REGISTER   |   LOGIN   |   HELP
Home  |  Blogs  |  Message Boards  |  Webinars  |  Resources |  By Channel
John Barnes

The Landslide That Wasn't: A Lesson in Distributions

NO RATINGS
1 saves
View Comments: Newest First | Oldest First | Threaded View
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
John Barnes
User Rank
Blogger
Re: one more thing
John Barnes   11/20/2012 9:09:25 AM
NO RATINGS
Louis, I'd say they saw the ground but not the implications. Kind of like recognizing that "well it's a high scoring game, we are only down by a touchdown and a field goal, and there is still five minutes on the clock" but then not getting to the conclusion "we have to play it out but we are almost certain to lose." Not so much ignoring the facts -- the polls were very accurate this time -- but refusing to see what the facts meant, and instead insisting on just repeating whichever facts made you happiest.

Louis Watson
User Rank
Blogger
Re: one more thing
Louis Watson   11/20/2012 1:47:42 AM
NO RATINGS
I see what you are saying John, so is it safe to say republican pollsters simply did not understand what the underlying meaning of the distribution was in reality ?   And if this was the case, how can seasoned campaign managers make such a colossal blunder ?  Objectivity lost to partisan politics ?   Well, of course it was.

But I think it goes to what you and @rbaz were discussing earlier in this thread, the fact that the media has skew reality to such a degree, couple that with a Media pool that is at best passive and non-confrontational  produces outcomes  such as this past election.  Am I the only one who thought this (the election) was over by half-time ?   

I have always held a heathly disdain for polls (especially national elections) because they tend to repeat themselves in flow ( meaning regardless of all the other polls before the one just before voting will most often be deemed a "close race").   I have yet to see one in my lifetime where this pattern veered too far from this formula, which is a major reason I have no use for polls. As far as I am concerned yet again Polls and Polling  did not reflect what is really going on " on the ground'.

I just can't believe this simple fact was missed by many so called experts. 

John Barnes
User Rank
Blogger
Re: one more thing
John Barnes   11/20/2012 1:01:17 AM
NO RATINGS
Louis, well, if you understand the thing being represented, that's a pretty good guard against many kinds of folly. And my purpose here is not to teach people how to do the math. There isn't space, time, or interest for that here. The idea is more to get people comfortable with asking for the math and having an idea of what it says when they get it. Kind of like the wine columnist doesn't teach you how to make wine, but what to order when and what to look for.

John Barnes
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Vote 2012 and the Inquisition that failed
John Barnes   11/20/2012 12:54:17 AM
NO RATINGS
Lyndon, I think Krugman did a pretty solid job of explaining too. Another way to look at distributions is to think of them as functions that convert local and specific margins into overall probabilities. But a key point not to be lost is that distributions also apply to forecasting markets, liability, crime, war, sports, any large scale wide participation human activity. I guarantee that someone who is chuckling "silly Republicans" right now will make the same mathematical error themselves within a day. (I hope to reduce the number but I don't think it can be eliminated).

Louis Watson
User Rank
Blogger
Re: one more thing
Louis Watson   11/19/2012 11:26:23 PM
NO RATINGS
Thanks John for explaining in part what happen to republican pollsters with regard to understanding or the lack thereof with respect to distributions.  The method of analysis seems easy enough however many make this kind of mistake whenever this tool is in use.  

I am not sure I understand it completely either,  but I take pride in practicing your 5th tip - Knowing the ground.  This alone can make up for numerous statistical shortcomings IMO.

Lyndon_Henry
User Rank
Blogger
Vote 2012 and the Inquisition that failed
Lyndon_Henry   11/19/2012 10:22:26 PM
NO RATINGS
..

John Barnes writes


Wishful thinking was only a minor factor in the massive, obvious, embarrassing error by conservative pundits who predicted that the 2012 presidential election would be a dead heat or even a Mitt Romney landslide. A profound misunderstanding of statistical distributions caused the humiliation of so many conservative bloggers, journalists, and campaign managers.


 

 

In a sense, the profound failure of GOP election prediction reflects a case of getting caught by their own petard.  Carl Rove's vehement disbelief, witnessed by millions on live TV when Fox News analysts called Ohio for Obama, is iconic, and it seems to reflect a situation of believing the fantasies in the whacko reality you have constructed and led others into.

In another sense, the GOP prediction failure represents a failure of a kind of a 21st-century Inquisition.  The GOP targeted venomous anger against both polls and analysts who dared to use math objectively and read the results that suggested a rather solid Obama victory.  This level of disbelief and rejection of science (math) reminds me of the pressure brought to bear on Galileo, forcing him to deny what his own scientific research and observations were telling him.  Fortunately, for this election, the rightwing Inquisition simply fizzled.

Nate Silver of the NYT's 538 blog, a platform mainly for the presentation of the results of his own political analytics, has been widely hailed for the accuracy of his math-based predictions.  For example, see:

Nate Silver Takes A Victory Lap After Obama Re-election

Here are some interesting quotes:


Silver came through with flying colors, as Obama performed nearly exactly the way he said he would. The public recognition was immediate.

"You know who won the election tonight? Nate Silver," Rachel Maddow said on MSNBC. Even Fox News tipped its cap to Silver.

Others said that the results could force a bit of a sea change in political journalism.

"What does this victory mean?" Mashable's Chris Taylor wrote. "That mathematical models can no longer be derided by "gut-feeling" pundits. That Silver's contention -- TV pundits are generally no more accurate than a coin toss -- must now be given wider credence."


 

Silver, of course, became a particularly hated target of the rightwing anti-science blitz that attempted to portray some kind of mysterious Romney "surge" till the bitter end.

Economist and NYT columnist Paul Krugman discussed much of this (somewhat along the lines of John Barnes's explanation) in a Nov. 4th blog entry:

Math Is Hard

Some of Krugman's interesting points:


First of all, from what I can see a lot of people have trouble with the distinction between probabilities and vote margins. ...

Second, people clearly have a problem with randomness — with the fact that any poll, no matter how carefully conducted, has a margin of error. (And the true margins of error are surely larger than the statistical measure always reported, since sampling error isn't the only way a poll can go wrong). ...

What this means is that if you look at all the polls, you're very likely to find one or two that tell you what you want to hear... even good pollsters will produce an occasional off result, and you really, really don't want to start picking and choosing those off results to make yourself feel good.

...Oh, and a third point: those margins of error are for any one poll. An average of many polls will have a much smaller standard error.


 

 

Callmebob
User Rank
Master Analyst
Back to school.
Callmebob   11/19/2012 3:09:27 PM
NO RATINGS
Thanks for the lesson, Professor Barnes! Probably the only ones at the Romney victory party were hermaphrodites that skew Normalia.

SethBreedlove
User Rank
Data Doctor
Re: one more thing
SethBreedlove   11/17/2012 9:26:40 PM
NO RATINGS
I like that saying. :)   

John Barnes
User Rank
Blogger
Re: one more thing
John Barnes   11/17/2012 9:07:20 PM
NO RATINGS
Seth, accuracy wasn't really an issue here; it's just that when you have successive close-numbers events and one side needs fewer wins than the other, the side that needs fewer wins has a massive advantage. As the IRA communicated to the Queen after a failed assassination attempt, "You have to be lucky every time. We only have to be lucky once."

SethBreedlove
User Rank
Data Doctor
Re: one more thing
SethBreedlove   11/17/2012 7:25:46 PM
NO RATINGS
I saw the articles explaining an 80% chance of winning.  It always amazes me how just a couple of percentage points here and there can cause major events to go in one direction. One state polls may have a large margin of error, but the margin of error is much reduced, however, when you aggregate different polls together, since that creates a much larger sample size.

Page 1 / 2   >   >>
More Blogs from John Barnes
Analysts would do well to get out of the rut of using linear regressions by default.
Sometimes your results require accuracy and sometimes precision. Knowing the difference matters.
Rule-based behavior models offer a good alternative to guesswork and folk wisdom.
Keeping these three words, often jumbled in business discourse, separate and precise can help you be a better decision maker.
Always keep in mind that regression to the means happens — and watch those outliers.
Cartoon
Most recent post: Viewer beware!
CARTOON ARCHIVE
AllAnalytics House Ad
Quick Poll
AllAnalytics Video Blogs
We'll Be Your Eyes & Ears
We'll be on the scene at SAS Global Forum events in ...

2:15

0 comments
7 Tips for Deploying ...
We chat with Analise Polsky, a data visualization ...

33:15

0 comments
Top Big Data Platforms
All Analytics editors Beth Schultz and Michael ...

31:53

3 comments
Attention on Retail Shoppers
The retail store of the future will track customers ...

02:14

16 comments
Demand-Driven Forecasting
Charles Chase, chief industry consultant for the ...

02:22

1 comment
Intelligent Labels & LE ...
Andrew Dark, CEO of Displaydata, explains the ...

03:21

0 comments
Big-Data & In-Store Analytics
SAS Institute's Lori Schafer shares insights on ...

02:31

5 comments
Privacy Protection in 7 Steps
Gaurav Pant, SVP of Research and Principal Analyst ...

03:05

1 comment
Customer Insight Drives Retail
Lori Bieda, executive lead for customer ...

02:13

13 comments
NRF BIG Show Highlights
All Analytics Executive Editor Michael Steinhart ...

02:51

7 comments
Nurturing Analytics Talent
Sarah Gates, vice president of research for the ...

02:25

4 comments
Banking on Analytics
Capgemini Senior Manager Rex Pruitt explains how ...

02:39

1 comment
360-Degree Slam Dunk
Analytics helps the Orlando Magic score higher ...

01:50

3 comments
Securing Hadoop Data
Big data often contains sensitive or protected ...

06:20

5 comments
Powerful Analytics Ecosystems
Combining Hadoop with high-performance ...

02:04

1 comment
Digital Audio
Latest Archived Broadcast
Thought-leader Tom Davenport explains why you and your company need to recognize big data's importance.
April 29th 2pm EDT Tuesday
Readerboards
Have a question or topic but don't want to write a blog? Post it on our readerboards and get feedback from the community!
MORE READERBOARDS
Live Video
On-demand Video with Chat
As retailers evolve toward an omnichannel environment, much of their success will depend on how effectively they use big-data and analytics.
Upcoming Events
for the Business and IT Communities
Executive forums with additional hands-on learning opportunities offered around the world
Each ideal for practitioners, Business leaders & senior executives
SAS Health Analytics Virtual Conference
The Health care is rapidly transforming. And there has never been a greater need for analytics. We're tackling tough challenges like data transparency, care delivery, consumer engagement, and financial and clinical risk. And there are still numerous opportunities to use health data that we haven't even tapped into.
May 14, 2014
2014 VA Interactive Roadshow -- Houston
The 2014 VA Interactive Roadshow will feature SASŪ Data Management and SASŪ Visual Analytics experts covering topics like prepping data for VA and VA integration with SASŪ Office Analytics. This year's events will keep presentations at a minimum and focus on giving attendees hands-on exposure to the latest version of VA.
May 15, 2014
Houston, Texas
2014 VA Interactive Roadshow -- New York
The 2014 VA Interactive Roadshow will feature SASŪ Data Management and SASŪ Visual Analytics experts covering topics like prepping data for VA and VA integration with SASŪ Office Analytics. This year's events will keep presentations at a minimum and focus on giving attendees hands-on exposure to the latest version of VA.
June 19, 2014
New York, New York
2014 VA Interactive Roadshow -- Rockville, MD
The 2014 VA Interactive Roadshow will feature SASŪ Data Management and SASŪ Visual Analytics experts covering topics like prepping data for VA and VA integration with SASŪ Office Analytics. This year's events will keep presentations at a minimum and focus on giving attendees hands-on exposure to the latest version of VA.
July 17, 2014
Rockville, Maryland
2014 VA Interactive Roadshow -- Detroit
The 2014 VA Interactive Roadshow will feature SASŪ Data Management and SASŪ Visual Analytics experts covering topics like prepping data for VA and VA integration with SASŪ Office Analytics. This year's events will keep presentations at a minimum and focus on giving attendees hands-on exposure to the latest version of VA.
Aug. 7, 2014
Detroit, Michigan
2014 VA Interactive Roadshow -- Chicago
The 2014 VA Interactive Roadshow will feature SASŪ Data Management and SASŪ Visual Analytics experts covering topics like prepping data for VA and VA integration with SASŪ Office Analytics. This year's events will keep presentations at a minimum and focus on giving attendees hands-on exposure to the latest version of VA.
Sept. 16, 2014
Chicago, Illinois
2014 VA Interactive Roadshow -- Cary, NC
The 2014 VA Interactive Roadshow will feature SASŪ Data Management and SASŪ Visual Analytics experts covering topics like prepping data for VA and VA integration with SASŪ Office Analytics. This year's events will keep presentations at a minimum and focus on giving attendees hands-on exposure to the latest version of VA.
Oct. 10, 2014
Cary, North Carolina
2014 VA Interactive Roadshow -- Boston
The 2014 VA Interactive Roadshow will feature SASŪ Data Management and SASŪ Visual Analytics experts covering topics like prepping data for VA and VA integration with SASŪ Office Analytics. This year's events will keep presentations at a minimum and focus on giving attendees hands-on exposure to the latest version of VA.
Nov. 4, 2014
Boston, Massachusetts
2014 VA Interactive Roadshow -- Atlanta
The 2014 VA Interactive Roadshow will feature SASŪ Data Management and SASŪ Visual Analytics experts covering topics like prepping data for VA and VA integration with SASŪ Office Analytics. This year's events will keep presentations at a minimum and focus on giving attendees hands-on exposure to the latest version of VA.
Dec. 11, 2014
Atlanta, Georgia
Analytics 2014
The The Analytics 2014 Conference is a two-day educational event for anyone who is serious about analytics. This annual event brings together hundreds of professionals, industry experts, and leading researchers in the field of analytics. Register before April 30 for the early-bird discount.
June 4 & 5, 2014
Frankfurt, Germany
AllAnalytics on Twitter
AllAnalytics Twitter Feed
AllAnalytics Videos
Intro to Visual Analytics
Find a way to visualize your data and watch it come ...

1:58

0 comments
Visual Analytics, Instant ...
Analytics results delivered in visual form are ...

2:06

2 comments
Big Data, Fast Infrastructure
Big data calls for a high-performance analytics ...

3:35

6 comments
Red Hot Analytics
Jayson Tipp, Redbox VP of Analytics and CRM, ...

3:51

5 comments
Hotelier Checks Out Analytics
InterContinental Hotels Group has woven analytics ...

06:55

11 comments
Like Us on Facebook
Point/CounterpointBlog
LEADERS FROM THE BUSINESS AND IT COMMUNITIES DUEL OVER CRITICAL TECHNOLOGY ISSUES

The Current Discussion

Visual Analytics: Who Carries the Onus?
The Issue: Data visualization is an up-and-coming technology for businesses that want to deliver analytical results in a visual way, enabling analysts the ability to spot patterns more easily and business users to absorb the insight at a glance and better understand what questions to ask of the data. But does it make more sense to train everybody to handle the visualization mandate or bring on visualization expertise? Our experts are divided on the question.
The Speakers: Hyoun Park, Principal Analyst, Nucleus Research; Jonathan Schwabish, US Economist & Data Visualizer
MORE POINT/COUNTERPOINT BLOGS
About Us  |  Contact Us  |  Help  |  Register  |  Twitter  |  Facebook  |  RSS


Beth Schultz
We'll Be Your Eyes & Ears

3|20|14   |   2:15   |   (0) comments


We'll be on the scene at SAS Global Forum events in Washington, D.C., March 23 to March 25, glad to share what we learn with our community members.
Beth Schultz
7 Tips for Deploying Visualization

3|7|14   |   33:15   |   (0) comments


We chat with Analise Polsky, a data visualization thought leader on the SAS Best Practices team, about what you need to know before you deploy data visualization.
Michael Steinhart
Choosing a Big-Data Analytics Platform

2|19|14   |   31:53   |   (3) comments


The big-data analytics market can be a confusing place. Among the vendors vying for your dollars are traditional database management providers, Hadoop startup services, and IT giants. In this video, All Analytics editors Beth Schultz and Michael Steinhart sit down in a Google+ Hangout on Air with Doug Henschen, executive editor of InformationWeek. Henschen discusses use cases for big-data analytics, purchase considerations, and his recent roundup of the top 16 big-data analytics platforms.

Related posts:

— Michael Steinhart, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn pageFriend me on Facebook, Executive Editor, AllAnalytics.com

Michael Steinhart
Keeping a Close Eye on Shoppers

2|13|14   |   02:14   |   (16) comments


At the National Retail Federation BIG Show last month, All Analytics executive editor Michael Steinhart noted a host of solutions for tracking and analyzing customer activity in retail stores. From Bluetooth beacons to RFID tags to NFC connections to video analytics, retailers must find the right combination of tools to help optimize the shopper experience, streamline operations, and boost revenues.

Related posts:

— Michael Steinhart, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn pageFriend me on Facebook, Executive Editor, AllAnalytics.com

Michael Steinhart
Real-Time Demand Drives Forecasting

2|11|14   |   02:22   |   (1) comment


The days when historical shipment trends and gut feelings were enough to forecast retail demand accurately are long over. SAS chief industry consultant Charles Chase outlines the benefits of pulling real-time sales information from point-of-sale and product scanner systems, then flowing that data into dynamic forecasting tools from SAS.

— Michael Steinhart, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn pageFriend me on Facebook, Executive Editor, AllAnalytics.com

Michael Steinhart
Next-Gen Retail: Electronic Labels & Bluetooth Beacons

2|7|14   |   03:21   |   (0) comments


Electronic shelf-edge labels (ESLs) equipped with low-energy Bluetooth beacons enable retailers to deliver real-time customer interaction and execute dynamic pricing strategies. Andrew Dark, CEO of Displaydata, outlines the ESL architecture and explains how it integrates with backend management and analytics systems.

Related post:

— Michael Steinhart, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn pageFriend me on Facebook, Executive Editor, AllAnalytics.com

Michael Steinhart
Retail Trends: Big Data Optimizes Sales & Operations

2|4|14   |   02:31   |   (5) comments


Retailers like Family Dollar and suppliers like Procter & Gamble are using big-data analytics to maximize efficiency and revenue across the entire supply chain. Lori Schafer, Executive Advisor for the SAS Institute Retail Practice, moderated a panel with executives from these companies at the National Retail Federation BIG Show in New York last month. Here, she shares insights on retail supply chain optimization and in-store customer tracking for targeted sales.
Michael Steinhart
7 Steps to Protecting Customer Privacy

1|31|14   |   03:05   |   (1) comment


EKN Research's "The Rising Importance of Customer Data Privacy in a SoLoMo Retailing Environment" report details the top challenges and opportunities that retailers face when embracing big data analytics. EKN SVP of Research and Principal Analyst Gaurav Pant explains the importance of data management and lays out seven steps that retailers can take to ensure customer privacy while reaping the benefits of big data.
Michael Steinhart
Integrating Customer Insight Across Retail Channels

1|29|14   |   02:13   |   (13) comments


Customer data is fueling a new phase of retail marketing across physical and online channels. Lori Bieda, executive lead for customer intelligence at SAS Americas, explains how integrated insight enables retailers to optimize offers and improve sales across product categories. She also shares some best-practices for leveraging analytics talent in retail.

— Michael Steinhart, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn pageFriend me on Facebook, Executive Editor, AllAnalytics.com

Michael Steinhart
National Retail Federation Show Highlights

1|27|14   |   02:51   |   (7) comments


This year's National Retail Federation BIG Show wrapped up on January 14. All Analytics executive editor Michael Steinhart reviews highlights of the conference and discusses trends around analytics, personalization, omnichannel, and retail security.

— Michael Steinhart, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn pageFriend me on Facebook, Executive Editor, AllAnalytics.com

Beth Schultz
Nurturing Analytics Talent

1|9|14   |   02:25   |   (4) comments


Sarah Gates, vice president of research for the International Institute for Analytics, shares advice on how to recruit and leverage analytics talent, whether your company is big or small.
Michael Steinhart
Analytics for Banking Regulation Compliance

1|7|14   |   02:39   |   (1) comment


In the wake of 2008's financial meltdown, banks are subject to strict regulations around the soundness of their loan portfolios. Capgemini senior manager Rex Pruitt explains how advanced transition matrices -- driven by SAS analytics tools -- help banks perform effective credit loss forecasting and meet their regulatory requirements.
Michael Steinhart
360-Degree Slam Dunk

12|24|13   |   01:50   |   (3) comments


David Bencs, assistant director of Insight and Analytics for the Orlando Magic, outlines different analytics projects and the benefits they're delivering to the NBA franchise. The team put demand-based pricing in place a few years ago, for example, and single-game ticket revenue grew 28% despite a disappointing season. Next up for the Magic is to combine social media activity, television viewership stats, and ticket sales data to achieve a 360-degree customer view.

— Michael Steinhart, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn pageFriend me on Facebook, Executive Editor, AllAnalytics.com

Michael Steinhart
Encryption for Hadoop & Big Data

12|9|13   |   06:20   |   (5) comments


David Tishgart, senior director of marketing and alliances at security provider Gazzang, explains the importance of data encryption for companies that are rolling out Hadoop environments to leverage big data analytics.
Michael Steinhart
Hadoop's Place in the Analytics Ecosystem

12|5|13   |   02:04   |   (1) comment


At the Strata Conference / Hadoop World 2013, Samuel Kommu, technical marketing engineer at Cisco Systems, shares some of the benefits that Hadoop brings to analytics platforms that leverage next-generation hardware. Kommu looks at big data operations that required 3,500 nodes in 2009, 2,000 in 2011, and now require only 64 nodes.
Videos
Intro to Visual Analytics

6|5|13   |   1:58   |   (0) comments


With today's advanced visual analytics tools, you can stream data into memory for real-time processing, provide users the ability to explore and manipulate the data, and bring your data to life for the business.
Videos
Visual Analytics, Instant Insight

5|16|13   |   2:06   |   (2) comments


Dynamic data visualizations let analysts and business users interact with the data, changing variables or drilling down into data points, and see results in a flash. Advance your use of data visualization with tools that support features like auto-charting, explanatory pop-ups, and mobile sharing.
Videos
Big Data, Fast Infrastructure

2|14|12   |   3:35   |   (6) comments


No doubt your enterprise is amassing loads of data for fact-based decision-making. Hand in hand with all that data comes big computational requirements. Can traditional IT infrastructure handle the increasing number and complexity of your analytical work? Probably not, which is why you need a backend rethink. Big data calls for a high-performance analytics infrastructure, as Fern Halper, a partner at the IT consulting and research firm, Hurwitz & Associates, discusses here.
Videos
Red Hot Analytics

1|10|12   |   3:51   |   (5) comments


Redbox's bright-red DVD kiosks are all but ubiquitous these days, located in more than 28,000 spots across the country. Jayson Tipp, Redbox VP of Analytics and CRM, provides an insider's look at how the company has accomplished its phenomenal nine-year growth.
Videos
Hotelier Checks In With Analytics

12|14|11   |   06:55   |   (11) comments


InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), a seven-brand global hotelier, has woven analytics into the fabric of its operations. David Schmitt, director of performance strategy and planning, shares IHG's analytics story and his lessons learned.