Political Polling

Do polls accurately measure public attitudes?


Smart phones, social media and the Internet have made it easier than ever for people to make their views known, but the new technology can make it harder for political pollsters to gather and measure public opinions with precision or consistency. They face public suspicions of partisanship, reluctance to provide candid answers and — as cellphone use grows — difficulty reaching respondents by the traditional method of random calls to household landlines. Meanwhile, critics charge that the news media pay too much attention to “horse-race” polls showing who leads in political races and not enough to candidates' policy ideas. The 2014 elections, in which pollsters miscalled the results of a number of closely watched races, cast a harsh spotlight on the industry, but pollsters contend ...

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