With the election 1 week away, can Americans trust polling data?

A woman submits her ballot to an official ballot drop box in Santa Monica, October 11, 2020. Photo by Brian Hardzinski/KCRW

The U.S. Senate on Monday night confirmed Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. Afterward, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham went on Fox News to take a victory lap of sorts — and ask for money:  

“Amy Barrett is probably a beneficiary from the [Brett] Kavanaugh hearings. It blew up in their face. The American people hated what they did to Kavanaugh. So I think they were more respectful to Judge Barrett. But let me just say this: The Internet is on fire tonight. They are raising money like crazy to take back the Senate and beat President Trump. … My opponent’s raised $109 million — the most in the history of the United States Senate. Let’s all fight back together. But let’s celebrate tonight.”

Graham is locked in a tight reelection battle in South Carolina with Democratic challenger Jamie Harrison. Real Clear Politics says the race is now a toss-up. Graham won it by nearly 16 points when he was last up for reelection.

Arizona was once conservative Barry Goldwater country, and now it’s trending for Joe Biden. The state could also see a pair of Democrats in the U.S. Senate for the first time in 70 years — if astronaut Mark Kelly defeats incumbent Martha McSally. Kelly’s wife is former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who was shot and nearly killed at a campaign event in 2011.

A CNBC poll out today shows Biden with an 11-point lead over Trump. But  Democrats are wary because during this time in 2016, an ABC News poll had Hillary Clinton leading by double digits. Clinton did win the popular vote, but pollsters missed a lot, like last-minute voters who went for Trump in swing states. 

This year, it’s tough to say how the pandemic will affect which voters turn out and when. 

But one of the glaring flaws revealed four years ago was that pollsters relied too heavily on college-educated voters who were often Clinton supporters. And they didn’t adjust for less educated voters who turned out for Trump. 

New Yorker: Can We Trust the Polls?

Credits

Guest:
Sue Halpern - staff writer The New Yorker

Host:
Madeleine Brand

Producers:
Sarah Sweeney, Michell Eloy, Amy Ta, Rosalie Atkinson, Brian Hardzinski, Angie Perrin, Nihar Patel