Monday, October 13, 2008

Statistics and trends

I've taken to following as many of the daily polls and statistics tracking the upcoming election as I can. My cousin recommended the site to my parents, who passed it along to me. It's hard to argue with cold mathematical prediction models or to skew them to your liking. The only thing you can affect is the questions asked, and with the slew of polls they track that noise is hopefully canceled out. I recommend taking a look if you don't feel you're getting your daily dose of campaign updates already. From their FAQ, here's a bit on their goal as a site:

What is the mission of this website? Most broadly, to accumulate and analyze polling and political data in way that is informed, accurate and attractive. Most narrowly, to give you the best possible objective assessment of the likely outcome of upcoming elections.

For the other end of the objectivity spectrum, there's the Washington Post, as discussed by Chris Bowers in his post "A 2.2% McCain lead is greater than a 13.8% Obama Lead."

I also took a look at the latest ABC/Post polling data and was intrigued by one of the results they called out:

                              Vote preference 
among likely voters
More important Obama McCain
Positions on issues (49%) 68% 29
Personal qualities (39%) 34 61

As one of the 49% of folks who is more interested in the candidates' positions on the issues they'll face as leader of the free world, I may admittedly be a little bit biased here. However, it does strike me as telling that those who are more interested in the candidates' positions are overwhelmingly Obama supporters. We've already had one president that folks would like to have a beer with, and his approval rating is now lower than Richard Nixon's worst (also from the ABC/Post poll).

True, a president must be an able diplomat with foreign leaders, but only 2% of those polled said that foreign policy was the most important issue in choosing a president. True, a president needs to be able to broker deals with both house of congress, but Obama holds an edge as a "stronger leader", 54% to 40%. What personal qualities are those polled considering? I don't see the raw data for the question in the report broken down by candidate, so it's difficult to glean any more data here. If you have any insight, please do let me know!

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