The Pew polling group admits it was stumped by last November’s U.S. presidential election. The results “came as a surprise to nearly everyone who had been following the national and state election polling.” Most pollsters put Hillary Clinton’s chances of defeating Donald Trump at 70 to 99 percent.
Few will care if fashion critics call the hemlines wrong this season. But election pollsters consider their work both important and scientific: “Polling is an art, but it’s largely a scientific endeavor,” says Michael Link, president and chief executive of the Abt SRBI polling firm in New York City and former president of the American Association for Public Opinion Research.2 That perception may help explain preeminent science journal Nature’s account of scientists being “stunned” and reacting to the results with “fear and disbelief.”
But the scientists’ response raises a question: Was the badly missed prediction a failure of the scientific method, or is opinion polling just not a science anyway?More.
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