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Where Did You Get This Number? by Anthony Salvanto
August 23, 2018 at 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
How did pollsters get the 2016 election so wrong? In his new book, CBS News’s director of elections and surveys, Anthony Salvanto, tries to answer that complex question, explaining how modern polling is conducted and discussing the challenges its practitioners face. He gives us a quick primer before hitting town to promote the book (free).
Where They Whiffed
The Midwest. Pollsters didn’t do enough research in states such as Wisconsin and Michigan—which unexpectedly swung to Trump—because they didn’t expect that the final numbers would be different from earlier results. “Well,” Salvanto says, “it turns out they were different.”
Who They Missed
So-called Reluctant Republicans, who made up about 10 percent of the party in certain states. These voters initially told pollsters they were unsure whom they would vote for, or whether they’d vote at all. “It made some narrative sense that those Republican voters might never come back [to Trump]. In fact, they did.”
What They Should Fix
For the next election, Salvanto thinks it will be necessary to do a lot more research, especially in places where pollsters believe they already know what’s going on. “If you don’t go out there and talk to people—which is our central mission as pollsters—then you risk missing something.”
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