Video: The Art and Science of Polling


Mollyann Brodie, Senior Vice President, Public Opinion and Survey Research, Kaiser Family Foundation; President, American Association of Public Opinion Research


Jon Cohen, Chief Research Officer, SurveyMonkey
Michael Dimock, President, Pew Research Center
Alex Lundry, Co-Founder and Chief Data Scientist, Deep Root Analytics
Margie Omero, Executive Vice President, Public Affairs, PSB Research; Co-Host, “The Pollsters”

Polls play an essential role in our democracy, but in recent high-profile elections, polls failed to accurately predict results. Races that were reported to be dead heats turned out to be far from it. Huge leads evaporated into dramatic upsets. Despite rapid technological advances, most pollsters still rely on phone surveys to sample public opinion, even though fewer and fewer people agree to participate. Will online surveys, which potentially can tap a more willing pool of participants, provide the answer? Will the use of new technologies — which enable pollsters to reach mobile users — lead to more accurate phone surveys? And will the use of more powerful, sophisticated algorithms compensate for declining response rates? The most pressing question, as the 2016 elections draw near, is how much faith we should put in polls. If people decide whether to vote based on pollsters’ forecasts, is polling a danger to participation in democracy? How can we remove inherent biases in survey results to develop sound policy?

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