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Reply #105: Two words: [View All]

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Febble Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-25-05 01:58 PM
Response to Reply #101
105. Two words:
as per #96:

random sampling.

But to elaborate, we are asked to:

"Consider real numbers, not non-response."

If you assume random sampling (i.e. no non-response bias) then I am sure the model will do what its author says it will do. The only non-fraud explanation for the discrepancy between polls and count is some kind of bias in the poll. This is sometimes called "non-response bias" although that needs also to include "selection bias" - i.e. bias in the selection of respondents. "Non-response bias" strictly means that those who refused were different in some way from those who agreed to participate. "Selection bias" can occur if there is bias in the selection process itself. Both can happen all too easily in any survey.

If we assume that there was neither non-response bias nor sampling bias, then the model will, I am sure, reproducably give a Kerry win. I would certainly expect it to. But that is the assumption I do not share. Social scientists never do, as selection bias and non-response bias are a pretty intractable methodological problems, and, unlike "sampling error" (on which the MoE is calculated) do not reduce as sample size increases. They are also not addressed by increasing your variance estimate to allow for clustered sampling (e.g. using the DESR - Design Effect Square Root. They have nothing to do with clustered sampling, which will introduce greater variance, but should not introduce bias. The sad fact is that we cannot mathematically compute selection bias, nor non-response bias.

The only way of investigating whether what caused a poll-count discrepancy was bias in the poll or bias in the count is some kind of correlational analysis: is the bias greater in circumstances where, a priori*, you would expect it, if fraud was the factor? Or the bias greater in circumstances where, a priori, you would expect polling bias to be greater?

But we can no more investigate polling bias by ruling it out, than we can investigate fraud by ruling it out, and it is the former that our undead friend asks us to do.

*see, I can do Latin when I try!
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