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American Association for Public Opinion Research

AAPOR to Examine 2016 Presidential Election Polling

CHICAGO, IL, November 9, 2016 – Election years present particularly high profile moments for public opinion and survey research. This is a time when polls dominate the media and the accuracy of polls can be confirmed or refuted by the actual poll vote outcome.
The polls clearly got it wrong this time and Donald J. Trump is the projected winner in the Electoral College.  Although Clinton may actually win the popular vote, her margin is much lower than the 3 to 4 percent lead the polls indicated.  And many of the state polls overestimated the level of support for Clinton.
There is much speculation today about what led to these errors and already the chorus of concerns about a “crisis in polling” have emerged as headlines on news and social media sites. As final results continue to be tabulated it would be inappropriate for us to participate in conjecture.
Pre-election polling is critical to the industry. Such polling can support the democratic process and it offers a very public opportunity to showcase the benefits, and weaknesses, of survey research. Therefore, understanding and being able to articulate the overall outcomes of election polling, the changing methodologies being used, and the potential for variation in the accuracy of polls is vital for the industry.
As it has done in the last several elections, AAPOR has already convened a panel of survey research and election polling experts to conduct a post-hoc analysis of the 2016 polls. The goal of this committee is to prepare a report that summarizes the accuracy of 2016 pre-election polling (for both primaries and the general election), reviews variation by different methodologies, and identifies differences from prior election years.
The committee was convened in April 2016 and is chaired by Courtney Kennedy (of the Pew Research Center) and includes Scott Clement (Washington Post), Kristen Olson (University of Nebraska-Lincoln), Claire Durand (University of Montreal), Lee Miringoff (Marist College), Doug Rivers (YouGov), Josh Clinton (Vanderbilt University),  Mark Blumenthal (SurveyMonkey), Chris Wlezien (University of Texas), Kyley McGeeney (Pew Research Center), Evans Witt (PSRAI and President of NCPP), Charles Franklin (Pollster.com and University of Wisconsin), and Lydia Saad (Gallup). The committee should have completed its work by May of 2017. 
About AAPOR: The leading professional organization, representing over 2,000 public opinion and survey research professionals. AAPOR understands that journalists play a critical role as gatekeepers for the flow of opinion information. We will continue to provide free resources such as the free online course on Understanding and Interpreting Polls, Election Polling Resources and many others  to help sort through the deluge of survey and polling data.
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