Intelligent Poll Commentary

If you look right now at the Yahoo News page there are two conflicting stories:
1 "Obama lead on McCain grows to 12 points"
2 "AP presidential poll: Race tightens in final weeks"

Either Obama has a 12 point lead (Reuteurs) or 1 point lead (AP).

I think the media should start focussing on reporting poll averages. These can still be biased, as you must choose what polls to include in your average, but they'd stop jumping around as much and give people a better basis for decision making. The Globe and Mail did this recently for the Canadian federal election, using an averaged poll on their main election website.

So far as I know, Pollster does a good job of averaging polls (note: someone might be better, I haven't done much research on this). They currently show 50.1 to 43.1 lead for Obama, with the rest being a mix of undecided and other.

With Pollster and the two main prediction markets, showing Obama has a 85% of winning,
-University of Iowa Electronic Market
-Rasmussen Markets
you can do a better job of predicting the outcome in 1 minute, then you'd get from hours of listening to the media. Part of the media's job is to make it sound like more of a horse race than it actually is. They're spending hours going over ever tiny little controversy, while avoiding the big ones - like the fact that both major canidates support a $800 billion/year military.

Poll averages are less exciting because they generally only move 0-1 percent per day. But they're closer to the truth.

Polls predict the result

The poll average did an excellent job of predicting the outcome of the presidential race. It was predicting that Obama would win by 7.1% and he won by 6.5%.