Speed Reads

grain of salt

Are polls vastly underestimating conservative voters?

The United States isn't safe from problems with political polling, if the election results in countries such as Britain, Poland, and Israel are any indication. In the past year, polls across the world have vastly underestimated right-wing turnout, in part because those "who refuse to tell you what they're doing are disproportionately likely to vote Conservative," John Curtice, the president of the British Polling Council, says.

"The industry has a collective failure problem. It's now a mix of random-digit dialing — that is, telephone polls — and internet-based polls based on recruited panels," Curtice elaborated to The New York Times. As such, polls in Britain during the last election greatly underestimated how many seats the Conservative Party ended up winning, warranting a hard look by analysts afterward as to where their methods went wrong. Likewise, in Poland, a candidate who was never ahead in the major polls ended up winning the election.

And if that doesn't keep pollsters up at night, another sleeper group might: millennials. Because of their unreliable voting habits, "the uncertainty will be with the millennials” in 2016, longtime Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg says.