What Could The Polls Be Missing?


From FiveThirtyEight:

In this week’s politics chat, we weighed reasons the polls could be underestimating Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. The transcript below has been lightly edited.

micah (Micah Cohen, politics editor): The first presidential debate is behind us, and by most metrics, Hillary Clinton had the better night. But we’ll have to wait a few days to see how/whether the polls move as a result. So, in the meantime, I’d like us to ponder the road ahead. Specifically, whether there are factors not captured by the polls that will help Trump or Clinton.

natesilver (Nate Silver, editor in chief): Did you see the Drudge poll? Trump won 80-20.

micah: I don’t trust the Drudge poll; I always go to the Patch poll first.

clare.malone (Clare Malone, senior political writer): I like to ask my cab drivers what they thought.

natesilver: I’m a big fan of the Pravda.ru poll, but it’s a little Trump-leaning. The raw numbers were 99-1 Trump, but our model adjusts it to 97-3.

micah: Anyway, the goal here is to consider factors that might be working in either candidate’s favor that the polls are missing.

clare.malone: Astrological signs.

micah: So, let’s run through some.

Hypothesis #1: The polls are underestimating Clinton because they don’t factor in her superior ground game.

Most reports (and we’ll have an article with some extensive data on this soon) suggest that Clinton is far better organized than Trump, with more field offices, for example, and a better get-out-the-vote (GOTV) operation. Isn’t that reason to think the polls are underestimating Clinton by a bit?

natesilver: That’s one of the better arguments, yeah.

harry (Harry Enten, senior political writer): Well, the question you have to ask yourself is whether or not the field game is being picked up …

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