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  • Polling titan Gallup has decided to withdraw from the US presidential primaries and may

  • even sit out the general election. Perhaps it’s not too surprising, given that they

  • predicted Mitt Romney would beat Barack Obama in 2012 and instead he lost by about a 4 point

  • margin. Over the past few decades, polling has become increasingly inaccurate. With the

  • upcoming 2016 election it’s important to know, why do polls get it wrong so often?

  • Well, there are a number of reasons why polling accuracy has declined. For one, cell phones

  • are on the rise, while fewer and fewer people use landlines. Why would this be a problem?

  • Cell phones can’t be autodialed according to the 1991 Telephone Consumer Protection

  • Act. In order to call someone’s cell phone, a live person needs to be the one to do it.

  • For every thousand respondents, it takes about 20,000 calls to random numbers, most of which

  • are non working numbers. This is incredibly expensive and as a result, some polls don’t

  • include cell phones. And since younger people, lower income Americans and minority groups

  • often only use cell phones, they are extremely under-represented, compared to older, white

  • people who still rely on landlines.

  • Another problem with polling is the reticence to even state an opinion. Polls now have extremely

  • low response rates. Back in the late 1970’s, an 80% response rate was considered acceptable.

  • By 2012, the Pew Research Center reported that that number had dropped to 9%. Some say

  • this is due to fears over privacy and confidentiality. It’s pretty tough to determine the pulse

  • of a nation when relatively few people seem interested in sharing their opinions.

  • But polling inaccuracy extends past the phone line. Internet polls come with their own set

  • of problems. Most significantly, they do not account for a relevant group of responders.

  • While 93% of 18-29 year olds in the US use the internet, in the 2014 midterm elections,

  • only 13% of that age group showed up to vote. Meanwhile, more likely voters have considerably

  • lower rates of internet use, rendering online polls a poor representation of public opinion.

  • Another huge issue is the influence of early polling. Early polls tend not to correlate

  • with final results, as most respondents have not had the time to learn about new candidates

  • or issues. But those early polls are frequently the only source of information available for

  • preliminary media coverage. So uninformed polls leading to glorified coverage causes

  • a cyclical interest level. Potential respondents see the media talking about early poll frontrunners,

  • which influences them to voice a stronger opinion, and thus possibly skew future polls.

  • Weve already seen this happening in the 2016 primaries. For example, online polls

  • showed that Bernie Sanders was the winner of the first Democratic debate. However in

  • more traditional phone based polls, Hillary Clinton came out ahead.

  • But inaccurate polling isn’t just a problem in the US. The most recent election in the

  • UK predicted that the conservative party would barely win by 1% which could have wreaked

  • havoc on parliament, but election results saw them winning by about 37% to the opposition’s

  • 31%. With so many issues surrounding polling methods, it’s best to take them with a hefty

  • grain of salt.

  • While polling isn’t as reliable as it used to be, you can make up your mind for yourself

  • about upcoming presidential candidates by watching our playlist. If you want to see

  • more of a tongue-in-cheek take on politics, check out my channel Newsy News. Thanks for

  • watching TestTube! Don’t forget to subscribe to our channel so you don’t miss out on

  • new videos.

Polling titan Gallup has decided to withdraw from the US presidential primaries and may

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