Leah Byers and I used W. Joseph Campbell’s book “Lost in a Gallup” as a springboard for a discussion on presidential polling. The subtitle of his book is “Polling Failure in U.S. Presidential Elections” and you can find the full print review here. Campbell will be a guest on the Civitalk podcast right before the upcoming election.
One of the main conclusions in the book is that polls are an important tool but they can sometimes fail in surprising ways. Byers and I talk about some of those failures in the video below. One example is how non-college-educated voters were undersampled in critical Midwestern swing states in 2016. Top pollsters have adjusted to that error by weighting education levels in surveys. And on top of that, pollsters have to weight up, because the non-college-educated are less likely to talk to pollsters than those with a degree.
While 2020 has been a crazy year the presidential polls have remained remarkably consistent, especially in close states like North Carolina. Nationally, former vice president Joe Biden has held a consistent lead in recent months. As Byers points out, polls are just a snapshot in time so it will be fascinating to watch how this race plays out in the battleground states. Obviously, North Carolina is right at ground zero.