Answering to Our Robot Overlords

More

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.
Jump to comments
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.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Social Security: The Greatest Government Policy of All Time?

It's the most effective anti-poverty program in U.S. history. So why do some people hate it?


Elsewhere on the web

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

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Business

Just In