Statistics Dictionary

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Margin of Error

The margin of error expresses the maximum expected difference between the true population parameter and a sample estimate of that parameter. To be meaningful, the margin of error should be qualified by a probability statement (often expressed in the form of a confidence level).

For example, a pollster might report that 50% of voters will choose the Democratic candidate. To indicate the quality of the survey result, the pollster might add that the margin of error is +5%, with a confidence level of 90%. This means that if the survey were repeated many times with different samples, the true percentage of Democratic voters would fall within the margin of error 90% of the time.

See also:   Margin of Error | Tutorial: Survey Sampling