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FiveThirtyEight

Politics

…it’s one of several states that haven’t been polled in months and where the highest-ranked poll is in danger of dropping below the 0.05 weighting threshold and entirely out of our averages. The other states in this group are Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Maryland, North Dakota, South Dakota and Vermont. Rhode Island would have been too, but is getting new numbers today.

From among this group, the most annoying omission is North Dakota, which Obama is visiting today and may actually hope to compete in. For good measure, it’s probably also worth polling South Dakota. As to the rest of these states — it’s fairly obvious in which direction they’re going to go, although Maryland is very bourgie and would therefore be helpful for calibrating demographics, and it’s surprising that Illinois, which has the fifth-largest population in the country, has been polled so little when California and New York have been polled so much.

For the time being, however, what we’re going to do is establish a requirement that the highest-rated poll in each state will be assigned a minimum weight of 0.25, with any other polls in that state calibrated to that number. This is admittedly a little ad-hoc, but all it’s doing is affecting the extent to which we weight the polling as opposed to the regression, which was an ad-hoc decision to begin with. It doesn’t feel right to completely ignore polling that has taken place in a state when that polling is the best thing we have, even if that polling is a little (or a lot) out of date.

This precedent will also be applied to our Senate polling numbers, where it is somewhat more consequential, as some Senate races are polled quite rarely.

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