Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Polling

Polls: you see them everywhere, and not just in politics.
Can you trust them?  (Hint: It depends). How do you tell the good from the bad?
Think Tank cohost Mike O’Neil has spent the last 40 years learning and practicing the craft of survey research (the term pollsters prefer).  It’s his day job.  The Think Tank is what he does for fun.
This week’s Think Tank picks his brain. Mike will walk you through the history of polling, just under a hundred years’ worth:

  • The Literary Digest, thought to be the standard, at least until they picked Alf Landon by a landslide over FDR (oops!)
  • The “1948 Dewey beats Truman” headline. How did that happen? And why was the University of Michigan was the only entity to get that election right?  (And why all polling since has used their core principles).
  • The switch to phones in the 1960s, how pollsters got around the problem of unlisted numbers (that one was easy) and how they are dealing with cell phones (that one is harder and more expensive).
  • Why you see more junk polls than good ones.
  • What to look for in a good poll. Who does the best polls?
  • What Nate Silver did starting in 2008 and 2012 that was revolutionary—and why the same methods may not work in 2016.

All that and more.

Listen Here: