In Reporting Polls, Please …

… always consider the sampling error when you report the difference between successive polls.

News organizations have been getting some better, in my subjective view, in noting when a result is within the sampling error in a particular poll, but they still report increases or decreases in a lead without that note. If a candidate moves from 46% to 48% in successive polls where the margin is +/-4%, that is not a statistically significant change. If multiple polls show results that are all within their various sampling errors, the polls are not scattered all over the map or giving a different story.

I also wish new stories would define the various terms they use to modify “lead” or “trail.” One has no idea from the headline just what has happened.

OK, that’s my whining for the moment. 🙂

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