Today we’re announcing the official release of the 2012 edition of PollTracker.com, TPM Media’s proprietary poll aggregating, averaging and charting application. It’s quite simply the best place on the web to find all the latest polls, averages of the races that you’re following and beautiful, interactive charts that help you visualize what’s happening in a race and where it’s likely to be going.
Join me after the jump for a complete tour.
This is the fourth election cycle for PollTracker, starting with the 2006 campaign. It’s dramatically upgraded for 2012 with new charting technology, a more refined tracking and averaging methodology and a handy presidential dashboard that brings together in one place all the key data to keep on top of the race.
PollTracker tracks the presidential race, every congressional and gubernatorial race and select state referenda and issue questions. We also have favorability and approval data for most major political figures around the country.
Below you’ll see a screenshot of the new PollTracker landing page. A few things to note. Looking for the latest polls on any contest in the country? Just go straight to the map. It’s color coded for where the most recent polls have been added. Hover over a state to see what the latest is and click through for all the polls in that state.
Below the map our featured polls section. The PollTracker editors’ take on the most important recent polls.
Then finally, something we think you’ll find extremely helpful: Our 2012 Presidential Dashboard. At the top you’ll find the current PollTracker Average of the national presidential race. Then beneath you’ll see four tabs that help you dig into the details of the race. From left to right, swing states, key voter subgroups, candidate approval and favorability data and the latest national polls. Click through on the map to see it in action and poke around in the presidential dashboard. Let us know what you think.
Charts? We’ve Got Charts
For every contest with more than a half dozen polls we have a trend chart that shows the trend in the race over time. Here I’ve embedded one of the most popular: the national presidential horse race contest.
Hover over the chart to see where the PollTracker Average stood on a given date. Push your finger down and drag the mouse to zoom into a particular date range. The data at the upper left shows each candidate’s current level of support and the spread separating them.
Want to dig further into the numbers? The buttons at the lower left allows you to filter the data to learn more. Want to see what the average is without a certain pollster? Or you want to see it with only ‘likely’ voter data? Or maybe you want to see just live phone poll data? Dig in and slice and dice the data as you like.
What’s Our Methodology?
Now, how do we generate our numbers? Our methodology is based on maximal inclusion of a wide range of public polls. Our core approach is not to evaluate the relative quality of different polls or different polling organizations but to put together all public polls. The editors use their editorial judgment to reject polls about which serious questions of methodology and/or integrity have been raised. But we seek to err on the side of inclusion. At present, we include traditional phone polls and ‘robocalls’ on the same basis. We collect ‘internet polls’ such as Zogby, Harris and YouGov. But these are not included in our polling averages.
For our averages, PT uses a ‘regression analysis’ which derives trends from scatterings of polls, taking into account both the different poll numbers and their progression over time. For the stats-geeks among you, our system uses the LOESS regression analysis library to generate numbers. Our customized version was developed in consultation with Professor Charles Franklin of the University of Wisconsin, one of the nation’s foremost expects in the statistical measure of public opinion data.
Other Cool Stuff!
As we announced on Tuesday, later this month we’ll be releasing PollTracker Mobile, an iPhone application which brings all the data from PollTracker to your fingertips along with live notifications for your favorite polls. And last but not least, a lot of us just want to see the big board. How does the electoral college look as of today? For that, check out the TPM Electoral Scoreboard, with polling date driven by PollTracker.
A Bit on Our Awesome Team
Great work from a lot of people has gone into building this year’s application. But it’s principally the work of two people — PollTracker Editor Kyle Leighton and TPM’s Director of Technology Eric Buth. Additional critical work was done by TPM Designer/Developer Ni Mu on front end design and interface, as well as Polling Fellow Tom Kludt on data management and poll analysis. The amount of dedication, diligence and plain old hard work this team has put into this project over many months has been amazing to watch and made everyone at TPM incredibly proud. Personally, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank them.
As I said, PollTracker has been totally redesigned for the 2012 cycle. But really, no online data application is ever truly finished. It’s always been refined, improved and expanded in response to reader feedback, critiques and requests. So we’d be much obliged if you’d dig right in, take it for a spin and let us know what you think and how we can improve this great application.
Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.