Challenge Grant: Our Boosters will match donations up to $45,000. We have $37,946 to go. Please donate!
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

math lesson

By Diogenes (articles ) | Jan 07, 2008

Today, class, we'll be doing a simple problem involving statistics.

An American Research Group poll, released on the eve of the New Hampshire primary, shows Senator Obama leading Senator Clinton among the state's likely Democratic voters, by a margin of 11%.

A Franklin Pierce University poll, released the same day, shows Obama leading Clinton by just 3%.

The American Research Group pollsters claim that their results are accurate within 4%; the Franklin Pierce survey gives a 4.9% margin for error.

Question #1: Can these two poll results be reconciled, given the margins of error provided by the pollsters?

Question #2: If so-- if an 11% margin might really be only a 3% margin-- what is the predictive value of these polls?

An appeal from our founder, Dr. Jeffrey Mirus:

Dear reader: If you found the information on this page helpful in your pursuit of a better Catholic life, please support our work with a donation. Your donation will help us reach seven million Truth-seeking readers worldwide this year. Thank you!

Our Fall Campaign
Progress toward our year-end goal ($126,475 to go):
$150,000.00 $23,524.70
84% 16%
Sound Off! CatholicCulture.org supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

Show 3 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: - Jan. 09, 2008 4:53 PM ET USA

    Clearly, they were all wrong Bad side: Hillary Won Good Side: Media and pundits had egg on their faces Overall its a wash

  • Posted by: - Jan. 09, 2008 4:54 AM ET USA

    Who cares. Hillary won.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 08, 2008 8:34 AM ET USA

    Good point, but not quite stastically accurate. An 11% margin might really be only a 7% margin, and a 3% margin might be up to a 7.9% margin, but an 11% margin can't be a 3% margin. Putting the two polls together actually provides the much more precise margin of only 7-7.9% for Obama. It's only useful, of course, if the pollsters accurately represent the margins of error and the polls were well-conducted otherwise, which is by no means a guarantee of accuracy and predictive value.

Fall 2014 Campaign
Subscribe for free
Shop Amazon
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Recent Catholic Commentary

The Pope is not the problem 1 hours ago
Do not confuse sacramental discipline and Catholic doctrine. 3 hours ago
Ignatius Press into the Breach: Trumping the Kasper Proposal October 22
Has the Vatican finally discovered how to avoid inaccurate English translations? October 22
The Synod: It's a Wrap! October 21

Top Catholic News

Most Important Stories of the Last 30 Days
Key synod report calls for 'gradualism' in Church response to irregular family situations CWN - October 13
As synod concludes, bishops issue message, approve document; Pope weighs in CWN - October 20
Cardinal Parolin: UN must protect innocents from Islamic State CWN - September 30
Synod of Bishops opens with Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica CWN - October 6