Pollster: Election predictions couldn’t account for avid support
Most polls heading into the Nov. 8 presidential election predicted Hillary Clinton would come out on top over opponent Donald Trump. But the day after, many people are asking, “How did pollsters get the Trump-Clinton election so wrong?”
Like many, Alaska political analyst Ivan Moore says he was surprised by the election results and that no one could have predicted Trump’s “stunning upset” over Clinton to win the presidency.
However, Moore believes the predictions weren’t as far off as people are making out and that polling is more of an art than an actual science.
“It’s not an error. It’s due to the impossible task of predicting who is going to vote and who is not,” Moore said.
He says the reason the polls appear to have missed their mark is due to an unexpected factor that no one could have put a number on: voter enthusiasm.
“This was basically an enthusiasm difference between Trump support and Clinton support.“ Moore said.
Moore went on to explain that even a very small difference in that enthusiasm, combined with each person’s likeliness to actually get out and vote, can easily make a difference of two or three points in a close race.
“It can turn into a big swing for the person who has more enthusiastic, more willing-to-get-out-there supporters. That was clearly what was going on with Trump,” Moore said.
The race began to tighten in the days leading up to big vote. Still, some people never questioned the polling data that predicted Clinton’s victory would be substantial, but not overwhelming, according to a report in The Huffington Post.
The head of the University of Alaska Anchorage Journalism and Communication department, Paola Banchero, says media across the nation have some soul searching to do.
“There is an over-reliance on polling data because it’s relatively easy to portray to the public,” Banchero said. “I think a lot of reporting on polls fails to explain the margin of error and the method used to gather that data.”
This isn’t the first time that the polls didn’t correctly project election results.
Just a few months ago, Moore says analytics failed to foresee the vote in Britain to leave the European Union, better known as Brexit.
And in 1948, the Chicago Daily Tribe printed arguably one of the most famous headline mistakes, which prematurely stated,“Dewey Defeats Trump,” the day after incumbent President Harry Truman won an upset victory over his Republican challenger.
“There’s nothing magic about polls that says they are going to be bang on every time,” Moore said.
The polls are never intended to be a predictor, according to Moore. He says there are two important things to remember. First, polling numbers are not always exact but they do give insight into the potential range of results. Second, that is impossible to predict with any kind of accuracy how likely someone is to go vote.
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