Vol. 83 No. 1 (2020)
Articles

Pollster problems in the 2016 US presidential election: vote intention, vote prediction

Natalie Jackson
Public Religion Research Institute, Washington, DC, USA
Michael S. Lewis-Beck
Department of Political Science, University of Iowa, USA
Charles Tien
Department of Political Science, Hunter College & The Graduate Center, CUNY, USA
Published July 28, 2020
Keywords
  • Forecasting,
  • polling,
  • research methods,
  • elections,
  • voting
How to Cite
Jackson, N., Lewis-Beck, M. S., & Tien, C. (2020). Pollster problems in the 2016 US presidential election: vote intention, vote prediction. Quaderni dell’Osservatorio Elettorale. QOE - IJES, 83(1), 17-28. https://doi.org/10.36253/qoe-9529

Abstract

In recent US presidential elections, there has been considerable focus on how well public opinion can forecast the outcome, and 2016 proved no exception. Pollsters and poll aggregators regularly offered numbers on the horse-race, usually pointing to a Clinton victory, which failed to occur. We argue that these polling assessments of support were misleading for at least two reasons. First, Trump voters were sorely underestimated, especially at the state level of polling. Second, and more broadly, we suggest that excessive reliance on non-probability sampling was at work. Here we present evidence to support our contention, ending with a plea for consideration of other methods of election forecasting that are not based on vote intention polls.