Pollsters: Our Predictions Could Be Off

Cell phones, turnout, and prejudice threaten to skew forecasts
By Rebecca Smith Hurd,  Newser User
Posted Oct 9, 2008 8:55 AM CDT
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., mimics talking on the telephone as he answers questions from employees during a campaign stop in Nashua, N.H., Friday, Jan. 4, 2008.   (AP Photo)
camera-icon View 1 more image

(Newser) – Pollsters worry that a growing affinity for cell phones (most surveys rely on landlines), unspoken racial biases, and tough-to-predict turnout among young people and black people could skew their predictions come November, writes Mark Blumenthal in the National Journal. When pollsters "compare notes this year, worry is the prevailing theme," Blumenthal writes.

As it this weren’t enough of a curve ball, pollsters could be preoccupied for nothing. It's possible that these factors will "cancel each other out," says one campaign strategist. For instance, if racial bias surfaces, it could be offset by higher black turnout. So the survey set is doing what it does best—collecting data—in the hopes of readjusting any margins for error and calling the right candidate come Election Day. (Read more poll stories.)