2016 is the year of the US presidential election. Prepare to be besieged by polls. The embarrassment of the 2015 UK parliamentary election predictions is a distant memory. We get to start over.
However, Mona Chalabi reminds us, via the Guardian’s Datablog, of the challenges facing pollsters. She lists five:
- The media are fallible. They follow fashion and make the news.
- Journalists are fallible. They are biased—just like the rest of us.
- Predicting the future is hard. Context shifts.
- It’s difficult to reach people. There’s no longer a household landline.
- People don’t want to be polled. The few who do probably have something in common.
That’s a pretty damning list—and it’s far from exhaustive.
Of course, if we don’t have poll results we’ll have to have news stories about the issues…and who’s got time for that?