With the US Presidential election closing in, Microsoft’s bid to provide a new form of interactive polling, the Election 2012 hub for Xbox has started to promote questions about the recent debates. Every night at midnight PT, the hub gets updated with a new poll question, new users answer a demographic survey to place them into context, and poll numbers are crunched; but for Xbox LIVE users there will also be an “interactive” polling mechanism that enables partners to push questions (and receive answers) during debates themselves.)
In an article on The Verge, the nature of the “interactive” polling method is portrayed (and briefly demoed) as an overlay across a debate, including metrics after the poll receives votes. The polls themselves will be conducted by YouGov, a market research firm, and Xbox LIVE users will be asked questions during the debate they can answer from their consoles or even tweet them in via the #XboxPoll hashtag.
In an interview with Polygon, David Rothschild, Ph.D., an economist at Microsoft Research, said that the polls have reached over 10,000 daily users so far—a number only expected to increase as the election approaches—and that many of those users are repeat pollsters. This is extremely important in a statistics context because it will allow analysis to show how repeat poll users have changed their views according to what they’ve watched in the debates.
Hands on with the Xbox live polling system
Blogger Cloture Club had the benefit of going to DC’s Microsoft HQ to get a hands-on experience with the Xbox Live Election Hub and come back with the tale of questions delivered to television screens across the nation.
So far, the first chance to experience this for Xbox users happened yesterday, October 3rd, during last night’s Presidential debate. For those who didn’t get the chance, here’s how it works:
After booting into your xbox, head over to the Video section and click XBox Live Election Hub. During the presidential debate various pop up questions will appear on your screen like “Did the candidate answer the question?” or “Which candidate would you play Xbox with?”. After answering one of these questions with your controller (or Kinect camera) an instant poll result will appear and will continue to populate as more votes are tallied. This process really allows you as a the viewer to become a participant.
The Election Hub will be much more than just the midnight questions and the live polling from YouGov as it will also feature content from numerous political media groups such as MTV’s Rock the Vote and Hulu. Rock the Vote’s participation will come in the way of public service announcements providing information on how to get registered to vote—and Saturday Night Live skits will also be available riffing on the latest issues.
No doubt the reach of more than 40 million Xbox Live users will make the Election Hub a powerful outreach to voters for polling and data collection.
I expect that if this data is available to anyone, I hope that the folks at the ever amazing FiveThirtyEight blog (now licensed to the New York Times) which during the last election showed amazing statistical insights into the way that polls work and became a powerhouse of exactly how the web and data visualization could be wedded together to make an awesome product.
YouGov, FiveThrityEight, and other organizations who crunch numbers and live in the big data generated by poll results will become the barometer for media and the population who are watching with anticipation as the debates ramp up.
Of course, no few statistics nerds will be watching as well and knowing that the Xbox is being used to attempt to mobilize some of their 40 million subscribers to participate in the political process will be a heartening thing.
UPDATE: The new platform may have reviewed well in the hands of previewers; but last night’s anticipation led to a lot of hype and some of the hands-on reviews from customers are starting to come in. This article in Kotaku skewers participation and says that the stream itself crashed–leaving some viewers in political darkness.