The American Association for Public Opinion Research thinks the polls predicting results of the presidential election “clearly got it wrong this time,” and is determined to find out why.
The association examines the state of public polling after each election cycle, and has a plan in place to do it again in what could determine whether or not the industry can continue to be trusted.
So why did the industry whiff? The association lists contributing factors including shy Trump supporters, voter turnout, a tightening race, and not enough polls — all of which will be investigated.
“I think it was an important polling miss. It would really be glossing over it to say that it was a typical year,” director of survey research at the Pew Research Center Courtney Kennedy told the Associated Press.
Most polls had Hillary Clinton winning the election, but Kennedy told the AP that people sometimes expect too much of election polls, which “are not designed to provide extremely accurate results.”
Nate Silver, who is considered the face of the polling industry, called all 50 states correctly as recently as 2012 and was closer to getting 2016 right than most of his competitors and he is still being ripped across the media and political landscape.
“Nate was arrogant. His numbers were all over the place. The title of ‘guru’ is now gone,” The Hill media reporter Joe Concha told TheWrap. He said Silver’s career will survive, but “never again will he be held in any revered regard.”
On Monday, Silver predicted that Trump had a 1-in-3 chance of defeating Hillary Clinton. Some other pundits thought Silver was being too generous: Huffington Post Washington bureau chief Ryan Grim accused him of “putting his thumb on the scales” to give Trump a better chance of wining.
(Grim tweeted an apology to Silver on Election Night, saying there was “far more uncertainty than we were accounting for.”)
Some industry experts think the entire polling dynamic gives voters a false sense of how an election will turn out.
“You’re taking imprecise estimates and throwing them all together with the hope of eliminating error,” Marist College Institute for Public Opinion director Lee Miringoff told the AP.
Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, told the AP, “One of the biggest problems that polls face nowadays is that people don’t want to participate in them at all.”