The Science (and Art) of Election Polling

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A voter stands at the voting booth as en election worker sits at a Vote Center located at Compton College on the first weekend of early in-person voting on October 25, 2020 in Compton, California. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Major recent polls suggest that former Vice President Joe Biden will defeat President Donald Trump by a decisive margin in next week's election. A simulation by FiveThirtyEight shows Biden winning 88 times in 100, and a model from The Economist puts Biden’s chances of winning the electoral college at 95%. But for the obsessive poll watchers who in 2016 were shocked by Trump's win, today's numbers are fraught. We'll talk about how election polls are constructed, how to interpret them and how methodologies have changed since 2016.


Jane Junn, professor of political science, USC; political expert on public opinion, political behavior, and polling methods and analysis

Paul Mitchell, vice president, Political Data Inc

Matt Baretto, co-founder, Latino Decisions; pollster for the Biden-Harris campaign