Answering to Our Robot Overlords

Nate Silver blogs about the emerging split between robopolls and live-interviewer polls; the former lean much more heavily towards the Republicans than the latter.  This complicates the process of deciding how to weight the polls when building election models.


Believe it or not, there's no particular reason to think that live interviewer polls are more accurate.  Intuitively, it seems like they should be, and indeed, thinks like online polls are usually next to useless because the people who bothered to answer them are not a representative sample of the population.  But neither are voters, exactly--and robopolls may actually select out the motivated voters who are most likely to actually make it to the polls.

We'll know on Tuesday night, one way or another.  But this is going to have implications beyond politics, as politicians are not the only people who want to find out what others think of them.  Changes in American lifestyles, from telecommuting to cell phones to civic engagement, are challenging traditional survey methods.  This is going to affect social science, business, and of course, politicians and the journalists who love to follow them.
Presented by

Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

Video

Pittsburgh: 'Better Than You Thought'

How Steel City became a bikeable, walkable paradise

Video

A Four-Dimensional Tour of Boston

In this groundbreaking video, time moves at multiple speeds within a single frame.

Video

Who Made Pop Music So Repetitive? You Did.

If pop music is too homogenous, that's because listeners want it that way.

More in Business

Just In