© 2022 The Duluth-Superior Area Educational Television Corporation (WDSE)

The North 103.3 FM is licensed to The Duluth-Superior Area Educational Television Corporation (WDSE)
Same format, new name - KUMD is now The North 103.3 FM.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Public Affairs

Polling around the 2020 presidential election: why they never make the same mistake twice


Sometimes it seems like all polling does - like exit polls during an election - is give TV news people something to talk about before they actually have something to talk about.

But W. Joseph Campbell, Ph.D. Professor at the School of Communication at American University in Washington D.C. and the author of Lost in a Gallup: Polling Failure in U.S. Presidential Elections, says humans have a basic instinct to know what's likely to happen.

Which is a great idea as far as it goes, but when the polls go wrong, as they did in 2016, for example, the problem is failure isn't replicable.  In other words, trying to figure out how to guard against surprises is trying to figure out what you don't know.

Campbell spoke via Zoom last night in a presentation called "Presidential Polling: Problems and Pitfalls."  You can watch the recorded conversation here.

Gallup has assembled what they're calling their 2020 Election Center and you can see what kinds of metrics they're looking at here.

Related Content