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the polls did better than you expected in the 2016 election, but not state polls, they sucked

Remember when everybody said that the polls completely got the 2016 presidential election wrong? Now we have final numbers on the popular vote count, and guess what? The national polls were on target:

However, the state polls sucked. Not too hard, but they did suck a little bit, except Wisconsin and Minnesota, which totally sucked:

This is consistent with conventional wisdom about state polls, which is that they are less reliable because it is hard to pinpoint people in states, hard to identify likely voters, and have smaller electorates that can fluctuate (e.g., voter registration laws or bad weather).

Still, in retrospect, looking at state polls did suggest that a popular vote/electoral vote split was possible. A Trump victory was within the margin of error of the polling average in a number of states such as New Hampshire and Pennsylvania. This observation about state polls is also consistent with the finding that the HRC lead was due to urban centers.

Bottom line: The conventional social science about polls held up. National polls do decently, states polls a bit worse and in some cases badly. However, they was plenty of evidence that Trump might get an electoral college victory, but you had to really read the state polls carefully.

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Written by fabiorojas

January 16, 2017 at 12:11 am

2 Responses

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  1. They actually sicked less if we consider that out of 50 states, 2 or 3 predictions should be beyond the 95‰ confidence interval. so maybe 1 error (Michigan) can be explained by difficulty in getting the right sample.

    Like

    sebastianguzman

    January 17, 2017 at 5:50 am

  2. Fair point.

    Like

    fabiorojas

    January 17, 2017 at 5:15 pm


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