBlog linked with Nifty Poll Thingie

» The Politicker linked with Tracking Tool

Comments (30)

Thanks for the code!!!... (Below threshold)
INBB:

Thanks for the code!!!

Code took me to the Iraqi i... (Below threshold)
Maggie:

Code took me to the Iraqi information minister.
Help!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Dave Leip's Atlas site is n... (Below threshold)
The Hort:

Dave Leip's Atlas site is neat, but the colors for D's & R's are reversed. Great link, though.

It's actually Daly Thoughts... (Below threshold)

It's actually Daly Thoughts, not Daily...

I hadn't seen the Leip site... (Below threshold)
Mrs. Davis:

I hadn't seen the Leip site before. Thanks for the link. Very good cross section. They all predict a nail biter.

Thanks for including me in ... (Below threshold)

Thanks for including me in your script!

It's actually Daly Thoug... (Below threshold)
Paul:

It's actually Daly Thoughts, not Daily...

So it is.. The script typeface in their logo made me think otherwise.

thanks

P

thanks paul, for the code a... (Below threshold)

thanks paul, for the code and great idea and good work!

At first glance, it appears... (Below threshold)

At first glance, it appears that you have mostly removed the Electoral Vote polls that showed Kerry leading. Was this intentional? Are you not concerned that this may give Bush supporters a false sense of security?

(Hope this doesn't sound accusatory).

Spoons, the EV polls that w... (Below threshold)

Spoons, the EV polls that were removed were the ones that haven't been updated. I got that by reading the post.

- Pasted it to my blogsite ... (Below threshold)
Hunter:

- Pasted it to my blogsite Paul with appropriate tip of the hat to you and the rest of the WhizBang blogEd's .... can't seem to do trackbacks with my setup yet but its crossed linked.... big big thanks for your work....

McGehee,He also re... (Below threshold)

McGehee,

He also removed Electoral-Vote.com, which updates every day (and has Kerry in the lead).

Don't be so defensive. In the first place, you didn't write the dang thing, and int he second place, I made it very clear that I wasn't accusing Paul of anything nefarious.

It is a good and fair quest... (Below threshold)
Paul:

It is a good and fair question Spoons. I wanted to address it in the post but I was striving for brevity.

Let me just be up front and give you my list of contenders and thoughts on each. If you want to skim, read my conclusion.

As McGehee mentioned electionprojection is widely quoted but I'm not going to put a once per week poll in the tracker for self-evident reasons.

Slate moves around and I'm not going to follow 3 links 5 times a day.

--
If I just wanted to cite Pro Bush polls I would have included http://www.federalreview.com/compositepoll.htm who presently has Bush 295 to 243.

Ironically, I was excited about his site because of his incredible detail in his methodology. Other than his point called "Punditry" I found it great that he gave enough detail you could reproduce his result. (does that cause a flashback?) I read it in something slower than skimming but faster than reading it in detail and his methodology seemed sound. In a twist of fate, he got tossed because I found his results too far out of range. (even though I loved the method he used so I should have trusted the number, go figure.)
---
I did not want to mention names but (since you asked) E-V.com got booted for the same reason but on the left. He is OBVIOUSLY a lefty trying to pretend it be nonpartisan. Follow his links about the "true records" of Bush and Kerry. Hint: the words "Florida" and "deserter" are featured prominently. Last night he had Kerry at 291 and Bush at 247. Well out of range. A few days ago he had a piece defending his methodology and I think I'm on solid ground when I say he was a safer boot than the conservative guy above.
--
Daly Thoughts made the cut because many people look at him and he had links to discussions on his methods on both DU and FreeRepublic. He was my last choice and I was tired. I admit the 2 links kind of won me over. Anyone is welcome to give me feedback.
--
If you reread my notes on RR, I booted Gallup for them rating Bush too high.
--

REMEMBER I ONLY HAVE ROOM FOR 6 (400 pixels)

--
This guy might have a good methodology, I was way too tired to read it all and even being a math junkie as a kid, I'm not sure it would have sunk in. He got booted because at the end of the page he linked Kos as an "election resource." OK so that might have been partisan so sue me. ;-) I still would not call Kos that. All jokes aside, I tended not to link the mathy ones.
--
These folks have it Bush 261 and Kerry 257. If I had room for 1 more, this might be it. (even though they are big time lefties) I stared to mention them in the post.
--
I found this one interesting too, he says he has a database of over 1700 state polls. He is Pro Bush but probably too geeky for many. Given a ton of space he might make the cut.
--

Conclusion
If there is a valid criticism of my methodology, it is that I threw decisive methodologies out. If you notice as of tonight, the largest EC vote tally from any source is 227 (with 270 needed to win) and all are in a tight range. Anyone giving any candidate over 250 I rejected. (Anyone giving a candidate over 270 was rejected even quicker.)

I found myself biased toward methodologies that admitted many states were too close to call. I don't know the value of that call, but as a scientist I placed some emotional, if not empirical value in that. (call it a BS detector) In effect, I'm accepting the conventional wisdom folks must be right. Admittedly, that is my bias based on well- nothing.

It would be very interesting for someone to gather up all the more decisive methodologies and see which of them was right. (I'm booked though)

Having said the above, I found MANY lefty sites that had Kerry in the 290's that all pretended to be non-partisan but if you looked close you could see otherwise.

I found an interesting set of sites that used a methodology of probability that astronomers use to find where new stars should be. Fascinating but they lost me. BTW they (I think) all picked Kerry.

On a personal note I find it interesting that most of the "noncommittal" methods that I found have Bush leading. My gut tells me that is significant. I'm sure they exist, but after an hour, I don't think I found a "noncommittal" poll that favored Kerry.

Lastly, I like RCP's averaging system (so does John Zogby) and Leip's site was just plain cool. I think they bring something unique to the table. (that the WSJ for example did not. They were rejected because they were boring and their site slow.) -- I'm not being melodramatic when I say I'm proud that Wizbang! is using these people. I put a large hunk of work into it and I like to hope the choices speak well of us.

Ok, this was not intended to be a "defense" I just dumped my thought process... Feel free to make suggestions.

Like your polls and your re... (Below threshold)
Rob McEwen:

Like your polls and your reasoning.

What would really be cool is a graph for each of them showing trends over the last several (or few) days.

But that may be too time consuming?

Just a thought.

Thanks for the thorough and... (Below threshold)

Thanks for the thorough and reasonable explanation. I see where you were going.

I do think you've identified the biggest problem with your methodolgy. By heavily favoring polls that leave a lot of EVs undecided, I think you've distorted the poll. By doing that, you favor a candidate who has a lot of "sure thing" states, and disfavor a candidate relying on a lot of "close-but-winning-by-a-bit" states. In this election, that means you're almost certainly disproportionately underestimating Kerry's likely performance. I suppose this isn't really an argument against your methodolgy as much as it is an argument against the specific polls that leave so many EVs undecided.

That's not a partisan bias, of course. As it happens, that kind of methodology favors Bush in this election, but it could easily have gone the other way.

I think your collection of polls accurately reflects the fact that anything can still happen, because there are so many EVs still in play. Where your collection has a weakness, however, is that it fails to show just how close Kerry is to winning (usual caveats about two weeks being a very long time, etc.)

Anyway, thanks for all the work you've put into this.

I do think you've identi... (Below threshold)
Paul:

I do think you've identified the biggest problem with your methodolgy. By heavily favoring polls that leave a lot of EVs undecided, I think you've distorted the poll. By doing that, you favor a candidate who has a lot of "sure thing" states, and disfavor a candidate relying on a lot of "close-but-winning-by-a-bit" states.

You are right BUT....

If all the decisive polls picked the same candidate you would have a stronger point. For every decisive poll showing Kerry winning big, I can show you one with Bush winning big. (and vice versa obviously)

All in all, they were just too random. Perhaps we need an average of all the decisive polls. -- Sort of like RCP but for EC. Dunno, that hurts the brain.

Paul

To make sure the horse is dead, any suggestions appreciated.

Paul,Thanks for li... (Below threshold)
Tony B:

Paul,

Thanks for linking to my polling analysis on secureliberty.org. Steve Lance, who rus that blog, has graciously given the results from my analysis a home there. Occasionally I provide a detailed description of the methodology in the comments section. I think it is solid but probably not perfect as nothing ever is.

If you would like more detail about the methodology, let me know and I will answer any questions you may have.

I think your collection ... (Below threshold)
Paul:

I think your collection of polls accurately reflects the fact that anything can still happen, because there are so many EVs still in play.

In a way, I envision(ed) it being a sort of tracking poll-- look for trends. When "my guys" start to move you know something is up. The problem is that you would really have to have good memory to do it.

I had the initial idea because so many bloggers were making 5 and 6 posts a day with poll data. Seemed like a waste. When I started, I had no idea picking the polls would be so involved.

Where your collection has a weakness, however, is that it fails to show just how close Kerry is to winning

That's true and I'll see if I can address it... I'm not sure how though... Did I mention I was taking ideas?

P

Hey Spoons- Go <a href="htt... (Below threshold)
Paul:

Hey Spoons- Go here and scroll down to the last chart... We might both be wrong.

Same methodology, random results.

or

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/Presidential_04/RCP_EC.html#avgs

I'm not sure I understand w... (Below threshold)

I'm not sure I understand what you're telling me.

Just that we assUMEd the me... (Below threshold)
Paul:

Just that we assUMEd the methodologies in question favored the more stable candidate and they would not move much. Yet that same method with data that was, let's face it, not that dissimilar, yielded results that I would rejected as being wild data today.

RCP who looks stable from today's chair had Bush like + 295 (or so) just a month ago.

IOW- Maybe our assumptions were a little quick. Just a point here or there would swing either candidate dramatically. Perhaps these polls are not as "decisive" as we gleaned. Maybe they just happen to be close today.

Question: Are any of the po... (Below threshold)
Rance:

Question: Are any of the polls going to be even close to the actual vote?
Robert X. Cringely has an interesting view on the subject.

In brief, he's says there are a lot of young, newly registered voters, who don't have land lines, only cell phones, and they are never polled.

See http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/pulpit20041021.html for the complete article.

This is a great addition to... (Below threshold)

This is a great addition to my site. It helps my readers get a quick view of what is happening in the polls real time.

Thanks!

Cool! I've added a link. ... (Below threshold)

Cool! I've added a link. Dales is the best at this, and I've promoted his site to just everyone, because he doesn't just mechanically go with whatever the latest individual poll is.

Is it just me - and I don't mean this as a criticism, just an observation - or is Spoons the most consistently pessimistic blogger on the Right?

Is it just me - and I do... (Below threshold)
Paul:

Is it just me - and I don't mean this as a criticism, just an observation - or is Spoons the most consistently pessimistic blogger on the Right?

Yeah, but that's why we love him.

It's a wonderful chart, Pau... (Below threshold)
-S-:

It's a wonderful chart, Paul, and I really enjoy having it on my site...so, thanks, again, for making this great reference avaiable to the rest of us. I'm very pleased that you removed SLATE's listing because it was annoying, on a purely subjective level alone -- plus entirely skewered. You might as well include results from polling "the Democratic Underground" as include SLATE's "polling" results, is what I mean. So, great, glad they're off.

Not to be opinionated, just to strike a realistic balance because the sources remaining still provide competitive and contradictory results and interpretations, but at least there's the ability to take them at least somewhat seriously, by comparison with SLATE's collection of Liberal retirees and NY media columnists. I've long since given up on that site, on MSNBC entirely: waste of time.

You've probably been told b... (Below threshold)

You've probably been told by about three thousand people already, but this morning's update has a date of 10/243.

Thanks for this great service and for making the code available to all!

(I don't know that the polls really mean anything, but this is just plain NEAT in any event.)

I have no blog page or home... (Below threshold)
Lee Shore:

I have no blog page or home page but I do have a home-brew Start Page that I laboriously hand-crafted from raw HTML in a text editor -- because I could, LOL. (It has the Weatherunderground forecast, plus links that I use a lot, such as NR Online, Wash Times and other papers, NewsMax, Freep, Drudge, etc. with logos where possible.)

I inserted your poll tracking code and it works just fine -- thanks! I can change the font (to Gill Sans Condensed) but can't seem to change the size using the Size="" tag. But it's a welcome addition to my start page; for the last two weeks I've been going immediately to RCP and now I have it on a platter, as well as your other polls.

May I suggest an additional source? Jay at Horserace Blog seems to be a professional statistician who processes his own universe of 12 polls and for 10/25 has Bush leading 48.7%-45.8% with a MoE of just +/- 0.9. He excludes Rasmussen and Newsweek, "both of which have methodological problems, in my judgment."

He also digs deeply into the individual state polls and occasionally calculates and assigns a probability that the apparent leader in a particular state is actually ahead -- a nice touch. Finally, he does a nice snarky news commentary.

Once again, thanks. I visit your site at least once a day and enjoy it hugely.

In related blogger coding n... (Below threshold)

In related blogger coding news, I have made endorsements in every race in the United States election. And you can put the form on your own site with a line of code. Y'all should see it, I would appreciate some feedback.

The sad thing is that this ... (Below threshold)
Frank:

The sad thing is that this web site has better credibility than our national news organizations.




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