Political polls just snapshot in time, not prediction on who will win

Polling has come under criticism in recent years as it has become less accurate, especially for midterm elections.
Published: Nov. 3, 2022 at 7:12 PM MST|Updated: Nov. 3, 2022 at 7:13 PM MST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - As the midterm election nears, if it seems like there’s a lot more polling data, you would not be wrong.

“You’re going to get a poll every hour on the hour up until election day,” said Mike Nobel, the head of research and co-founder of OH Predictive Insights.

Polling has come under criticism and scrutiny in recent years as it has become less accurate, especially for midterm elections. A presidential election year will see a very high turnout. A midterm may see 50 to 55% making it more difficult to predict who will show up at the polls.

Many look for polls to predict winners, but that’s not the case.

“There’s a misconception that polls are truly predictive,” Nobel said. “What polling does, it gives you an early sentiment of support, where the momentum is going in the race.”

But even that job is getting more difficult as more people refuse to answer questions or, in many cases, refuse to answer their cell phones.

“Professional people who do that work have to make 30 or more phone calls in order to get a single response,” said Steve Lynn, a former pollster. “So, it’s become expensive to do telephone polling.”

Noble said sometimes in can be as low as one in a hundred.

In order to have a more reliable poll, pollsters need to know who’s going to turnout, and who’s going to vote.

“The young vote may get fired up by Roe versus Wade or other high notes and they get out and vote,” Noble said. “Again, we haven’t seen that, but that can happen.”

There’s no secret, Republicans hold an edge in Arizona but it depends on who votes. The GOP has the motivation because it’s the “out” party right now nationally and would like to get back on the inside.

“In a midterm election, as we have here, polling is especially fraught because turnout is generally much lower than in a general election,” Noble said. “So it’s difficult to know which party or which voters will turn out, making polling even more difficult.

That, and the abundance of ads on the air and on social media may confuse voters.

“I think people just get overloaded and when they’re overloaded, they do one of two things,” Lynn said. “They don’t vote and that’s a shame.”

Lynn also believes people who are overloaded become one-issue or one-candidate voters.

But those voters should understand, polls are not trying to predict the winner. They are just a snapshot in time.