from http://www.ropercenter.uconn.edu/education/polling_fundamentals_error.html#.UI7cU8XAfIc (see website for chart) What is sampling error? Sampling Error is the calculated statistical imprecision due to interviewing a random sample instead of the entire population. The margin of error provides an estimate of how much the results of the sample may differ due to chance when compared to what would have been found if the entire population was interviewed. An annotated example: There are close to 200 million adult U.S. residents. For comparison, lets say you have a giant jar of 200 million jelly beans. The president has commissioned you to find out how many jelly beans are red, how many are purple and how many are some other color. Since you have limited funds and time you opt against counting and sorting all 200 million jelly beans. Instead you randomly select 500 jelly beans of which 30% are red, 10% are purple and 60% are some other color. Looking at the matrix below, you find that with a sample of 500 jelly beans you can report that 30 percent of the jelly beans in the jar are red, +/- 4%. To further elaborate, you can say, with 95% confidence red jelly beans make up 30%, {+/- 4% or the range of 26-34%} of the beans in the jar. Likewise you can report that purple jelly beans make up 10% {+/- 3% or the range of 7-13%} of the beans in the jar.

Having taught statistics at the college level I understand polling methodology. However, not possessing a MENSA IQ as you claim to... I have no idea what "bjerk" means. :laugh:

I don't look at polls much but they have in the past proven to be very reliable tools. What is very noticable lately is the move in almost every poll taken towards Mr. Romney. Would you agree with that?

The only time I can recall being truly caught off guard by the inaccuracy of polls was the 1980 election. On October 26, 1980, Gallup had Carter ahead 47-39 for Reagan due to the third party candidate John Anderson.

"Bjerk" is a local (Ballard aka Snoose Junction) term for "loco." For those not familiar with "snoose," http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/snoose snoose [snoos, snooz] noun finely powdered tobacco; snuff Origin: 1910–15; < Swedish snusa, Danish, Norwegian snuse, short for Swedish, Danish, Norwegian snustobak ( k ) snuff (sniff) tobacco

Targus - you being an expert - might explain to the gook folks why polls don't mean squat when the difference between the candidates is smaller than or very close to the margin of error.

I doubt that there are very many posters on the board that don't understand the margin of error as it relates to polling.

:thumbs::applause::thumbsup: Yep! Especially, when some assume we don't understand the margin of error. :smilewinkgrin:

A good lesson from the 1980 election. OT, maybe I will eat my words, but I think Wednesday morning we will wake up to a slim Romney victory.

I knew it! You and I have been stubbornly resisting the idea that Romney could win. But really, with the polls turning lately and the momentum seemingly behind Romney it does seem possible that he could win. Be sure to post a final "Your Prediction for the Election" thread before next Tuesday. I really don't know who I'd predict right now but by Tuesday morning I will be forced to decide.