2016 - The year political polls died

27 Nov 2016


If only polls were right, Britain would be staying in the European Union and Donald Trump wouldn't be the leader of the free world. But sadly, yet again they got it horribly wrong.


In the days leading up to the U.S election, virtually every poll had Clinton ahead. Reuters, an international news agency, even predicted a colossal 90 per cent chance of a Democrat victory.


So what went so horribly wrong?


It can be attributed, in part, to ‘closet’ Trump and Brexit supporters - the idea that people aren't honest with the pollsters and say one thing to them and do the opposite on polling day. Or, people change their minds, potentially based on debates or news stories closer to the election.


However, the fatal mistake was ignoring those who haven't voted in the past, along with a massive underestimation of those white, nativist voters.


Some argue these points don't address the big issue of the process of polling itself being innately flawed. 


Pollsters don't access enough voters. Have you ever been polled? Do you know anyone that has? Presumably not. They've got it wrong time and time again and now lack credibility.


Polling now provides substance to people's annoyance and dissatisfaction of 'the experts'.


Twenty years ago, polling firms got about one-third of respondents on the phone. That number has been in steep decline, as many no longer use landlines and are now harder to contact. This, coupled with the fact voters are now increasingly volatile as they become detached from parties they traditionally supported, means 2016 could well and truly signal the death of the political poll.







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