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Anyone ever read Real Clear Politics "averages" (VANITY)
2/11/16 | Self

Posted on 02/11/2016 1:52:47 PM PST by Riflema

Countless News Organizations refer breathlessly to the Real Clear Politics "RCP Poll Average" as the go-to source for the big picture view of the candidates' standings. But did anyone take a look at that source and figure out how they come up with their numbers? With some trepidation, in fear of what I would find, I did.

Here's today's RCP Average and the individual polls it summarizes:

 Poll Date Sample Trump Cruz Rubio Carson Bush Kasich Christie Fiorina Spread RCP Average 1/22 - 2/4 -- 29.5 21 17.8 7.8 4.3 4 2.5 2.5 Trump +8.5 QuinnipiacQuinnipiac 2/2 - 2/4 507 RV 31 22 19 6 3 3 3 2 Trump +9 Rasmussen ReportsRasmussen 2/3 - 2/4 725 LV 31 20 21 5 4 6 3 3 Trump +10 PPP (D)PPP (D) 2/2 - 2/3 531 LV 25 21 21 11 5 5 3 3 Trump +4 IBD/TIPPIBD/TIPP 1/22 - 1/27 395 RV 31 21 10 9 5 2 1 2 Trump +10

Now take a look at any candidate's column and do their math, RCP style:

e.g., Trump: 31%, 31%, 25%, 31%, add 'em up and divide by 4 to get the mean, bingo!, 29.5%!!

I'll simplify the problem with this:- suppose one of those polls was a sample of 2000 voters and one was 100 voters and they came in as follows:

 Poll Date Sample Trump RCP Average 1/22 - 2/4 -- 22.5 Poll 1Quinnipiac 2/2 - 2/4 2000 RV 30 Poll 2Rasmussen 2/3 - 2/4 100 LV 15
Using RCP's technique they would give the Donald 22.5% (30% + 15% divided by 2).

But are you ready to buy that? What Real Clear Politics is actually demonstrating here is innumeracy.

If 30% of 2000 voters and 15% of 100 voters favor Trump, the correct average is:

(30% x 2000) + (15% x 100) = 600 + 15 = 615 voters out of 2100 = 29.3%

It's called a weighted average, RCP. The poll of 2000 voters has way more weight than the one of 100 voters. Get it?

I guess since the majority of consumers of this junk are journalists we should not be surprised that it is swallowed and regurgitated so readily. Over all my years of reading their junk, I long ago ceased to be amazed at their fundamental inability to master any of the hard sciences, you know, the ones that involve math. Sheesh.

As John Huang used to say, that's just my 2c. (and excuse the crude HTML!)

KEYWORDS: brokenrecord; dds; derangementsyndrome; ibtz; ilovetowhine; innumeracy; journalists; tds; waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah
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Given the similar decline in editing in general, is it any wonder the Fourth Estate finds itself in such dire straits?
1 posted on 02/11/2016 1:52:47 PM PST by Riflema

To: Riflema

Which may be why Trump under-polled in NH.

2 posted on 02/11/2016 1:59:27 PM PST by LS ("Castles Made of Sand, Fall in the Sea . . . Eventually" (Hendrix))

To: LS

Cruz is Push Polling in South Carolina

3 posted on 02/11/2016 2:04:04 PM PST by scooby321

To: scooby321

Which would not affect RCP in any way.

4 posted on 02/11/2016 2:07:07 PM PST by Bidimus1

To: Riflema

It’s called the RCP Average because they usually take 3 polls, and average them. That’s all. Not really sure what the big deal is.

5 posted on 02/11/2016 2:08:12 PM PST by Durbin

To: Riflema

Trumpeters ever holding on to the myth that DJT is some sort of wunderknabe, rather than the socialist tyrant in waiting he really is ... and I dislike all the other losers in both parties.

Very sad the country finds itself in the dire straits it has entered. Glad I’m as old as I am, seeing US politics come to the sad state it has fallen into by way of an electorate that is more interested in entertainment than civics, and now unable to tell anything about anyone unless they are told what to look for - usually by way of the politician’s own rhetoric and wishful thinking.

6 posted on 02/11/2016 2:09:45 PM PST by PIF (They came for me and mine ... now it is your turn ...)

To: Durbin

Sorry, I think you missed my point. Their “average” is wrong. That’s the point.

7 posted on 02/11/2016 2:11:22 PM PST by Riflema

To: Riflema

Yeah. It’s an average of polls.

If you want to do more in-depth statistical analysis of the polling data, feel free. But it’s a nice quick view at an average and a good place to find quick links to all of the major polling.

8 posted on 02/11/2016 2:13:35 PM PST by Anitius Severinus Boethius (www.wilsonharpbooks.com - Sign up for my new release e-mail and get my first novel for free)

To: Riflema

Double posting does not increase post accuracy.

9 posted on 02/11/2016 2:16:14 PM PST by outofsalt ( If history teaches us anything it's that history rarely teaches us anything.)

To: Riflema

“Sorry, I think you missed my point. Their â€œaverageâ€ is wrong. Thatâ€™s the point.”

30+15=45
45/2=22.5

Looks like the average is right to me.

10 posted on 02/11/2016 2:16:37 PM PST by Durbin

To: Riflema

Thanks for taking the time to lay it out. I’ve known it, just being the type whose motto is “In God we trust, everyone else bring facts and data and be prepared to defend it”. ;-)

To be honest, I’m not sure some polls are anything but smoke and mirrors BS intended to influence public opinion. All it takes is a fancy-sounding credible name to be in the polling business, right? So what’s to stop “Free Republic/University of Hardknocks Polling” from announcing the results of their latest polls without doing anything more than put the desired numbers into a press release? Nobody vets anything nowadays, and I’ll bet you it would get picked up and publicized by organizations who liked the numbers.

But blatant phonyfacting aside, political polls are always a good reminder of Mark Twain’s famous saying....

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lies,_damned_lies,_and_statistics

11 posted on 02/11/2016 2:19:20 PM PST by bigbob ("Victorious warriors win first and then go to war" Sun Tzu.)

To: Riflema

Are you claiming that there is inaccurate information on the internet?

12 posted on 02/11/2016 2:20:14 PM PST by proudpapa (trusTed!)

To: Riflema

RCP doesn’t poll, the “RCP Averages” poll is just an average of available polls that are taken out there either from independent firms or the media elite.

13 posted on 02/11/2016 2:21:16 PM PST by BigSkyFreeper (You have entered an invalid birthday)

To: Riflema

Given that the individual polls may all have a distinctively different methodologies, it makes more sense treating each as a individual data point rather than do a weighted average as you suggest.

That 1000 sample poll maybe have been done by a very poor sampling technique, and the 300 sample poll may have a superb sampling technique and is actually much more accurate. If you just do a weighted average you let the much poorer sampled poll dominate the result over the much better sampled poll.

14 posted on 02/11/2016 2:25:37 PM PST by Truthsearcher

To: outofsalt

Agree. The UI leaves a little to be desired.

15 posted on 02/11/2016 2:30:27 PM PST by Riflema

To: Riflema

I think it is run by the Quisling Hugh Hewitt.

16 posted on 02/11/2016 2:43:49 PM PST by eyeamok

To: Riflema

I encourage everyone to lie to pollsters.

17 posted on 02/11/2016 2:44:16 PM PST by outofsalt ( If history teaches us anything it's that history rarely teaches us anything.)

To: Riflema

While on a strictly mathematical scale that holds water... however

For RCP to perform simple weighted averaging would also fly in the face of statiscal anlysis theory.

To go deeper on only one level is improper. They would need to do whole scale secondary analysis to compensate for adjusted MOE, modeling, and assignment of confidence category.

Its not intended to be a holistic reanalysis. It’s a snapshot. No need to make a mountain out of a molehill IMO.

18 posted on 02/11/2016 2:46:04 PM PST by BlueNgold (May I suggest a very nice 1788 Article V with your supper...)

To: LS; Riflema

There would have to be wide variance in both sample size and percentage to make a significant difference.

The weighted average for Trump’s RCP Average (29.5%) shown in the article is:

(.31*507)+(.31*725)+(.25*531)+(.31*395) = 637.12

507+725+531+395 = 2158

637.12 / 2158 = 0.29523633 = 29.5% rounded

RCP could be using weighted averaging. One would have to find an example with wide variances to verify.

19 posted on 02/11/2016 2:48:33 PM PST by Quicksilver (I'll vote for anyone that can truly Make America Great Again!)

To: Riflema

Never made much sense to me - doesn’t take into account what the current trend is.....

20 posted on 02/11/2016 4:22:59 PM PST by Intolerant in NJ