Frequently Asked Questions
What does "Pickups" mean under the map?It means that one party or the other picked it up, that is, the seat changed from Democratic to Republican or vice versa compared to the previous election. From looking at the color of the state on the map, you can see which party is winning it.
How do I know you are not cheating with the numbers?Valid question. First, all the polling data can be downloaded for you to inspect. here . You can see who ran the poll and then go check the pollster's Website. Second, there is a site similar to this one, www.electionprojection.com, run by a Rabid Republican. While I can't stomach his politics and analysis, I have checked his numbers very carefully and they are completely honest. If you doubt a poll, go see if he has it. But note that we have different sources (some cost quite a bit of money) and different posting cycles. As an aside, if you assume I am cheating, that says something about you. In essence, you are saying: "If I were running such a site, I'd certainly cheat to make it look like my horse were winning so I assume the other guys do the same thing."
Where do you get your funding?I have paid for the site entirely out of my own pocket. No campaign, party, 527, or other funds from any sources whatsoever have been used. In 2004, I didn't even have a way for anyone to make donations until late in the season, but so many people told me they wanted to contribute, I set up a PayPal account. Donations, as described on the donations page will be used to buy ads to publicize the site. The list of places where the ads have run is given on the donations page.
Why are your results different from other sites'?There are many valid reasons. First, methodologies differ. Second, not everyone has access to the same polls. I subscribe to the premium (paid) services offered by several pollsters, giving me (early) access to polls not available to the general public. Third, this site is updated once a day by 7 a.m. EDT. Other sites have different update patterns, sometimes as low as once a week. Fourth, some pollsters try to guess who is a likely voter and report the scores separately for likely voters and registered voters. Currently I use likely voters. Some other sites may use registered voters, which gives a different result.
Why aren't Gallup polls used?They are. However Gallup is not commissioned to do many state polls. It is not their speciality. The state polls that they do conduct are most certainly used.
Why don't you track the House of Representatives too?I do, it is just that there is no map, which would be uninformative because congressional districts are so small (and oddly shaped). The list of all polls for the House can be found here and the score for the House is at the top of the main page.
What does PVI mean?It means Partisan Voting Index, a term invented by political guru Charlie Cook. It tells how much more Democratic or Republican a congressional district is than the country as a whole based on the past two Presidential elections. For example, CA-12 at D+22 is 22% more Democratic than the country as a whole and IN-03 at R+16 is 16% more Republican than the country as a whole. The value for every CD is given here.
What do the terms "strong," "weak," and "barely" mean?By definition, "strong" means support of 10% or more; "weak" means 5% to 9%, and "barely" means less than 5%. The states marked barely are statistical ties.
Can you explain how polling works?Yes, but it is a long story. See this page.
What is a push poll?It is a way of slandering a political opponent in the guise of a poll. The so-called pollster calls thousands of people (instead of the normal 600-1000) and asks questions including things like: "Did you know that Sen. John McCain has a black child?" (used by the Bush campaign in South Carolina in the 2000 primaries). The implication was that McCain had an affair with a black woman. In reality, he and Mrs. McCain adopted a handicapped child from Mother Teresa's orphanage in Bangladesh. So this act of kindness was spun as a way of insinuating that he cheated on his wife, but in such a way that the Bush campaign didn't formally lie and if caught could say, "Oh, we were just curious about racial attitudes."
You reported a new poll today but I don't see the dot on the graph.It is important to understand a poll's life cycle. The poll is taken during a certain time period, say Sept. 10-12. Then the pollster analyzes the data and publishes the result, say on Sept. 15. Then the media disseminate the result, say on Sept. 17. Then I publish it, say Sept. 18 (often I have poll results before publication in the media, but they are embargoed so I have to wait until the official publication date). Now suppose you see the Website on Sept. 19. The poll will be there, but the dot will be on the midpoint of the poll, in this example, Sept. 11. But if you were looking on Sept. 19, indeed, you won't find it there.
I love this site. Can I donate money to help out?Yes. See the donations page.
I hate this site. Is there one run by a Republican?Yes. Take a look at electionprojection.com. It is run by someone who has devoted his life to Jesus and is strongly biased in favor of Republicans in his commentary (but his numbers seem to be OK).
Can I put a link to your site from my website or blog?Yes. Click on Icons for bloggers on the menu and there are two different icons you can just cut and paste onto your website or blog. Or make your own.
Are the Excel spreadsheets available in .csv format?Yes, click here.
Is there a way to search this site?Yes. Use the Google search box at the bottom of the main page.
How well did EVP do predicting previous elections?Very well indeed. See this discussion.
Is it possible to send mail to the Votemaster?Yes, but due to the volume of mail (> 15,000 in 2004 and more since), you probably won't get an answer. Mail that is short and to the point, does not rant, and conceivably has a short answer has a better chance of being answered. For example: "Did you see this neat page listing all the ... in the history of the Senate?" The address is email@example.com. PLEASE do not send mail as quoted-printable or in HTML or base64. Just plain ASCII text. I have a text-only mail program since the graphical ones are too slow. When you get hundreds of emails a day, a couple of seconds per message matters.
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