Chance that Dems will win Senate equal to your chance of rolling 9, 10, 11 or 12 with two dice

As I’ve evidenced here on previous occasions, the one exception to my record as a poor student of mathematics is my fascination with laws of probability. That’s why I’m a big fan of Nate Silver and Sam Wang, the celebrated political numbers-crunchers. I pride myself, for example, in understanding that if Silver or Wang see a 60 percent likelihood that Candidate A will defeat Candidate B in the coming election, that doesn’t mean that Candidate A has a 20-point lead in the polls. On the contrary, a 20-point lead in the...

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A poll of equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans almost always is worthless

Chuck Sweeny made a good point the other day in a front-page story in the Rockford Register Star about a recent poll on the Illinois gubernatorial race between Republican challenger Bruce Rauner and Democratic incumbent Pat Quinn. Sweeny warned readers against complaining that the poll at issue had more Democratic respondents than Republicans. This is a common beef among people who don’t understand the science of polling. These folks seem to think any poll that doesn’t include equal numbers of Democratic and Republican respondents is...

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Most prominent pollsters expect greater polling error in midterm elections

The folks at Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight operation, America’s pre-eminent polling analysts, decided recently to poll the pollsters, and the results of their efforts were a bit surprising, as we see HERE: We wanted to see what the most prolific political pollsters had to say about their work, the election, their industry and where it’s headed. We reached out to 60 of the most active political pollsters in the country, and 26 took our survey. In their responses, most pollsters predict Republicans will win the Senate by a narrow...

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Mainstream media regularly misreport results of pre-election polls

Under the headline “Bluegrass Poll: Grimes takes lead over McConnell,” the Louisville Courier-Journal is out with a STORY this afternoon that reads as follows: After two polls in his favor, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has slipped behind Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes, according to the latest Bluegrass Poll. Grimes, Kentucky’s secretary of state, now leads the veteran five-term senator 46 percent to 44 percent among likely voters, the survey found. While that advantage is within the poll’s...

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The race for party control of the Senate is still close, according to the best polls

Celebrated numbers-cruncher Nate Silver’s operation, which calls itself FiveThirtyEight, has focused on presumably the most reliable polls in the most important election races this year and has declared that the battle for control of the U.S. Senate remains a tight struggle. Harry Enten reports HERE: A new NPR poll conducted by the Democratic firm Democracy Corps and the Republican firm Resurgent Republic used live interviewers (and called cell phones) in 12 states with key Senate races. Unlike many “battleground” subsamples of national...

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