Pew is having a great, transparent discussion about partisan bias in polling across their recent reports. Here are two new ones you should read:


One thing to note, across Pew’s postmortems and others’, is that the “solution” to 2016/2020 seems to be an increased reliance on weighting, more investment in sophisticated sampling techniques, or both — neither of which are readily available to firms without a ton of resources.
High-quality public opinion research is still possible, both online and off, but this means that we should expect more variance in good polls and more bias in bad polls. Not a great situation to be in, and the bandaids being proposed don’t really fix the underlying issues.
To be sure, there are some really smart things being proposed, and some very exciting paths forward. Will have more to say on this tomorrow
Oh, one last thing: It seems likely that the more modeling and weighting pollsters have to do, the harder it becomes to explain how polls work — their tradeoffs and potential for error, especially — to the public. This seems like an under-explored area of research.

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More from @gelliottmorris

10 Apr
Historically speaking, presidents that bucked the polls and ignored the majority — or, worse, used propaganda to manipulate opinion so they could cite polls later — have done more damage than those who just listened to the people most of the time & led when they thought necessary
The criticism of polls that some politicians just blindly follow them to win elections missed the mark. It’s a straw man set up by contrarian opinion columnists, minority lawmakers, and other elites so they can argue against giving the public opinion its proper due in Washington.
The other big argument in the lit — that “leadership” stands in tension with looking at polls — is both a false dichotomy and predicated on the idea that the people make bad judgments and are too dumb for self-government, which isn’t borne out in the scholarship.
Read 7 tweets
7 Apr
Lots of right-leaning commentary on democracy recently has advocated for restricting the franchise to people who are “better” at making decisions, with very little — if any — attention paid to the vast social science literature on this topic. Some things worth thinking about:
Obviously, these arguments are situated in a context of historical racism — whites used the exact same justification to disenfranchise black voters throughout the Jim Crow south. Oh, if they can’t pass literacy tests, why should they get to vote? *wink*
In addition to that, tho:
The fundamental problem with this is that, in a democracy, “majority rules” really is the only legitimate decision rule for government action. You can talk about the dangers of crowds, etc, but those fears are relatively unfounded in representative govs.…
Read 9 tweets
7 Apr
It will be impossible to enact federal laws/rules preventing state election subversion — or at least substantially lowering the risk of it from the current (relatively) high level — so long as Republicans are driving partisan radicalization against democracy and free outcomes.
I view the point from @Nate_Cohn and others that Dems have missed the mark on HR1 bc of an overestimation of harms to turnout as a valid , tho maybe a bit beside the point that the gov cannot pass reasonable remedies so long as (a) our institutions are biased toward a party...
...that (b) views their opponent’s victories as illegitimate regardless of the conditions of their victory. HR1 probably won’t save democracy, but the solution is probably not attainable right now anyway. It is better to go ahead and reduce harms to voters in light of that.
Read 5 tweets
6 Apr
Job approval of Obama, Biden and Trump among whites, from our The Economist/YouGov polling archive
Senior support for Biden is 👀👀
Gen x too!
Read 4 tweets
6 Apr
I do think there's a lot more uncertainty here than people think
For starters, +4 on the generic ballot is probably around where Democrats need to be to keep the House. For another thing, we don't really know how passing a bunch of laws with 70% support and saving the country from the pandemic is going to go politically (but it probably helps)
Biden's approval rating is not where it would normally need to be for Dems to hold the House -- but those past rules probably don't fit right now, given polarization. you can probably pack a similar punch with a lower number these days v in 1950
Read 5 tweets
3 Apr
A blog post: Poli sci only offers limited evidence to forecast the impacts of new voting laws in places like GA & TX.

Regardless of those effects, the fabricated motivation and clear intent to bias outcomes toward the GOP is a necessary part of the story.…
This is my preferred take on voting laws.

Any attempts to restrict the franchise are normatively bad, regardless of their effects. Coverage should reflect that.
To be clear, I think Nate is right on the poli sci evidence he discusses, but other work (cc @hill_charlotte) shows bigger fx and I'm wary of (a) applying it to GA & other states, and (b) conditioning on the worst parts of the law to focus on the numbers.
Read 13 tweets

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