Here's Why Polls Are So Bad At Predicting Election Results

December 16, 2015

We talked to polling experts Al Tuchfarber and Cliff Zukin to explain why such polls are so unreliable and to set the record straight on pre-presidential election survey methodologies and results. Tuchfarber is professor emeritus of political science at the University of Cincinnati and was the founder and director of the UC Institute for Policy Research from 1971 to 2004. Zukin is professor of political science and public policy, Eagleton Institute of Politics and Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Policy, Rutgers University, and past president elect and current member of the Executive Council for the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR).

“These pre-election polls are demonstrably inaccurate right now,” Tuchfarber says. “When you get to the last few days (pre-Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary voting) they are close but not perfect.”

“It is not a great system from the get-go, and the role of polls in setting expectations is one of those things that happens but it is not very healthy,” Zukin adds.

Fast Company, December 16

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