Political polls – level 3

03-05-2024 07:00

Despite their popularity, political polls often seen on TV during elections, sometimes give inaccurate results, and some Americans question their trustworthiness.

In both 2016 and 2020, most national polls overestimated support for Democrats. Polls aim to show what people think at a certain time but can be tricky to predict future outcomes accurately.  Mallory Newall explains that reliable polls focus on understanding public opinions rather than just predicting election winners. She warns against reading too much into small differences in polls, especially far from election day. Red flags for bad polls include not representing the right people and not being clear about how the data was collected.

Polling methods have changed since 2016, with more surveys done online. Online surveys may influence results; however, concerns remain about reaching everyone, especially in rural areas without good internet. Although there are challenges, polls remain important for understanding public opinion.

Difficult words: overestimate (to guess an amount that is too high or a size that is too big), outcome (the way a thing turns out), red flag (a sign that something bad is happening or could happen).

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What changes have been made in polling methods since 2016, and what challenges do pollsters still face in accurately representing public opinion?


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