Why Polling on The 2020 Presidential Election Missed the Mark – The New York Times

November 14, 2020

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Senator Susan Collins did not lead in a single publicly released poll during the final four months of her re-election campaign in Maine. But Ms. Collins, a Republican, won the election comfortably.

Senator Thom Tillis, a North Carolina Republican, trailed in almost every poll conducted in his race. He won, too.

And most polls underestimated President Trump’s strength, in Iowa, Florida, Michigan, Texas, Wisconsin and elsewhere. Instead of winning a landslide, as the polls suggested, Joseph R. Biden Jr. beat Mr. Trump by less than two percentage points in the states that decided the election.

This year’s misleading polls had real-world effects, for both political parties. The Trump campaign pulled back from campaigning in Michigan and Wisconsin, reducing visits and advertising, and lost both only narrowly. In Arizona, a Republican strategist who worked on Senator Martha McSally’s re-election campaign said that public polling showing her far behind “probably cost us $4 or $5 million” in donations. Ms. McSally lost to Mark Kelly by less than three percentage points.

A separate set of changes may involve how the media present polling and whether publications spend as much money on it in the future. “The media that sponsor polls should demand better results because their reputations are on the line,” James A. Baker III, the former secretary of state, wrote in The Wall Street Journal this week.

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By David Leonhardt
Nov. 12, 2020

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/12/us/politics/election-polls-trump-biden.html