Where can I find non-partisan analysis of the presidential polls?
October 23, 2008 5:53 AM   Subscribe

Where can I find non-partisan analysis of the presidential polls?

It seems like everywhere I turn all of the places analyzing the polls are saying different things. Electoral Vote is saying that the polls are tightening. Just last night CNN said they were tightening but now they are not. Karl Rove said on Fox News that the Republicans have private polls they are looking at.

Is there any place for a non-partisan analysis?
posted by hazyspring to Law & Government (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: fivethirtyeight.com
posted by oddman at 6:00 AM on October 23, 2008 [2 favorites]

Well, while Nate is definitely an Obama supporter, I think his analysis at fivethirtyeight.com is good and unbiased. He gives a lot of background on how he runs his scenarios, and recently had a good assessment of the polls he looks at.
posted by thejanna at 6:03 AM on October 23, 2008

Oddman beat me to it...
posted by thejanna at 6:03 AM on October 23, 2008

Any of the cable networks is just going to be talking about their own daily tracking poll, which have relatively large margins of error and tend to swing a bit. Which gives them something to talk about. But I wouldn't go there for accuracy.

The whole point of other sites like fivethirtyeight and electoral-vote is to aggregate all the polls that come out each day, and try to create a more accurate view of the state of the election. But if you read fivethirtyeight a bit, you'll see how complicated that is. He throws in a ton of different variables to adjust for various factors. So don't put too much stock in any one site.
posted by smackfu at 6:08 AM on October 23, 2008

I asked this question on the blue a while back. Aside from 538 I was recommended:

Election Projection
Pollster.com (my favourite - shiny flash!)
Princeton Election Consortium

Electoral Count and No toss up from RealClearPolitics.
posted by Sparx at 6:14 AM on October 23, 2008

I really like Rasmussen reports. They are nonpartisan, their sample sizes for polls are some of the largest available, and their polling methods are pretty solid. They were one of the most reliable pollsters for the 2004 election, correctly predicting the outcome of every swing state. The point of view in their writing seems to be fairly neutral and matter-of-fact; they aren't trying to pretend that the results are more or less exciting than they actually are.
posted by helios at 6:47 AM on October 23, 2008

Polls typically tighten at the end of a race. The frownyface take is that otherwise no one would watch the news or read the papers. There's probably a less pessimistic view, but I sure don't know it.

Millionthing fivethirtyeight.
posted by soma lkzx at 6:59 AM on October 23, 2008

Best answer: I also recommend pollster.com.
posted by modernnomad at 7:11 AM on October 23, 2008

Best answer: I love the old school Electoral-Vote.com. Heads above the many imitators. Great commentary, daily update, readable, and poll-savvy electoral mapping by the author of MINIX and creator of votefromabroad.org.

I would say he's very slightly left leaning in the commentary but a straight shooter with the numbers. He's a Democrat but he also worked on a Reagan campaign and provides links to Republican electoral.
posted by quarterframer at 7:35 AM on October 23, 2008

...maps. Or something.
posted by quarterframer at 7:36 AM on October 23, 2008

For a nice grid displaying the predictions, by state, of about a dozen sources (from Fox News to InTrade to AP) the take away has pulled something together.
posted by refractal at 7:43 AM on October 23, 2008

I'd say that Pollster.com gives the most comprehensive and non-partisan analysis from the standpoint of professional pollsters.
posted by Robert Angelo at 8:02 AM on October 23, 2008

I would say he's very slightly left leaning in the commentary but a straight shooter with the numbers.

Ha! You should see the hate mail he gets...
posted by DreamerFi at 8:12 AM on October 23, 2008

Another vote for fivethirtyeight. He recently did a nice review of the leanings and assumptions of the models used by the various polls.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 8:30 AM on October 23, 2008

Definitely fivethirtyeight.
posted by peacheater at 8:33 AM on October 23, 2008

HERE is a very interesting analysis of the polls. Whether you agree with his opinions or not, there's definitely a lot of interesting stuff to consider.

To paraphrase one of his points, pollsters don't primarily exist to accurately reflect data. They exist to make money, like any other business. Who are there biggest clients? Media outlets. What do media outlets want (i.e. what keeps them coming back to the pollsters for more)? A story. What makes a better story, relatively stable polling numbers that gradually change over time or wildly fluctuating numbers that make you feel like you're on a roller coaster ride? The latter, obviously. Just something to consider in all of this...
posted by jluce50 at 8:39 AM on October 23, 2008

@ DreamerFi, I think it may be reasonable to assume that they ALL get some choice AA hate mail!

I'm just realizing now that that is likely the site the OP was referring to anyway... no more pre-coffee comments for me. At least now there's a link.
posted by quarterframer at 8:54 AM on October 23, 2008

And if you want to play out possible scenarios (ie "How can McCain win if he loses Florida? Which states could possibly flip and make it technically a landslide?") then here is an interactive Electoral College map to play with.
posted by K.P. at 11:43 AM on October 23, 2008

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