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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.

Lisa Johnson started her broadcast career anchoring the television news at her high school and spinning country music at KWWK/KOLM Radio in Rochester, Minnesota. She was a reporter and news anchor at KTHI in Fargo, ND (not to mention the host of a children's program called "Lisa's Lane") and a radio reporter and anchor in Moorhead, Bismarck, Wahpeton and Fergus Falls.Since 1991, she has hosted Northland Morning on KUMD. One of the best parts of her job includes "paying it forward" by mentoring upcoming journalists and broadcasters on the student news team that helps produce Northland Morning. She also loves introducing the different people she meets in her job to one another, helping to forge new "community connections" and partnerships.Lisa has amassed a book collection weighing over two tons, and she enjoys reading, photography, volunteering with Animal Allies Humane Society and fantasizing about farmland. She goes to bed at 8pm, long before her daughter, two cats, or three dogs.
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