AirTalk for November 5, 2010

Handicapping pre-election polls

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Eric Thayer/Getty Images

A resident votes in the midterm election at James Madison Middle School November 2, 2010 in the Van Nuys neighborhood of Los Angeles, California.

Now that the dust from the midterms has (mostly) settled and (nearly) all the votes have been counted, there’s one aspect of election season that bears more attention. Voters and campaigns have traditionally looked to pre-election polls to predict how elections will likely turn out. But polling methods aren’t standardized and frequently differ. Critics of early polling argue that potentially inaccurate predictions, which often get loads of media coverage, might negatively influence voters and possibly election outcomes. Or, just be totally off. Well, the tallies are in, and it’s possible to judge whether the polls got it right – or miserably wrong. So, which ones called it? Which didn’t? And more importantly, why?

Guests:

Jane Junn, Professor and polling expert, Department of Political Science at USC, also directs the USC - LA Times Poll

Nate Silver, founder of FiveThirtyEight.com on the New York Times – a polling aggregation website and blog


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