Polls Are Like A Bad Mate. They Keep Letting Us Down. | Connecticut Public Radio

Polls Are Like A Bad Mate. They Keep Letting Us Down.

Nov 19, 2020

Many of the poll results that drove headlines this election season missed the mark, even after pollsters spent the previous four years correcting for the errors of 2016.

They shouldn't feel too bad. Even George Gallup got it wrong. But Gallup had it easier. Almost ninety percent of people answered polls in his day. Today, about six percent of people answer polls - and the ones that do tend to have more social trust in other people and institutions.

Pollsters will be dissecting the hits and misses in their predictions for some time. Could it be that not enough people participate any longer for them to get a diverse enough sample of viewpoints to reflect our political reality? Should we consider whether polls advance or hinder democracy? 

We talk about the history and current state of polling, including how pollsters misread the Latino vote.


  • David Shor is an independent data analyst who formerly worked for the 2012 Obama campaign and Civis Analytics. (@davidshor)
  • David Greenberg is a professor of History, and of Journalism & Media Studies at Rutgers University, and a contributing editor to Politico Magazine. He is currently working on a biography of the late congressman John Lewis. (@republicofspin)
  • Arelis Hernandez covers the U.S. Southern border, immigration, and Texas for The Washington Post (arelisrhdz)

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Colin McEnroe and Cat Pastor contributed to this show.