Actions

What’s the fate of election pollsters?

Posted at 11:39 PM, Nov 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-05 23:39:55-05

Pre-election polls versus post-election results — it is not adding up in 2020. With counting of absentee ballots continuing across the United States, the numbers are changing constantly. Leaving this question: Is polling dead?

“I think in the light of day, it's going to be a mediocre year for the polls but one where directionally they correctly pointed towards Biden's win in key states once all votes are counted and called,” said Nate Silver. The founder and Editor-in-Chief if 538 — a division of ABC News — spoke with Good Morning America Thursday morning on the issue of polling.

“When you compare the final results that’s going to take a couple of weeks in some states to the polls. The polls will probably windup getting 48 or 49 out of the 50 states right. They will probably come a little low on Biden's popular vote," Silver said.

7 Eyewitness News Reporter Nikki DeMentri asked Associate Professor of Political Science at University of Buffalo and elections expert Jacob Neiheisel: “We’ve talked before and we’ve talked about how things changed after 2016 when it came to the polls, did enough change for this election when it comes to the polls?"
Nieheisel responded: “Clearly not…People like me who are engaged in the polling enterprise, I think they did an awful lot of what they could do, but there’s still some things clearly that are at issue.”

Neiheisel said the problems that plague polling this time around are not really fixable. He points to issues like non-response bias.

“I think that it means that people are not answering our surveys and the people who aren’t answering our surveys have different preferences than those that are. And that’s a problem because you can’t make someone answer a survey,” said Neiheisel.

He does believe polling is here to stay, but this year might be the “final straw for public trust.” Neiheisel said political scientists like himself will continue to use polling but instead of using them to predict things, it’ll be used to diagnose.

“They are some form of information. Not terribly great information is a lot better than no information,” Neiheisel said.