More than six months after the astonishing polling embarrassment in the 2020 U.S. elections, survey experts examining what went wrong are uncertain about what led to the sharpest discrepancy between the polls and popular vote outcome since Ronald Reagan defeated Jimmy Carter in a near-landslide in 1980.
Lingering questions about the misfire in 2020, in which voter support for then-President Donald Trump was understated in final pre-election polls, suggest that troubles in accurately surveying presidential elections could be deeper and more profound than previously recognized. If the source of the polling miscall isn’t clear, then addressing and correcting it obviously becomes quite challenging.
Moreover, as I discussed in my 2020 book “Lost in a Gallup,” polling failures in presidential elections since 1936 rarely have been repetitive. Just as no two elections are alike, no two polling failures are quite the same.