HD 96 epilogue: Outliers and the margin of error

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Let me state up front that I am NOT a pollster. I dabble, I tinker, and I play.

My robo calls are one part entertainment and one part informational. As such, some we get right and some, as more than a few of you have pointed out (a.k.a. HD 40), we get wrong.

But as the Monty Python skit implores, let’s not bicker and argue over who killed who.

As I was saying, we got most of the races right and we got some of them wrong. But if you recall, I pointed out one particular race that just HAD to be an outlier: Kristin Jacobs v. Steve Perman.

I was particularly intrigued by these results because this was, after all, supposed to be a battle of local titans. A former state Representative coming home to his real district versus a term-limited county commissioner. Both were raising good money, both were running serious races, and both had professional campaign teams.

So, at first, when I saw the insanely skewed poll results, I sincerely questioned the findings and I thought I would simply share those questions with you.

And then results came in Tuesday night.

Wow, we got that one right, as Jacobs blew Perman out of the water. In the end, the final tally looked like she ran a campaign for the ages beating Perman by more than four to one.

So what about our poll?

We showed that among likely voters, Jacobs held an eye-watering 53 to 11 percent lead. A few simple calculations show that if the undecided voters broke evenly, didn’t vote, or broke proportionately, Jacobs would end up between 70.6% and 82% respectively. She ended up at 76.3%.

For a quick robo-poll with a margin of error of +8%, I’d say St. Pete Polls nailed it.

And lest anyone accuse me of pimpin’ St. Pete Polls: We got it wayyyy wrong in HD 40.


Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.