Listening to the media and their analysis of the Presidential Polls can be discouraging. But are they really accurate? Have you been polled; do you know anyone who has? PLEASE TAKE NATIONAL POLLS AND PETITIONS. YOUR OPINION MATTERS Results Are Sent To Congress - Let Congress Hear Your Voice
PLEASE TAKE NATIONAL POLLS AND PETITIONS. YOUR OPINION MATTERS
Results Are Sent To Congress - Let Congress Hear Your Voice
Who doesn’t get surveyed
Since the advent of cell phones, the number of people who have or answer a landline has been steadily declining. Most reputable pollsters call cell phones, but even with those included, Pew Research reported in 2012, about 9 percent of the people pollsters try to reach actually respond.
A low response rate isn’t necessarily a problem if the people who respond are generally similar to people who don’t, which Pew finds is generally true in their very high-quality samples. But think about it: there is now a particular type of person who’s going to pick up the home phone and talk to a pollster. That person is typically older. Old people are different from younger people. That’s a huge problem if the pollster doesn’t call cell phones, as they’ll have a hard time finding enough younger people.
Who gets surveyed
Early primary polls usually look for registered Republicans or registered Democrats, though the people who show up on primary day will be a tiny sliver of that population and may have different characteristics. In 2008, the combined Democratic and Republican turnout in all primary and caucus contests nationwide was roughly a quarter of the adult population. It fell to just over 10 percent in 2012 thanks to a non-competitive Democratic contest, according to voter turnout statistics maintained by University of Florida Professor Michael McDonald.
National polls of registered partisans sample a pool of potential primary voters that is two to three times larger than the group of Americans who will actually show up on primary day. This practice occurs as much by necessity as by design, since there wouldn’t be enough likely voters to analyze in a sample if pollsters narrowed it down to the proportion of people who usually vote in primaries. Also, models that aim to predict which poll respondents are likely to vote are problematic enough even in general elections. People who say they plan to vote may not actually vote for a variety of reasons and those who don’t think they will vote might end up with a reason to vote on Election Day. Trying to anticipate actual primary voting would require accounting for widely different turnout by states, including significantly higher turnout in primary than in caucus states.