26 September 2008

Like crack for politics geeks

FiveThirtyEight.com has taken up a lot of my internet-surfing time since On the Media interviewed its founder, Nate Silver. FiveThirtyEight (which takes its name from the number of votes in the US electoral college) takes a new approach to poll-crunching, using simulated election results drawn from current polling to develop what looks like (to my not-very-statistically-savvy) a Bayesian estimation of the electoral votes for Barack Obama.

The nuts and bolts of the simulation model aren't completely exposed in the FAQ, but it apparently takes into account the past accuracy and biases of each poll used, as well as demographic similarities between states. There's lots of data on display, including the probability distribution of possible electoral outcomes - which currently projects an Obama victory in 72.4% of simulations.

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