I’ll take a brief break from fluorescent protein design, human genetics, and autism and dive back into the fray.
First, a small item: last week in the NYT, a history instructor from a university in Washington state argued against looking at social statistics to learn about one’s own situation. Basically, she gets stuck on the idea of an average, and thinks statisticians are forcing her to be Jane Average.
This is horrifyingly silly. The obvious answer is to look at the standard deviation to get a clearer view. I explain today in the NYT Letters section. The philosopher Sissela Bok supports the I-fear-averages camp…though I think “Russian families” might be her version of standard deviations. In other words, maybe we agree if you look hard enough at what we wrote.
And today in Bloomberg Businessweek, Joshua Green gets the 2012 campaign partly right.
First, he points out that Obama for America’s internal data was far better than Gallup’s. Well, sure…but that is because Gallup was one of the worst-performing polling organizations of 2012!
Then Green claims that OFA had better data than pollsters did. Well….no, no, no. Does he forget this?
The meta-analysis here at the Princeton Election Consortium caught the major pivot points, such as they were. We had far better time resolution than the OFA graph. Throughout 2012, we pointed out that the race was basically unmoving since June. And we reported all of this live, day by day. In fact, I would argue that the principal justification for Green’s graph labels comes from during-the-campaign poll aggregation.
The point is not about how great we are here at PEC. It’s that publicly available data during the campaign told this story as it unfolded. OFA data is certainly interesting, but it is not a Rosetta Stone.
P.S. Of course, the Meta-Analysis has a certain time lag that one must be willing to visually “un-lag” or un-filter. The turning points are the key. If you want to see sharp, single-day turns, that is also available. National polls are easier. Here is one example; there are others on this site if one digs.