DavidMRothschild on October 15, 2012 @ 6:39PM
Xbox, in conjunction with the polling company YouGov, has launched a new poll for this election cycle. The goal of the poll is threefold. First, Xbox wants to create an engaging product for its users. Second, the polling team wants to be able to provide meaningful insight into the 2012 election. Third, both Xbox and YouGov recognize the research angle of this work; this poll is the product of cutting-edge interactive television and polling techniques that, while not supplanting the established methods today, will be instrumental in both entertainment and information gathering in the future.
In the interest of full disclosure, as a member of Microsoft Research in New York City, I am the head pollster on the Xbox side of this team.
There are two connected polling operations: the daily poll and the live event polling. First, every day on Xbox Live's election channel there is a new poll that asks between three and five questions. New users answer a slate of standard background questions the first time they enter. Every day the poll asks the standard voter intention question and then groups the remaining questions into daily themes: economy, social issues, etc. Second, Xbox is streaming the pool feed for all four debates and asks question on the bottom of the screen periodically to their users during the debate. A few baseline questions at the beginning are followed by a stream of questions reacting to the segments. In both polling settings respondents self-select into the polls.
Above is an example of the live event polling on the Xbox Live from Thursday's VP debate. Click on the image to watch the video!
Respondents are enjoying the experience; they are using it in droves and coming back. First, over 20,000 unique respondents per day are answering the daily polls and there were over 30,000 unique respondents answering each question during Thursday's VP debate. Second, Xbox is getting very high repeat engagement with upwards of 20 percent of users taking the daily poll any given day having already taken a daily poll in the past. And, the engagement levels during the debates have been at least a magnitude larger than standard engagement for web-based polling.
After Thursday night's VP debate Xbox was able to release timely and meaningful data on the reactions from their viewers. The sheer quantity of the respondents answering each question provides us with a very meaningful number of undecided and leaning respondents. Biden dominated Ryan in all of our top-line questions; undecided registered voters thought he won the debate, was more truthful and more capable of being president. Similarly, respondents leaning toward Obama were more overwhelming for Biden in all three questions than respondents leaning toward Romney were for Ryan. We have no prior reason to believe that the undecided voters in our poll behave too differently from average undecided voters, but since this a self-selected non-representative sample, further research is ongoing. Yet, parsing the data by both age and gender, we saw perfectly consistent results.
Above is a snippet of results from Thursday night's Xbox Live/YouGov poll. Approximately 30,000 Xbox Live users responded to each question posed during the debate on 10/11/12. The survey was designed and analyzed by YouGov.
Expect a regular, meaningful stream of results from the Xbox Live/YouGov poll between now and Election Day. Harnessing both the large sample sizes and repeated respondents, we are busy learning about our repeated users from our unbalanced panel that have switched over the last few weeks. We are also exploring the value of randomly generated subsamples of daily respondents. While, we embrace the oversampling we have hard to get demographics, like 18-29 males and young families.
While I am happy to help create a fun and meaningful product for 2012, what really excites me about this poll is the research and potential of this technology. I am huge believer in the value of the probability based scientific polling and I use the aggregated totals from HuffPost's Pollster as a key ingredient in my real-time forecast of the 2012 election. But, my job is to engage in academic, peer-reviewed style research that pushes the boundaries of information aggregation.
One of those boundaries is to see how far we can increase the value of information supplied in polls of self-selecting and non-representative respondents. We hope that by gathering massive amounts of respondents and having repeated responses by many, we will be able to overcome some of the statistical biases inherent in our sample. We are experimenting with new weighting, new debiasing methods, new questions, and new interactive interfaces. We recognize the limits and embrace the advantages: quickly updating questions, massive coverage, and cost-effective respondents.
So many people today watch TV with a second screen around and we are giving them something fun, related, and meaningful to do with extra energy; we have enacted the promise that is interactive television with the hope that it will lead us towards the future of information aggregation.
If you have an Xbox, watch live during Tuesday's debate. Either way, I look forward to updating you on the results.
This article is syndicated on the Huffington Post.
The Senate is the Democrats’ to lose as five more states shift (Originally posted on Yahoo!'s "The Signal" Blog)
DavidMRothschild on October 15, 2012 @ 2:07PM
The Democrats currently control 53 of 100 seats in the Senate. Nearly half of those—23—are up for re-election this year, while the Republicans are defending only 10 seats. That fact, combined with an electorate none too pleased with incumbents, made for a grim picture for the majority party at the start of this cycle.
And yet, the Democrats now have a 75 percent likelihood of controlling the next Senate, possibly by a comfortable margin.
In early September, we saw four critical races shifted to the Democratic column: Missouri, Wisconsin, Massachusetts and Virginia. Today, the Democrat is up in all four races, though three of the four remain competitive. Now, we're seeing five other races once considered safe for the Republican showing signs of equivocation: Nevada, North Dakota, Indiana, Arizona and Montana.
Romney chips away at Obama’s lead, but electoral math still favors president (Originally posted on Yahoo!'s "The Signal" Blog)
DavidMRothschild on October 10, 2012 @ 6:05PM
Both campaigns declared victory in last night's debate between Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan, with Democrats focusing on Biden's passion and Republicans focusing on Biden's aggression. Neither acknowledged that it is a futile point.
Immediate polls from CBS, NBC, and Xbox Live all reported that a majority of undecided voters believed Biden won, and the prediction markets ticked up a few points in President Barack Obama's favor in the hours after the confrontation. Yet, everyone was missing the point. The question pollsters should have asked was this: Is Obama still bleeding?
DavidMRothschild on October 04, 2012 @ 1:23AM
Debates have a reach beyond the immediate bump or slide in the polls as they seep into the narrative and offer up ammunition for campaign commercials. With nearly two full weeks until the next presidential debate, the results of this one have a long time to hang around. Romney's solid performance can lead to new donations that, in turn, lead to better poll numbers in the following weeks.
In this way, debates are the opposite of conventions, in which we advise you to ignore the bump in the polls since they inevitably fade. After debates, we advise you to ignore the non-bump in the polls, because it may grow.
Our prediction moved in Romney's favor because, with the wind in his sails, he is slightly more likely to be able to close the 4.5 percentage point gap in the polls over the next few weeks. That remains, so to speak, an uphill sail..
Academics love models, but their window of opportunity has passed (Originally posted on Yahoo!'s "The Signal" Blog)
DavidMRothschild on October 03, 2012 @ 10:24AM
In case the new issue of PS: Political Science and Politics is still on your junk mail table, here's a primer on the journal's recent publication of 13 distinct predictions of the 2012 election: Five academics predict an Obama victory, five predict a Romney victory, and three say it's too close to call.
And here's a prediction I feel good about: Five of them will be correct.
All 13 of the predictions in this peer-reviewed journal are the product of fundamental models, which examine broad historical trends that influence elections rather than simply aggregating polls and prediction markets. Some of the models use polls as a guidance, but the focus is on information like economic indicators, incumbency, past election results, the state of war, and other lofty data points divorced from public opinion surveys.
I wholly endorse the idea of academics working alongside journalists in the popular election prediction industry—obviously—but PS looks silly publishing these forecasts at the end of September. Models are useful in painting a broad electoral picture six months ahead of time, before public opinion has coalesced. They typically cannot account for the narrow margins of victory that shake out weeks or days before polls open. Relying on fundamental models in October is like relying on pre-season baseball predictions in October. I would look stupid—or at least delusional in my fandom—if I forecasted the Philadelphia Phillies winning the National League East today, when they are eliminated from the running, even though they were pre-season favorites.