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WashPost: Why Polls Aren't Always Accurate

Image: WashPost: Why Polls Aren't Always Accurate

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By    |   Tuesday, 20 Sep 2016 12:04 PM

A new report attempts to bring some clarity to the often confusing nature of presidential polls — and why there's so much variation between them.

As The Washington Post's Stuart Rothenberg writes, polls leading up to the 2012 election showed the race between Democrat Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney was a statistical tie. When all the votes had been counted, however, Obama won the popular vote by 3.9 percentage points — somewhere around 5 million votes.

In the current race between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton, polls seem to change on a daily basis. A few factors that could be causing this, Rothenberg writes:

  • Some polls survey registered voters, while others use likely voters. There's a big difference. Using likely voters generally provides a more accurate snapshot.
  • The averaging of polls, such as what RealClearPolitics does to create a usable number across several surveys, isn't always accurate either because it can be skewed by polls that typically fall outside the range of others — such as the Los Angeles Times/USC poll, which this week found Trump to have a 7-point lead.
  • Polls that include the two main parties' candidates have different results than those which include other candidates in the race.
  • Polls will never be truly accurate because it's impossible to predict who will vote on Election Day and what the turnout will be like.

The latest NBC News/Survey Monkey poll shows Clinton with a 5-point lead in a four-way race against Trump, Libertarian Gary Johnson, and the Green Party's Jill Stein.

Polling expert John Zogby, meanwhile, told Newsmax TV Monday Trump is receiving support from a crucial group of voters — the forgotten man.

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Politics
A new report attempts to bring some clarity to the often confusing nature of presidential polls — and why there's so much variation between them.
presidential, polls, accuracy, election
274
2016-04-20
Tuesday, 20 Sep 2016 12:04 PM
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