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Election pollsters looking to rebound with 2022 predictions

Wisconsin continues to be one of the toughest states to poll
Posted at 10:41 PM, Nov 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-01 23:41:02-04

GREEN BAY — Each election cycle, political polls offer a chance at a snapshot in time of where a race might stand if voting happened that day.

After the 2016 election saw several polling misses in Wisconsin from the presidential race to the senate election, more attention is being paid to how these polls are performed.

Aaron Weinschenk is a political science professor at University of Wisconsin Green Bay. He says that there are a few methods that have proven to work over the years.

"There's a couple things you can do. You can take a random sample of telephone numbers. More and more polls are doing online samples," said Weinschenk.

Weinschenk says part of the problem with these polls is just how difficult it is to get responses now that people have caller-ID and tend not to pick up calls from unknown numbers.

"If you wanted a sample of 700-800 people across Wisconsin you would have to make 120,000-140,000 dials," says Weinschenk.

Weinschenk says that one of the demographics that should be paid more attention to in polling is education level.

"Sometimes polls might be off in terms of mow many people they're getting who may have less than a college degree or only a college degree. Trying to figure out how to make sure it reflects the population of Wisconsin," said Weinschenk.

Arnold Shober is a professor of government at Lawrence University in Appleton. He says that there's two ways some pollsters have worked to adapt.

"They'll ask things like who is your neighbor voting for because then you don't have to say I'm voting for unpopular candidate x," said Shober.

The other way differs on how pollsters weight by political party. Shober says that for several decades, Democrats have been more willing to respond to polls. Now, these outlets are forced to adapt.

"So you have to over sample Republicans, you have to ask more Republicans who they're going to vote for to get something that balances out," said Shober.

For many of these polling outlets, the months after Election Day will be spent studying if these changes resulted in more accurate results for Wisconsin, or whether our swing state will continue its unpredictable reputation.