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Poll Addict Confesses - NYTimes.com


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Scholars at Duke University studied 11,600 forecasts by corporate chief financial officers about how the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index would perform over the next year. The correlation between their estimates and the actual index was less than zero.

And, if it’s hard to predict stocks or the economy, politics is a field perfectly designed to foil precise projections.

Politics isn’t a game, like poker, with an artificially limited number of possible developments. National elections are rare, so we have ridiculously small sample sizes. Political campaigns don’t give pollsters immediate feedback, so they can gradually correct their errors. They have to wait for Election Day for actual results, and only the final poll is verifiable.

Op-Ed Columnist

Poll Addict Confesses

By

DAVID BROOKS

Published: October 22, 2012

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