Princeton Election Consortium

A first draft of electoral history. Since 2004

Blown away

October 29th, 2012, 11:11pm by Sam Wang


Not by Sandy, though the winds are pretty high (check out this excellent moving representation).
I’m more blown away by the web traffic over the last few weeks. Take a look.
The above screenshot is what I see backstage. Traffic has doubled every 1-3 weeks since July; lately the doubling time has been 6 days. We’re running at about three times the traffic we got in 2008. Today, the Princeton Election Consortium received nearly 200,000 views. Note the number of referrals from Reddit, Facebook, and Twitter. That’s a new development. The list used to be heavier on politically-oriented sites such as Andrew Sullivan, Kevin Drum, and Balloon Juice. Liftoff?

Thank you all for reading and visiting. Andrew Ferguson and I will try to keep it interesting in the remaining days of the campaign.

Tags: 2012 Election · Site News

243 Comments so far ↓

  • Tim

    I live in Kew Gardens, NY, in the heart of Queens. First thing I did this morning was log on to the NYT to see how the dear city was faring. Not well. The second thing I did was log on to this site. And, presto!, the meta margin had crept up. PEC, the calm before, during, and after the storm.

  • Wendel Schneider

    You do have momentum! Just look at that second derivative.

  • Marie

    I have only been a PEC visitor for about two weeks – a comment on Baloon Juice said something about Nate and Sam Wang. I know the Nate (since 2008) and now I know the Sam. Love both sites – this one is so much more math nerdy (which I am not but my son is!) but they complement each other. I like the difference in the data used – one allows external factors and one doesn’t.

  • Carsten

    Hi Sam,

    as an exile in the UK, finding unbiased data is always a chore. Thanks for making my life a lot easier!
    Greetings from London

  • Joey Scarborough

    My gut still get more viewers than you so pipe down, nerd!

  • Dean

    My first time here was when I listened to the NPR audio clip of Dr. Wang and Mr. Silver discussing our president’s chances of winning reelection.

    I too have become an “update junkie.” I know we are not supposed to put too much weight into individual polls, but here is a nice Ohio poll for the president that was just released:
    http://elections.huffingtonpost.com/pollster/polls/jz-analytics-newsmax-16306

    • FloridaDOC

      Agreed about being an update junkie….
      I do have a question about the Newsmax polling Methodology….
      I don’t see any Newsmax polling data included in the RCP Aggregates, and I faintly remember Silver criticizing Newsmax/JZ analytics…

      Can someone explain what the issues with Newsmax’s data/polling are?

  • Oscar Wildebeest

    I can’t remember where I came across PEC first, but it was sometime before the ’08 election. I didn’t pay much attention, since the outcome was never in doubt, but this year has been a different story.

  • Mike

    Just keep talking about Nate Silver and Reddit will keep sending you hits :)

    Congrats on quality analysis. Maths will always win in the end.

    • Sam Wang

      Write about Nate Silver for the next seven days???

      Blurk. I’d rather write about Sarle’s bimodality coefficient as applied to Ohio polling…or voter fraud. Do you like voter fraud? I’ll even look at polling internals. Anything.

  • mediaglyphic

    Amazing that you are getting so much traffic, i am an old time Operations Research professional, and really love your methodology. Since the traffic started booming the interactive maps don’t work for me anymore. The Java symbol just spins. I wonder if they are just bogging down.

  • LP Howard

    Because. Of you, I can sleep. at night.

  • wheelers cat

    I came here from Dr. Wang’s link to a 538 post a couple of months ago. This site has the best discussion threads of any aggregator on the interwebz. Popularity can kill, Dr. Wang.
    I think those of us that followed the 2008 election will admit mysterypollster (Blumenthal) and Nate just don’t have the lively comment threads like they did in 2008. I hope that doesnt happen here.
    But possibly PEC is immune because Dr. Wang is actually the inscrutable asian prince of the nerd kingdom.
    Kind of like the Man With The Iron Fists of Statistics.

  • Canadian Fan

    I am addicted to PEC, just can’t stop visiting your webpage. I check every 5-10 mins. Thank God I will have my life back by next week (after the electon). Cheers from Canada.

  • ML Henneman

    One hint – for external links, have them open in a new tab or window, and that will keep people here longer!

  • Czeh Nerd

    Thank you! Although I am from Prague, Czech Republic, I am following the elections quite heavily. Basically, because I believe that you and some other guys (like Fivethirtyeight.com or Nerdwallet.com) are doing great job, I decided to invest on some of my money and bet on Obama’s winning since the odds on Intrade are screwed :)

  • StatsJunkie

    Sam, a week or so ago, you mentioned that one could determine the state of the race by seeing where each candidate was campaigning. Well, Obama is obviously tied up with more important matters, but I was struck with news that Bill Clinton was suddenly dispatched to Minnesota, along with reports that the Obama campaign was seeking more volunteers to work there, apparently at very short notice. Is it possible that their internal polling might be confirming that one presumably-outlier poll from yesterday, and that Minnesota might suddenly be “in play?”

    • Sam Wang

      Maybe. Interesting point. In 2004, Cheney was sent to Hawaii under similar circumstances – one unusually good poll. Insurance?

      I was more struck that Biden went to Pennsylvania.

    • Mark Oswood

      Minnesota has same day voter registration. This has led to some interesting election results (for example, Gov. Jesse Ventura). I’m wondering if likely voter screens are less reliable with the possibility of same day registration, resulting in variable polling.

  • Jim McMartin, Ph.D.

    I discovered PEC about a month ago and have posted its Obama EV estimate every day on Huff Post political (I. E. poll news) threads. Visiting here 3 – 5 times per day helps keep my spirits up. I particularly love the graph of the EVs from before the first debate to now. Thank you for providing a wonderfully informative site.

  • TD Thomas

    Thank you Dr. Wang, and all those involved in providing sane, rational, math-based evidence (in place of rhetoric, deceit, half-truths, dogma, and ideology)!

    Please keep up the great work — I am a new follower!

  • Jewish Steel

    “Andrew Ferguson and I will try to keep it interesting in the remaining days of the campaign.”

    What, you’re not going to do something interesting post election? I mean, you have our attention. I can’t believe you haven’t considered leveraging the audience you’ve built here into some other pet idea.

    Unless, of course, the NYT snaps you up or something. :)

  • Ms Jay Sheckley

    Thanks so much, Andrew Ferguson.

  • Rey Howard

    Doing my part here in LA! By posting to my Facebook wall, on a near-daily basis, links one of your three iconic images — EV Estimator, all outcomes, or interactive map. I’m also, as previously mentioned, posting links to these images as responses to my friends’ Romney’s-gonna-win panic attacks. Hence my aforementioned dismay at that Crossroads GPS graphic that keeps popping up alongside! =^)

  • mar wolf of MI

    This is my source for mutually exclusive statistics and comfort. I read 538 daily as well, but PEC is and will be my 24/7 source for election intel until all is said and done with this election. Note I didn’t say 11/6/12. I’m old enough to still have 2000 stuck in my craw.

  • Adrian in Seattle

    I’m pretty sure about 5000 of those hits every day have been me. I see Romney signs everywhere, I watch the MSM in the morning which tells me Romney is going to win, I read the RCP poll of polls, Politico and even 538 and in a panic I spend the rest of the day coming here for some math and reassurance.

  • Mrs. L

    That’s my fault. I’ve been singing your praises over at Democratic Underground and Daily Kos and have you as one of my home pages. Never mind refreshing for every update AND new comments. You keep many of us calm and sane in a sea of media distortion. Thank you!

  • Michael S

    I’ve been coming here since the beginning. Don’t slick up the website. The old school look has a particular charm. You might want to make an HTML5 version of your maps as Java isn’t there on many new devices.

    • Andrew Ferguson

      yeah, I would definitely like to get away from Java for next time. alas, the cartographic parameters are embedded in the Java code, and I didn’t see a quick way to port that over to HTML5 while we worked on other code this summer. but yes, definitely worth doing for next time.

      thanks!

    • xian

      also, the java app is a tad buggy – often needs some clicking through a state’s states to get the total math to correct itself.

    • Michael S

      Andrew, just put the source on github and crowdsource it.

  • Ms Jay Sheckley

    Wow, and all because I told people :D
    So… add a few more daily updates, please.
    Can’t get enough.

  • CobaltinSF

    Thank you Dr. Wang. This site and your work has been the source of sanity and useful information this campaign season. I used to visit multiple sites a day for campaign news. After coming here, it was so revealing how much hysteria and disinformation is disseminated by the MSM. This is now the only site I read for election info. I know this is a Princeton site, but it’s motto could be Yale’s: “Lux et veritas.”

  • Dgarr

    I have been here daily and I am so grateful for your brilliant work and calm voice of reason. I have shared this site and your interviews with every person I know. Thank you so much Dr. Wang!

  • felix

    it would be interesting how 538 looks like. Does it trend in line or is PEC taking over, at least on growth of repeat views?
    I agree with the previous comment that there are individuals even in this society that care about quality!
    GO NERDS!

  • Patricia Boettger

    I also heard you and Nate Silver on NPR Science Friday while walking my dog out here in Southern California. Since then I’ve visited your website frequently and posted your daily EV numbers on the white board at the front of my high school history classroom. Your meta analysis enlivens this historic event and now my students look for the daily prediction! Thanks for your great work!

  • New PEC Fan

    I’m one of those new people who’ve recently found this site. All I have to say is, where have you been my entire life? I love FiveThirtyEight, but as good as the analysis is, Nate can be a humorless bore. I don’t know what it is, but you have me cracking up with every new post. I think it has something to do with being a nerd. Anyway, keep doing what you’re doing. I love it!

  • JohnJacobs

    Well deserved. Good luck handling the storm.

  • Billy

    Sam, are those unique visits/are you factoring in all of the PEC junkies that are mashing refresh in their browser? :)

    • Andrew Ferguson

      great question. unfortunately, the WordPress stats aren’t very clear on this distinction. I’ve just added Google Analytics tracking, so maybe that will provide a clearer picture in a day or two. thanks for the push to do this — tracking you all hadn’t been high on my “todo” list :-)

    • 538 Refugee

      Have you checked out something like AW stats? I know that gives ‘unique’ visitors.

    • Andrew Ferguson

      @538 Refugee, I didn’t know about AW stats. thanks!

  • Seth Gordon

    Since the past few weeks have brought you such a massive increase in page views… just imagine how big your audience will be in December!

  • creeksterone

    Look who’s got momentum!

  • Chris

    Dr. Wang,

    This is off subject, but is there anywhere that shows what the standard error is on the EV calculation? Or have I just slept too much since my last statistics course and I am overlooking an otherwise obvious calculation?

    Thanks!

  • 538 Refugee

    Clients have asked me how to increase traffic on their websites. My answer? Build a good web site. Weird huh? ;) That said. people like to be able to have input. It is also a reason for them to keep coming back Static sites don’t fare as well. Consider actual forum software so folks can follow the comments easier. That is my only concern with the site as it now stands. The actual content is top notch. I tried to leave a comment on your book site but the google stood in the way. :(

    • Andrew Ferguson

      hey, thanks! do you have any recommendations for good forum software which integrates with WordPress? (we could also migrate away from WordPress for 2016, I suppose) — we definitely didn’t anticipate the growth in comments this cycle!

    • Jay Bryant

      Content is king. If you have information people want, they’ll come to your site, even if it is just ordinary in appearance.

    • 538 Refugee

      Not off hand. vBullitien seems to be the easiest/most intuitive/widely used forum software. It used to be free for non profit use. Integration generally just means single sign on from what I can see. From some of the comments I’ve seen you can probably get some help with this before the midterms from interested folks. My guess is you could probably collect some email addresses from interested parties and perhaps start a mailing list and spend a couple of months exploring ideas in terms of what CMS might be best in the long run. Obviously nothing will happen until after the elections. In the meantime I’ll check into some options though.

    • Matthew M

      Andrew and Sam, I would add that no matter how your approach to community/discussion evolves, please continue to insist upon civility in the forums.

      There are already more than enough places for trolls, shills and bullies to have their say online.

  • JohnB

    You’ve been used as data to buttress the arguments of several online sites in the last few months, with links at 538 (how I got to you) and Krugman, among others as I’m sure you can see. Also the two charts at the top are not only somewhat iconic, but significantly difficult for conservatives to look at, so naturally they can’t help but look at them (much like a high speed car chase).

    • Insidious Pall

      Partially accurate; I would add the leftist commentary and ‘whistling past the graveyard’ to your car chase analogy.

  • sleeps

    I can’t remember where I heard about it, possibly twitter, but I’ve been feeding my addiction to the site since just before debate #2. Thanks for all the updates from the current eye of the storm just outside Philadelphia.

  • JMan

    I see reddit/r/politics on there.

  • Stephen Strom

    How about a semi-log plot? It might help some folks to see the doubling time a bit more easily. Perhaps after the election, it would be helpful to prepare a ‘statistics for dummies’ series: understanding statistics is fundamental to understanding so many issues and policy choices.

  • Tess

    I enjoy the site very much.

    I also referred it to many people who were panicking after the first debate.

    Many thanks!

  • Topjob66t

    And you just got a few references from some posters over at Political Wire. So get ready for that graph to go through the roof.
    Looks like I survived Sandy but lower Manhattan is pretty well screwed.

  • orchidmantis

    Look out, NRO will demand your heart next.

    I am not entirely sure how spamming Nate and you will lead to a Romney victory, but I picture a deal with orcs somehow being involved.

  • Sean Ernst

    Congrats Dr. Wang, the attention is well deserved

  • cyntax

    Andrew Ferguson and I will try to keep it interesting in the remaining days of the campaign.

    Nevermind the whole weather thing, I’m confident you guys will keep it very interesting. And thanks for the advice on ignoring individual polls; it’s helping immensely.

  • Shawn Huckaby

    Well, I’ve certainly been linking to you right and left (no pun intended), and much of it through twitter. Gotta share the wealth (again no pun intended!).

  • Andrew Ferguson

    And as an addendum, I want to say thanks again to everyone who has contributed via ActBlue! I am completely amazed and delighted by the turnout!

  • Jon V

    oh, yeah, I also visit your site multiple times each day, not sure if that helps, but I am an update junkie, thanks for the hard work, keep it up

  • Jon V

    Congrats on the views Sam. I like the objective transparent methodology you utilize. Do have any thoughts on Gallup lately, or in particular their polls on early voting, as they seem to conflict with other reports I have read about actual voter turnout.

  • PThomas

    I learned about your site on NPR Science Friday — which I believe was on October 19. That’s when the big upswing started!

    • Terry Carroll

      Ditto. I’ve been a fan of Nate Silver’s since 2008 … and Science Friday for as long as it’s been on. So hearing Sam Wang share air time got me over here. I love the analysis, explanations, and the ever-so slight snark (but keep it slight, okay?). Since then, I’ve been visiting daily, and recommending it along with 538 whenever my friends seem to be suffering from hair fire.