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Reply #124


Response to grantcart (Original post)

Sun Oct 7, 2012, 06:00 PM

124. Sent to Sam Wang - along with some math

Sam Wang has a great poll-aggregation site: election.princeton.edu . He also includes your friend at Gravis, and your info via dailykos is already there.

I added my own twist: a math-based analysis of whether Gravis poll numbers look real or made up. (They don't look real. He has his 'favorite numbers' for filling in the after-the-decimal-point digit that makes a poll number sound oh-so-real. I mean, if a pollster goes through the trouble to report values as exact as 43.9%, they sound 'sciencey' and must be real, right?)

Here are the nasty details:


I pulled up a poll from the Gravis web site, that gave a number of 3-significant-figure percent values. I took only the last digit of each poll number (- the number after the decimal point, which should be randomly distributed from zero to nine -) and it looked strange. I counted the occurrences of odd and even digits (32 odd, 10 even) and applied the "Monobit frequency test", and found that this distribution has a 1-in-one-thousand chance of occurring by accident likilihood of occurring by accident. That's way too low - suggesting the numbers were, uh, invented.

It is true that I 'polluted' this test because I first noticed the non-random pattern and then picked a test that was geared to the non-randomness that I found. Also, Monobit requires more than 100 entries; I just had 42.  (And that a true random collection of numbers does sometimes look nonrandom.)

But in my defense: this was a quick first effort, from a polling sample picked at random, and a more sophisticated analysis would probably identify an even higher non-randomness.


Gravis poll used for evaluation: 

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/docs/2012/Gravis_FL_1001.pdf

Last significant figure of each entry: 

307173 94359 07797 0559
37 0394517 4913950 532372. 

Frequency of occurrence:
0. =5
1. =3. 
2. =2. 
3. =8. 
4.  =3. 
5. = 6
6. = 0. 
7. = 8. 
8. = 0. 
9. = 7. 
---

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