Ask Kristin: What Do The Polls Say?

By The Policy Circle Team

A crazy political season is upon us again, and everyone seems to have an opinion. Experts spend their days conducting and publishing polls to publicize where public opinion is leaning. Meanwhile, the most outspoken folks are closely following polling data and tempering their comments accordingly.

So, what do the polls say?  

Check out this Real Clear Politics site that will show you a daily aggregate of the major polls.

Pollsters as a profession took a lot of flack after the 2016 presidential election. The polls predicting the 2016 U.S. presidential election, 2015 British general election and the 2016 Brexit vote in the U.K. are all well known as ‘epic disasters,’ according to the Smithsonian.

Yet, researchers recently studied “30,000 voter polls conducted across 351 general elections in 45 nations over a span of 75 years and found that the accuracy of polls have not changed much over the decades… The problematic polls of recent years are in line with historic polling.”

I don’t find that particularly comforting, but it does give important context when you hear about a recent poll.

And, the Real Clear Politics site helps you see a range of data by putting the FOX News polls next to the New York Times polls alongside the PBS/NPR/Marist polls and the Reuters/Ipsos polls, etc. – so you can sift through the tea leaves and decide for yourself. It also makes it easy to compare the sample size and the dates that each poll was conducted.

It’s that time again. Don’t sit back and let your head spin with recent Supreme Court nomination headlines and a new NAFTA to be known as USCMA. It’s time to get organized to exercise your right to vote on Tuesday, November 6th!

Here’s a checklist:

  • Check the process, make sure you’re registered to vote and know where to go on election day.
  • If you’re willing to share your home address and email address, Ballotpedia will show you your sample ballot and help you find your polling place.
  • Some states allow early voting, and if you aren’t going to be home – make sure to pick up your absentee ballot. Those have to be notarized and turned in before the election!
  • Consider the role social media is playing in today’s election environment. A lot of information is shared quickly and not all of it is fair and balanced. Make sure you read various perspectives before you make up that mind of your own!
  • To learn more, check out The Policy Circle’s Assessing Candidates brief and discuss it with your friends.