The principles that rule this blog

Principles that will govern my thoughts as I express them here (from my opening statement):

  • Freedom of the individual should be as total as possible, limited only by the fact that nobody should be free to cause physical injury to another, or to deprive another person of his freedoms.
  • Government is necessary primarily to provide those services that private enterprise won't, or won't at a price that people can afford.
  • No person has a right to have his own beliefs on religious, moral, political, or other controversial issues imposed on others who do not share those beliefs.

I believe that Abraham Lincoln expressed it very well:

“The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do, at all, or cannot
so well do, for themselves — in their separate, individual capacities.”

Comments will be invited, and I will attempt to reply to any comments that are offered in a serious and non-abusive manner. However, I will not tolerate abusive or profane language (my reasoning is that this is my blog, and so I can control it; I wouldn't interfere with your using such language on your own!)

If anyone finds an opinion that I express to be contrary to my principles, they are welcome to point this out. I hope that I can make a rational case for my comments. Because, in fact, one label I'll happily accept is rationalist.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The outlier

I have been regularly following the polls on the Real Clear Politics site. And I have been noting that Mitt Romney, though still behind on average, was pulling even with Barack Obama. A couple of days ago, the spread was less than 1%. Then, suddenly, the gap opened up a bit - to 2.3%. Given that this is an average of the nine most recent polls, even that small a change is big, so I looked at the details. It seems that one poll, by Bloomberg News, came in, in which Obama leads by 13 percentage points, 53% to 40%! Without that Bloomberg poll, the difference between Romney and Obama is still under 1 point.

This poll seems to have overrepresented Democrats. The Democratic favorable-vs.-unfavorable figures in this poll were 50-43; the Republican, 41-50. I am not certain what it is nationwide, in fact, but these numbers are suspicious. And in the favorable-vs.-unfavorable ratings in the Bloomberg poll, Obama is rated favorable 55-42, and Romney unfavorable 39-48. This is clearly an outlier. In an average of 7 polls (including this one) RCP shows Obama rated favorable 52-44, Romney unfavorable by such a small amount that to the nearest percentage point it's a 43-43 tie! (If you exclude the Bloomberg poll and look at the other six, Obama's favorable-vs.-unfavorable figures are 51-44, Romney's 43.5-42, actually positive!)

Why is this poll such an outlier? I wonder. It doesn't seem to be Bloomberg as such; I've looked at some earlier Bloomberg polls and they do not seem as far out of line. (I've noted that Rasmussen's polls, generally, tend to skew a bit toward the Republicans.) This is merely an enigmatic outlier.

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