Wednesday, October 01, 2008

WSJ Statistical Bait and Switch

The Wall Street Journal ran a piece today about how the young folks are excited about Obama, but might not actually vote for him. The piece is based on a poll by conducted by the Wall Street Journal, NBC News and MySpace. Two interesting things about how the poll results are spun. First the lede:

This year's flood of newly registered voters heavily favor Sen. Barack Obama in the presidential contest, but they won't necessarily show up to support him on Election Day, a new survey indicates.
OK, so what's the evidence that new voters won't support Obama on election day?

The first bit of evidence comes from , a completely different poll asking a completely different question:

When asked to rank their interest in the Nov. 4 election, just 49% said they were "very interested." By comparison, 70% of voters of all age groups said they were "very interested," according to a separate Journal/NBC News national poll taken a week ago.
It's not obvious that disinterest in the election translates to not voting.

Second, the actual poll that they are talking aboutreports that
54% of the new voters said they would definitely vote Nov. 4.
That does seem low. And would be cause for alarm, if it were close to true.

But, WSJ does something stoopid--they link to the actual poll results! Here we find, that it's really 84% of responders that are likely to vote on November 4th.
Using a ten-point scale, please tell me how likely you are to vote in the November fourth elections for president and Congress. If you are certain that you will vote, pick a number closer to "eight," "nine," or "ten." If it is less likely that you will vote, use a number closer to "one," "two," or "three." You may choose any number from one to ten.

10, definitely vote 54 [142-143]
9 17
8 13
7 4
6 2
5 4
4 -
3 1
2 2
1, definitely NOT vote 3
Not sure -
Sure, if you only look at the people who responded with a 10, then it's 54%. But the instructions put the cutoff at 8. If you count 8 through 10, it's 84%!

When the poll results weren't interesting enough, the WSJ simply distracted us with the answer to a different question and then cherry-picked the data they were going to show us. Don't be too worried about first time voters showing up on the 4th.


parsnipgirl said...

Nice one.I

sexyurdu said...
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