Thank you for this primer on polling. As a 26year old male who has no formal education in political science, I found the information mostly new to me. Thank you for this interview.
@ Robert Harris, if polls are not accurate reflections of the electoral college, aren't they still important windows to the workings of presidential politics? I reference the wonderful BBC documentary Eight People Sipping Wine in Kettering, (can be watched on YouTube) to illustrate that political strategy today is largely based around these opinion polls, and other more structured market research. From what I understand, polling data is vital for candidates to isolate particular opinion groups (mostly the swing voter), to which campaigns tailor their message to gain those votes.
Though to this I cede that our daily 'Horse Race' updates are not at all nuanced data, and fail as you have described.
Thank you for your story on improving presidential polling, "Margins of Error." But this and similar stories ignore the elephant in the room, namely that national polls are lousy tools for predicting the outcome of elections. With the Electoral College there are essentially 50 votes counted in the presidential election. A representative poll would ask the opinion of likely voters in each state, then project the outcome of the Electoral College. If our presidential electoral system counted one vote for one person the current polling system might have some relevance, but since it doesn't any intellectual ruminations about the finer points of the current polling system are irrelevant.
Register for your own account so you can vote on comments, save your favorites, and more.
Please stay on topic, be civil, and be brief.
Email addresses are never displayed, but they are required to confirm
your comments. Names are displayed with all comments. We reserve the
right to edit any comments posted on this site. Please read the
Comment Guidelines before
By leaving a comment, you agree to New York Public Radio's
On The Media is funded, in part, by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation,
the Overbrook Foundation and the Jane Marcher Foundation.