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Reply #126: This analysis is an embarrassment. [View All]

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Skinner ADMIN Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-22-06 08:47 AM
Response to Original message
126. This analysis is an embarrassment.
Edited on Wed Nov-22-06 08:56 AM by Skinner
To those of you who keep demanding to see the problem, here it is:

The problem is not in the mathematics (although I have not checked the math, so it's possible that there are errors there, too). The problem is in the assumptions he used before he even started.

TIA assumes that the "generic poll" should match the recorded votes. This is, quite simply, WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG.

Does everyone here know what the "generic poll" is? The generic poll (usually referred to as the "generic congressional ballot") asks respondents which political party they support in the upcoming congressional election -- but it does not provide any names of any candidates. The generic congressional ballot is not -- and was never intended to be -- an accurate prediction of how people will vote. The point of the generic congressional ballot is to get a general sense of the mood of the voters.

Think, people. THINK.

Most American voters are not political junkies or activists. Even during an election season they could not tell you for certain the name of their member of Congress. When they get a call asking them their preference between a generic Democratic candidate and a generic Republican candidate, they will simply respond based on party. A large proportion of voters would be unable to think of the name of the candidate that represents each party in their upcoming congressional election.

But what happens when those same voters enter the voting booth on election day? They are presented with a list of NAMES OF REAL PEOPLE, their candidates, listed by office and political party. And they remember what they like and dislike about all of these people. They might have expressed support for a particular party, and they might hold that generic opinion of that party, but they like their own member of Congress and don't particularly care what party he or she is in. Or they might remember the ads about how a particular candidate was a crook or sexual deviant, and now that they finally face the realization he or she is running in their congressional district, they cannot possibly vote for him or her regardless of what party he represents.

Bottom line:

You can do the best, most accurate, most awesome mathematics in the history of the world, but if you start with completely false assumptions, your "analysis" is going to be worthless.

ON EDIT: If you want to see how the outcome compares to the pre-election polls, you need to look at the pre-election polls that list candidates by name from each and every congressional district. Someone mentione up-thread that this is precisely what folks like Charlie Cook and Stu Rothenberg did before the election, and their predictions were quite accurate.
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