Polls, be damned. The media keeps track of the polls, voters want to hear the latest polls and politicians seem to live by the polls, but a Princeton University professor says we probably shouldn’t be paying attention to the polls.
Dr. Sam Wang, a neuroscientist at Princeton, recently tweeted a “remarkably flat graph” showing expected Joe Biden votes versus Trump votes. In a second tweet, Wang said, “…the point being that the intense emotionality of this year’s race is accompanied not by volatility in numbers, but a hunkering-down. Whatever happens next Tuesday (and afterward), virtually nobody is changing their minds.”
Wang is an election forecaster at the Princeton Election Consortium. As a poll aggregator, he puts the results of hundreds of polls through a model he created and then predicts election outcomes.
Wang’s analysis of polling for the 2020 presidential election is based on experience. In 2016, he miscalled the election. At the time, Wang predicted that Hillary Clinton would win. He estimated her odds of winning at 99 percent, Pacific Standard Magazine reported.
But in 2012, Wang predicted the election outcome better than pretty much anyone else.
Wang said his misstep in the Clinton-Trump battle for the White House was probably caused by an unusually high number of undecided and third-party voters.
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“I made a mistake,” he said. “I think the fundamental factor that made everyone wrong — and I should say, everyone wrong on both sides — was this polling error.
“I compounded that error by being excessively certain. I underestimated the amount of uncertainty that was present in the home stretch. I thought that the polling error would be one point or less, and, in the end, the polling error was four points.”