The political calculator


A thinking person's use for a calculator in the real world:

With all of the political opinion polls coming out, an amusing use of your calculator is to look at the actual poll results for a section called 'cross tabs'. This shows each question and the % of each category which responded each way, such as Agree / Disagree / Undecided for each of Democrat / Republican / Independent.

Using the calculator's matrix functions, you often can solve and find out how many of each category exist, for each question. A good poll would presumably have almost exactly the same ratios for each question, presuming that nobody changed parties between questions and that almost everyone answered each question, and such polls do exist and publicize all of their results.

Actual results in other polls, though, can be all over the place. Negative numbers of Independents, a gross weighting of only one party polled, or random ratios from question to question implying a total fabrication of the results with no thought for internal consistency. These things have made it to the front pages of major newspapers.

Some just don't publish the detailed results.

Edited: 27 Aug 2012, 12:44 a.m.


Those 'analysts' should be forced to calculate and publish the standard errors of their results - and print the error bars in their color graphs. IMHO this would automatically reduce the number of published results significantly ;-)


I hate to ask, because it feels like I'm asking someone to do my homework, but could you give us an example of what this would look like? I'm interested in the subject and would like to see it applied, even if it's a simple example.


Possibly Related Threads...
Thread Author Replies Views Last Post
  RPN as political metaphor Frank Wales 3 782 04-11-2006, 05:03 PM
Last Post: blurdybloop

Forum Jump: