We also asked pollsters what, if anything, they were still worried about in 2020, regarding either their own polls or the polling industry writ large. Interestingly — but perhaps unsurprisingly, given all the work they’ve put into avoiding the errors of 2016 — only one pollster, Gravis Marketing’s president, Doug Kaplan, told us he is worried about missing “the so-called hidden Trump vote.”
In fact, Marist’s Miringoff is worried about the opposite: “I’m concerned that the industry may be fighting the last war.” To Miringoff, the obsession with weighting polls by education has obscured other underlying problems, such as a heavier reliance on listed telephone numbers or online methods rather than the traditional method of polling people: random-digit dialing, which Miringoff and many other established pollsters believe results in more of a truly representative sample.
Two other pollsters had a different view, though. “What I worry about as a whole for the polling industry is this continued belief that live phone polls are the gold standard,” Cygnal’s CEO, Brent Buchanan, told us. SurveyUSA’s Leve agreed. “I make no case that the online research studies that SurveyUSA conducts are superior to those conducted by a different methodology,” he said. “But I do argue that they are not inherently inferior.” (FiveThirtyEight’s own research has found that, while live-caller polls face undeniable challenges, they remain more accurate than online polls.)