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Nov 4, 2020

Fake Polls

Polling is getting a lot of attention today. Bad attention.

This is the second election cycle in a row where the polls were pointing towards a solid win for the Democratic Presidential candidate, but the actual vote went the other way.

We call the issue is called Sampling Bias: meaning, the people who participated in the survey don’t accurately reflect the population the poll is supposed to be studying.

Now, the (former) Gold Standard of polling forecasts, Nate Silver’s 538, will tell you that all the results are within the poll’s margin of error. And while the results were super close, I don’t agree with him.

Take a look at this PDF of 538’s final forecast compared with the current results (as of the afternoon of November 4th).If it were merely sampling error, we would see the error go both ways. It is not doing that. The error is consistently under projecting support for President Trump. Sometimes by a lot.

538 pdf

This means that the polls have a serious methodological problem.

As a survey researcher, this is deeply troubling – it means whatever weighting “fixes” pollsters like 538 applied to mitigate the 2016 errors simply did not work. It is also troubling because it further erodes confidence in any survey research findings. Now, whatever the result end up being in this exceptionally tight election, the real loser is polling sciences.

A Few Mail Flag Best Practices

Over the years, there are a couple of reoccurring mistakes that nonprofit organizations tend to make. One of the mostly costly are legacy “no mail” or “restricted mail” flags. One day, no one usually knows when or why, a donor gets flagged as “no mail.” And then, it...

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Right Tools for the Right Job

Goodness gracious. Are you serious? Apparently in UK, COVID19 cases were under reported due to an Excel limitation on the number of cases in a database. Lives are at stake people! Use the right tools of the trade. And even when lives are not at stake, use the right...

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Fall Forecast 2020

I’ll start with the obvious: No one knows how this fall’s fundraising campaigns will do. We are at in a turbulent time. Global pandemic. Rising unemployment. Stimulus checks. Divisive election. World powers butting heads. Us analyst rely heavily on past data to give...

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