Expert Pitch

A Rutgers Expert’s Guide to Understanding 2020’s Campaign Polls

Newswise — Four years after the presidential election surprised nearly everyone who followed public opinion polls, it is critical for 2020 voters to have a better understanding of how polling works and what they should look for as the election cycle heats up and the barrage of polls increase. 

Ashley Koning, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and an expert on American public opinion polling, shared tips for voters on how to bring critical thinking to bear when reading poll results during this election cycle.

“The polls this election cycle have so far shown a steady and healthy lead for former Vice President Joe Biden over President Trump, but a lot can still happen between now and Election Day,” Koning said. “Pollsters have been able to rectify some of the mishaps from 2016, such as weighting for education, which proved to be a crucial factor in Trump support. But there are a number of other things that pollsters can’t control - like late deciders, who will turn out versus stay home, and whether or not respondents are divulging their true vote intentions.

“We must remember that while polls are a scientific way of understanding public opinion, they are also tools based on probability and uncertainty and are a snapshot in time of what the public is thinking. Their importance to democracy lies in their ability to represent the voice of the people and explain why individuals feel and act the way they do - not to predict the horserace weeks and months in advance."  

Koning, an assistant research professor at Rutgers University’s Eagleton Institute of Politics and the director of the institute’s Center for Public Interest Polling, discusses the future of polling in this video.

Her guidelines for savvy poll consumers include:

  • Look for polls that fully disclose details about the polling entity’s mission, methods and sponsors. If there is no disclosure, ignore the poll.
  • Find out what questions the pollsters asked. The ways questions are worded, ordered and framed can strongly affect the responses.
  • Pay attention to who and how many people were interviewed, the margin of error, and how the data were weighed. Any of these can impact the seemingly clear-cut percentages mentioned in news reports.
  • Understand that any one poll is just an estimate. Looking at a range of polls on a given topic gives a better sense of public sentiment.
  • Be vigilant about how you interpret pre-election polling. Polls are snapshots in time and exercises in probability. Embrace their uncertainty and acknowledge their range of error, rather than mistaking them as inevitable predictors of what will happen – especially in close races with thin margins.

Filters close

Showing results

110 of 5679
Newswise: Efficient In-person voting observed by URI VOTES research team
Released: 30-Nov-2020 4:30 PM EST
Efficient In-person voting observed by URI VOTES research team
University of Rhode Island

The 2020 election is all but complete, but a team of researchers at the University of Rhode Island is still crunching the numbers – not the number of votes, but the statistics used to determine the efficiency of in-person voting in Rhode Island, Nebraska and Los Angeles.

Newswise: Rutgers Philosophy Professor Analyzes Justice Issues in New Podcast
Released: 30-Nov-2020 9:30 AM EST
Rutgers Philosophy Professor Analyzes Justice Issues in New Podcast
Rutgers University-New Brunswick

Rutgers-New Brunswick philosophy Professor Derrick Darby is helping to bring logic and data to discussions on the struggle for justice in America and globally in A Pod Called Quest.

Released: 20-Nov-2020 4:25 PM EST
Those darn property taxes! Insights from Texas tax protests
University of California, Berkeley Haas School of Business

Everyone loves to complain that their taxes are too high. Yet few people actually take the time to formally protest them. A recent deep-dive into property tax appeals in Texas offers new insights on what motivates people to protest or accept their tax obligations.

Newswise: Biden administration vs. COVID-19: U-M experts can discuss
Released: 19-Nov-2020 4:55 PM EST
Biden administration vs. COVID-19: U-M experts can discuss
University of Michigan

University of Michigan epidemiologists are available to discuss the challenges President-elect Joe Biden’s administration will face in combating the coronavirus when he takes the reins in January.To schedule an interview, contact Nardy Baeza Bickel at nbbickel@umich.edu or text 616-550-4531.Emily Toth MartinEmily Toth Martin, associate professor of epidemiology at the U-M School of Public Health, is an infectious disease epidemiologist who has been using COVID-19 public health data to help inform mitigation and policy.

Newswise: NEW: Youth vote up significantly in 2020; young people of color pivotal
Released: 19-Nov-2020 3:40 PM EST
NEW: Youth vote up significantly in 2020; young people of color pivotal
Tufts University

Presidential election turnout among young people ages 18-29 reached 52-55%, significantly higher than the 45-48% turnout of 2016, according to a new youth turnout estimate released today from CIRCLE at Tufts University’s Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life.


Showing results

110 of 5679

close
1.69145