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Our Readers Get A Turn

We’ve talked about the most recent poll data, including the state-by-state Zogby polls which showed results generally interpreted as favorable to John Kerry. Dafydd ab Hugh, who has done an in-depth analysis of Zogby’s history, gets the last word. Dafydd quotes Zogby’s own description of the methodology underlying his “interactive” online state polls, and continues:

[N]ote two things: first, these are very small numbers of people with very high MOEs; of the sixteen polls, eleven of them show “leads” within the margin (which means no lead at all). Also, it wouldn’t take much of a bias — in favor of people who spend a lot of time on the Internet and who are willing to go online and take a poll, for example, which bias Zogby does not weight for or indeed even acknowledge — to skew these polls in favor of the perceived “post-modernist,” “high tech” party, regardless of nominal party affilliation.
Also, as usual, when the pollster weights in favor of such factors as “region, party, age, race, religion and gender,” he is actually expressing his own opinion as to the likelihood of each category to show up and vote. Thus, he has to assume that X % of Democrats and Y % of Republicans will show up and vote… but where does he get these numbers? Usually, he looks at the last presidential and mid-term election, then changes the numbers according to some ideas he has about who is more “energized.” Since the news has been full of how much more energized the Democrats are and how depressed and enervated Republicans are — with little or no evidence to support the claims — it’s highly likely that Zogby used a model that assumed higher Democratic turnout and lower Republican turnout than will actually occur.

Dafydd notes further that Zogby badly miscalled the results in Florida, Missouri and California in 2000 (in the latter case, grossly overestimating Bush’s competitiveness). He concludes:

The problem is that Zogby’s methodology is a failure; his polls are unpredictably off, both in numbers and even sometimes in who is ahead…. Basically, Zogby is unreliable. His polling method is simply unrepresentative — and unpredictably unrepresentative. He is a “known unknown,” to use Rumsfeld’s lexicon.

Reader Dawna Reandeau anticipated Deacon’s deconstruction of Dana Milbank’s latest outrage, but in somewhat more colorful language:

I’ve been watching this jerk write for the last two years, and it’s the same BS day in and day out. Here’s his latest:
[Milbank writes]: “Scholars and political strategists say the ferocious Bush assault on Kerry this spring has been extraordinary, both for the volume of attacks and for the liberties the president and his campaign have taken with the facts. Though stretching the truth is hardly new in a political campaign, they say the volume of negative charges is unprecedented — both in speeches and in advertising.”
What scholars? What political strategists? Can we say, “Democrats”? How does this pathetic excuse for a journalist get away with this endless Bush attack ON THE NEWS PAGE? And the irony of it all is, he’s going after Bush for taking liberties with facts. He’s an over-paid, under-talented fish-wrap hack, and he’s not going to make a lick of difference in the campaign. But he still p***** me off to no end. The Washington Post should be condemned for allowing this jerk to have a job. He belongs on Air America.

A number of readers have expressed appreciation of our Miss Universe coverage; Mark Hessey voiced a preference for Miss Estonia. Well, there are many fine contestants.
Given how smart our readers are, it is understandable that Jeff Brokaw wonders, “Why don’t you have comments?” Many people have asked the same question. There are several reasons. The first is that we are all control freaks, and we made a basic decision in the beginning that we want all of the content on the site to be ours. Also, while comments can be insightful, my observation is that on most sites they deteriorate into a repetitive, “so’s your old man” style very quickly. And finally, we would feel an obligation to monitor the comments to ensure reasonable standards of decorum, and we think the time is better spent working on new content. And, of course, our day jobs.
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