Pollsters are still searching for improved ways of conducting political surveys as the upcoming midterm elections approach, with some expressing concerns about how polls are viewed by the average voter.
Republican Party pollster Jim McLaughlin claimed in an interview with the Washington Times that media companies "purposely" miss GOP respondents "to tamp down on Republican support."
He went on to say that pollsters should use voter lists instead of random sampling groups, as well as multiple different methods of contacting potential respondents.
"It costs us like thousands of dollars just to build the list to make sure we've got a good sample," McLaughlin said. "Good polling is expensive."
He went on to claim that polls from media organizations or those released to the public are "almost expressly for propaganda."
McLaughlin said, "It's for the press; it's for donors, it's to show people, Hey, we're winning, or Hey, we're gaining."
He added, "I believe that we're going to see a lot of the same mistakes replicated in 2022. The midterms are harder to do survey work just because you're not quite sure who's going to show up. And in this environment, guys with turnout models and weighted averages are inclined to use them more generously."
John Cluverius, associate director of the Center for Public Opinion at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, told the Times that there is no one formula that can be consistently applied to every poll, and noted that his own organization conducted accurate polls of some states in 2020 and less accurate polls of others.
"What regular consumers of news and regular consumers of polling information should know is most pollsters out there are doing the best they can with the resources they have," Cluverius said. "If they are being open and transparent about their methodology, about what went right and what went wrong, that is the most we could ask for."
He also pointed out that the current political environment presents a unique challenge for pollsters at the present because many large groups of people have encountered diverging economies.
"We're trying to apply all these textbook rules to a situation that isn't described in any textbook," he added.
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