October 05, 2004

Following the Horse Race

With the presidential polls all over the map this election, some websites are trying to provide perspective. If all you're interested in is the horse race, a site like electoral-vote.com offers an easy-to-read map with state-by-state data. So does Daly Thoughts. PollingReport maintains up-to-date graphs of major national and state polls. Polstate.com offers the best state-by-state review we've seen.

Other sites attempt to calculate figures more predictive than the public polls. Two favorites: Political Forecasting and Federal Review

More than you wanted to know? Then let me recommend one site that can help put this morass of data into perspective. The "Mystery Poller" isn't a mystery at all. He's Mark Blumenthal, a professional pollster. Blumenthal works for Democratic candidates, though his site's purpose isn't to proselytize but to educate us about the nuances of interpreting polling data.

His FAQ should be read by every reporter who writes a story about poll results. Blumenthal addresses such issues as: "Why are the polls showing such diverse results?" and "How do pollsters pick likely voters?" His most current entry, "The Incumbent Rule," explains why Bush's approval rating might be more relevant to the final results than the president's standings in the last head-to-head poll matchup with Kerry before the election. Good stuff.