The Mechanics of Election Polls #AAPOR 


Live note taking at #AAPOR in Austin Texas. Any errors or bad jokes are my own.

Moderator: Lisa Drew, two.42.solutions 
RAND 2016 Presidential Poll Baseline Data – PEPS; Michael S. Pollard, RAND Corporation Joshua Mendelsohn, RAND Corporation Alerk Amin, RAND Corporation

  • RAND is nonprofit private company
  • 3000 people followed at six points throughout the election, starting with a full baseline survey in December, before candidates really had an effect, opinions of political issues, of potential candidates, attitudes towards a range of demographic groups, political affiliation and prior voting, a short personality questionnaire
  • Continuously in field at first debate
  • RDD but recruited RDD and then offered laptops or Internet service if needed
  • Asked people to say their chance of voting, and of voting for democrat, republican, someone else, out of 100% 
  • Probabilistic polling gives an idea of where people might vote
  • In 2012 it was one of the most accurate popular vote systems
  • Many responders a have been surveyed since 2006 providing detailed profiles and behaviors
  • All RAND data is publicly available unless it’s embargoed 
  • Rated themselves and politicians on a liberal to conservative scale
  • Perceptions of candidates have chanced, Clinton, Cruz, and average democrat more conservative now, trump more liberal now; sanders, kasich, average republican didn’t move at all
  • Trump supporters more economically progressive than Cruz supporters
  • Trump supporters concerned about immigrants and support tax increases for rich
  • If they feel people like me don’t have a say in government, they are more likely to support trump
  • Sanders now rates higher than Clinton on “cares about people like me”
  • March – D was 52% and R was 40%, but we are six months aware from an election
  • Today – Clinton is 46% and Trump is 35%
  • Didn’t support trump in December but now do – Older employed white men born in US 
  • People who are less satisfied in life in 2014 more likely to support rump now
  • Racial resentment, white racists predict trump support [it said white ethnocentrism but I just can’t get behind hiding racism is pretty words]

Cross-national Comparisons of Polling Accuracy; Jacob Sohlberg, University of Gothenburg Mikael Gilljam, University of Gothenburg

  • Elections are really great [ made me chuckle, good introduction🙂 ]
  • Seen a string of failures in many different countries, But we forget about accurate polls, there is a lot of variability
  • Are some elections easier than other? Is this just random variance? [well, since NO ONE uses probability sampling, we really don’t know what MOSE and MONSE is. ]
  • Low turnout is a problem 
  • Strong civil society has higher trust and maybe people will be more likely to answer a poll honestly
  • Electoral turnover causes trouble, when party support goes up and down constantly
  • Fairness of elections, when votes are bought, when processes and systems aren’t perfect and don’t permit equal access to voting
  • 2016 data
  • Polls work better when turnout is high, civil society is Truong, electoral stability is high, vote buying is low [we didn’t already know this?]
  • Only electoral turmoi is statistically significant in the Multivariate analysis

Rational Giving? Measuring the Effect of Public Opinion Polls on Campaign Contributions; Dan Cassino, Fairleigh Dickinson University

  • Millions of people have given donations, it’s easier now than ever before with cell phone and Internet donations
  • Small donors have given more than the large donors
  • Why is Bernie not winning when he has consistently out raised Hillary
  • What leads people to give money
  • Wealthy people don’t donate at higher rates
  • It’s like free to play apps – need to really push people to go beyond talking about it and then pay for it
  • Loyalty base giving money to the candidate they like, might give more to her if they see her struggling
  • Hesitancy based only give if they know they are giving to the right and iodate, so they wait
  • Why donate when your candidate seems to be winning
  • Big donors get cold called but no one gets personality phone calls if you’re poor
  • Horse race coverage is rational, coverage to people doing well, don’t really know about their policies
  • Lots of covereage on Fox News doesn’t mean someone is electable
  • People look at cues like that differently
  • In 2012 sometimes saw 5 polls every day, good for poll aggregators not good for people wanting to publicize their poll
  • You want a dynamic race for model variance
  • Used data from a variety of TV news shows, Fox, ABC, CBS, NBC
  • Don’t HAVE to report donation under $200, many zero dollar contributions – weirdness needed to be cleaned out
  • Predict contributions will increase when Romney is threatened in the polls
  • Predict small contributions will increase in response to good coverage on Fox News
  • Fox statements matter for small contributors, doesn’t matter which direction
  • Network news doesn’t matter for small contributors
  • Big donor are looking for more electable candidates so if fox hates them then we know they’re electable and they get more money
  • Romney was a major outlier though, the predictions worked differently for him
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