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Forecast Election Results With Presidential Plinko

Lifehacker: “You see The New York Times’ “election needle,” and you get anxiety. You read FiveThirtyEight, and you wonder how your candidate can lose after being up by some seemingly impressive number of “points” or polls prior to an election. Welcome to the wide world of uncertainty, which many people—including myself—tend to discount when glancing at statistics, probability, and flat-out guesses. A prediction based on polling can be true and not true at the same time; yes, your candidate can be ahead in a poll, theoretically, but still end up losing because the poll didn’t quite accurately capture the will of the people that it intended to represent. And that little thing called the “margin of error” is important, too, even though we often pretend it doesn’t exist. To help us better understand this, Matthew Kay, an assistant professor of computer science at Northwestern University, devised a rather clever way to show how uncertainty can affect polling data…”

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