Nate Silver: Our Political Polls Are in Lousy Shape

UK elections are just the latest example, he writes
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 8, 2015 12:32 PM CDT
Nate Silver: Our Political Polls Are in Lousy Shape
The polls predicted that Ed Miliband would have a much better night in Britain.   (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)

Polls predicted a close election in the UK, and the polls were dead wrong. What happened? "The World May Have a Polling Problem," asserts the headline of a post by poll-assessing whiz Nate Silver at His site's forecast, based on those lousy polls, was way off, and Silver writes that it's not an isolated incident. Polls ahead of the 2014 midterms, Scotland's referendum on independence, the Israeli elections, and even the 2012 presidential race were considerably skewed as well. On the latter, President Obama beat the polling averages by 3 points, which may not sound like much, but if it had gone the other way, we might be addressing President Romney today.

Silver cites a number of possible factors, including vanishing landlines that make voters harder to contact, along with more wonky problems such as pollsters ditching "probability sampling" or holding back results that differ with other surveys. All in all, "there may be more difficult times ahead for the polling industry," writes Silver. (And, consequently, for poll readers such as Silver, points out Dylan Byers at Politico.) Click to read Silver's full post. (More polls stories.)

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