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Welcome To Poll Vault

The pre-primary slate of candidates for governor (WBUR/AP/Campaign photos)

The pre-primary slate of candidates for governor (WBUR/AP/Campaign photos)

Welcome to Poll Vault, a blog dedicated to mining the data from the campaign trail, and WBUR’s main digital destination for coverage of the 2014 elections in Massachusetts.

The modern political campaign generates a lot of information. Most prominent is political polling, which we have in great quantity and quality in Massachusetts. But it’s not just the polls. Every political action creates a data point. Whether it’s registering to vote, voting, donating to a candidate, buying an ad on TV, or starting a super PAC, all these political activities leave behind a trail of information.

Recently, more and more of this data have become publicly accessible, ripe for analysis by anyone with the interest, expertise and the dedication to sift through it. We begin this blog at a time when sites like FiveThirtyEight, The UpshotElectionLab and others are making great use of these newly available data and tools. But these sites are focused mainly on national politics, and their forays into state-level data are only occasional. There are few sites doing similarly detailed analysis of state level data on a day-to-day basis.

That’s where Poll Vault comes in. It will focus on the 2014 elections in Massachusetts, with special attention paid to the governor’s race and the ballot question to repeal the state’s casino gaming law. We may make occasional forays in other races in New England and further afield. Poll Vault will be primarily a blog but will also feature WBUR’s thorough coverage of the 2014 elections that we provide on the air and via podcast.

  • From The MassINC Polling Group, Steve Koczela will act as Poll Vault host and lead writer. He will cover polling and big data stories from around the state’s political arena.
  • From WBUR, Asma Khalid will be the lead reporter on WBUR’s weekly tracking poll, which will be conducted from now through the general election. Richard Chacón will act as Poll Vault’s supervising editor.
  • From State House News Service, Mike Deehan and Gintautas Dumcius will work with WBUR’s Steve Brown to produce podcasts on competitive legislative elections.
  • From CommonWealth Magazine, Paul McMorrow will contribute his trademark deep dives into the quantitative side of Massachusetts politics, looking at election history, polling, and following the money trail.

We will look first and foremost at the polling, aided by the wealth of information offered by the new WBUR weekly tracking poll. Every week between now and Election Day (Nov. 4), WBUR and The MassINC Polling Group will be in the field polling the governor’s race and other key issues in Massachusetts and regional politics.

Weekly data will allow us to drill down much further than we have been able in the past to examine subgroups and trends. We will also pull in poll data from the state’s plethora of nonpartisan pollsters. This is another area where national outlets are both helpful and less than satisfying. While sites like HuffPollster and RealClearPolitics produce poll averages for state races, their attention is spread over many races and therefore unable to give individual state races the attention they warrant.

In addition to polling, we will look at the rest of the Massachusetts political data trail, exploring voter turnout and registration, historical election results, electoral competitiveness and other dynamics of interest. Finally, WBUR’s slate of political commentators, analysts and reporters will also contribute regularly, giving this site the most robust coverage of Massachusetts politics anywhere.

Our hope, in the end, is to give our readers — and listeners on the radio — deeper insight into how data is transforming politics, media and the 2014 campaign. We hope you’ll join us.

Richard Chacon is the editor of Poll Vault and executive director of news content for WBUR. Steve Koczela is the lead writer for Poll Vault and president of The MassINC Polling Group.

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