Today's political note is on easy-to-forget AP rules on polls.
In general, remember that stories about polls must include:
1. Who did the poll and who paid for it.Now, the easy-to-forget stuff:
2. How many people were interviewed and how they were selected.
3. Who was interviewed.
4. How the poll was conducted.
5. When the poll was taken.
6. What the margin of error is.
Pay special attention to those margins of error. If you're reporting a difference in percentage points between two candidates, it has to be outside the margin of error to be significant. AP explains:
If the difference is at least equal to the sampling error but no more than twice the sampling error, then one candidate can be said to be "apparently leading" or "slightly ahead" in the race.Also, you must include "plus or minus." Plus or minus 3 percentage points is different from just 3 percentage points.
And AP also calls for the rounding of margins of error to the nearest half-point, poll results to the nearest point.