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 Post subject: Poll weighting = rigging
PostPosted: Sat Nov 10, 2012 10:01 pm 
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Joined: Wed Apr 02, 2003 11:51 pm
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Location: Madison, WI
(when it favors the left, anyway)

Jason Zengerle wrote:
When I talked to Tom Jensen, PPP’s director, this morning, he was understandably in the mood to gloat. “These supposed polling experts on the conservative side are morons,” Jensen crowed. “Jay Cost” — the Weekly Standard’s polling expert who’d waged a number-crunching war against PPP — “is an idiot.” But Jensen conceded that the secret to PPP’s success was what boiled down to a well informed but still not entirely empirical hunch. “We just projected that African-American, Hispanic, and young voter turnout would be as high in 2012 as it was in 2008, and we weighted our polls accordingly,” he explained. “When you look at polls that succeeded and those that failed that was the difference.” Given the methodological challenges currently confronting pollsters, those hunches are only going to prove more important. “The art part of polling, as opposed to the science part,” Jensen said, “is becoming a bigger and bigger part of the equation in having accurate polls.”

Neil Stevens wrote:
I don’t remember anyone willing to say PPP was actively rigging the polls to reach chosen results, but there it is in black and white. Jensen decided in advance what he wanted the electorate to look like, and so tweaked the numbers until he got what he wanted. This isn’t a whole lot different from what Research 2000 admitted to doing, folks.

In science, it’s not just that you got the answer you wanted. It’s the process that matters. PPP, Nate Silver, and the New York Times – the heroes in New York Magazine’s story – are not practicing science. They’re taking their own beliefs and wrapping them up in a cargo cult. ... all-along/

The comments are a trip. Most actually point out that such weighting is just that - weighting - and that it's hard to argue with the results. Yet there are a few (Stevens and "Kyle-MI") that just can't let it go, and insist that there was something nefarious in what turned out to be a correct turnout model.

This echoes what I've read about the Romney camp, that they "unskewed" the polls and were literally shocked when they ended up losing big.

"I know because it is impossible for a tape to hold the compression levels of these treble boosted MFSL's like Something/Anything. The metal particulate on the tape would shatter and all you'd hear is distortion if even that." - VD

PostPosted: Sun Nov 11, 2012 9:26 am 
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Joined: Wed Apr 30, 2003 10:48 am
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It's always adorable when people who have no idea how something complicated (like election polling and forecasting) works decide to issue authoritative-sounding screeds about their ignorance.

The "unskewed" polls were just skewed to reflect a different assumption of the turnout model -- one that turned out to be wrong. PPP "skewed" their polls based a turnout model that turned out to be right. Simple as that.

(Nate Silver isn't even a pollster -- he takes existing polls and creates his own forecasts from them. He only ended up forecasting all 50 states correctly, which obviously means he must be a talentless hack and part of a "cargo cult.")

Back in the 2004 election, I had a "PollWatch" thread going here, and I ignored the Gallup polls because they (in my opinion and the opinion of many others) oversampled Republicans in their "likely voter" turnout model. That proved to be a correct opinion. (They did the same thing this time as well, and were just as wrong.) This stuff isn't at all new -- the right has just found a new branch of expertise to misunderstand and demonize, as is their way.

RQOTW: "I'll make sure that our future is defined not by the letters ACLU, but by the letters USA." -- Mitt Romney

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