Are opinion polls accurate? Did they miss the rise of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders? Do they properly measure America's increasingly sharp political and cultural divisions? What's the difference between a well-designed poll conducted with careful methodology and a sloppy opt-in online survey?
Our guest is Gary Langer, an internationally recognized opinion researcher and longtime director of polling at ABC News. He has overseen and analyzed more than 750 surveys on a broad range of topics.
Gary has a passion for numbers and explains what listeners should know about polls. He tells us that surveys taken at least a year ago - when many pundits dismissed Trump as an outlier - clearly showed that his views on banning oversees Muslim visitors and building a wall along border with Mexico had substantial support among Republican voters. Trump led the GOP field throughout the lead-up to the primary season.
"The news media have for far too long indulged themselves in the lazy luxury of being both data hungry and math phobic," Gary tells us. "I would suggest polls are anti-pundit. A good quality poll ... holds a pundit's feet to the fire "
In this episode we get some vital takeaways on how well researched randomized polls are conducted and what changes have been made recently to ensure that a representative sample is reached.