I’ve created a permanent page for the tracking poll graphic. I’ll try to update it as new poll results come out.
I always knew in an intellectual sense that individual poll results were largely meaningless and that the long term trends were what counts, but – to me – this chart really hammers that home. The data is as noisy as hell. Take a look at some of the results just prior to the 2008 election: they showed a really close race, which wasn’t actually close at all.
So every time there’s a new poll out and the political editor publishing it breathlessly speculates on the reasons behind the ‘dramatic gains’ or whatever, it might help to remember this chart and the semi-random distribution of most of these individual results.