Monday, October 29, 2012

Accurate polling data v. spin machines: Obama will win!

Princeton Election Consortium (PEC) defends Nate Silver of 538 against conservative spin that Silver's projections are more based on personal bias than on fact. The article also links to Krugman's defense of Silver. The good news is that both PEC and 538 see Obama winning the electoral vote (EV) handily. The PEC article linked to an earlier article saying basically that we see what we want to see. We select that information which supports our worldview and ignore the rest. Which of course is the conservative response to 538, that Silver's worldview bias is affecting the outcome of his predictions.

However PEC did note the following in the earlier article:

"In the same study, however, when subjects were asked to imagine their reaction if the evidence had pointed to the opposite conclusion, they were more open-minded to information that contradicted their beliefs. Apparently, it pays for consumers of controversial news to take a moment and consider that the opposite interpretation may be true."

They didn't explore this further though, because not everyone is likely to be more open-minded about non-supportive data. Recall some of the studies I previously sent, like this one that said: "When faced with a conflict, liberals are more likely than conservatives to alter their habitual response when cues indicate it is necessary" (source, #15).

So poll bias is not the same for PEC and 538 as it is for conservative poll spin, since the former are more capable of being open to contradictory data and in fact include it in their calculations.* Given that inclusion it is all the more reassuring that Obama's odds are so high compared with typical media hype having it so close based on their own generally unconscious biases to making it an exciting horse race above all else.

* Note that Silver's predictions have been quite accurate. PEC claims that they got the EV exactly right in 2004, and were off by only 1 in 2008.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.