The Beauty of Data Over Time

In a sea of data, it can get quite confusing at times sorting through it all.  Especially when in search of the truth where conflicting reports and data sets come into view.  Fortunately, over time the beauty of aggregated data can shine a white light.

I had this realization recently when I was reintroduced to Project FiveThirtyEight.  A pollster on the television was providing reasoning to the commentator who was confused on “why such wide variances in presidential approval ratings?”  The pollster pointed out the aggregation of all polls at the 538 site on their page dedicated to presidential popularity. The pollster went on to explain the many models and sampling types involved in different methods but explained how, if you gather them all and combine them together, you get a trend line that’s closest to the truth.

A wave of calm washed over me.  I thought, “the people aren’t crazy,” and went on more happily through my day armed with this handy resource.  I had seen Project 538 a few times in pre-election polls but had forgotten about it.  Revisiting it on this occasion, I learned that they have aggregated polls dedicated to more politics (on the upcoming elections), sports like MLB and various soccer leagues, and data trends or depictions around subjects like gun deaths and hurricanes.

This all reminded me of some of the data interpretation we do for clients on certain projects.  We’ll produce trend lines for some continuous efforts that aggregate data collected over time to show if conditions are generally improving or worsening.  This sort of information is beautiful for our clients as they can go into board meetings and either boast that they’ve righted the ship or sound the alarm.

Hope you enjoy what you see on the Project 538 site and please leave us a comment if you’ve got thoughts on data aggregation and trends.

Mark Salow, Marketing Consultant