Can the polls be trusted?

Samuel Northrup, Staff Writer

More than a week after Election Day, the accuracy of polling can be called into question after Republican Donald Trump’s seemingly improbable victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Despite the overwhelming majority of national polls having Clinton winning, the Trump campaign seemed to defy all analysts after winning the Electoral College, while losing the popular vote by only .7 percent, according to CNN’s 2016 Election Results.

The apparent inaccuracy presented by this election cycle’s polls has been attributed to false answers given by polling participants, largely because of the public controversy that continues to surround Donald Trump.

Pollster John Zogby, the founder of Zogby International and a Utica native, believes that these false answers collected in polls are nothing unique.

“It’s no different than it has always been,” Zogby said. “Are there people who lie? Sure. And liars vote. So why shouldn’t they be sampled? Are there people who won’t tell you what they’re going to do? Yeah, they talk to you and say ‘I refuse,’ and you throw it away or they won’t talk to you at all. We’re only as good as the people who talk to us and tell us what they’re going to do, and it works. The polls were not bad, but we need to adjust our expectations though. It’s a story from a random sampling we need to hear.”

While Zogby feels that polls are necessary, students were not as enthusiastic about them due to issues with accuracy.

“I never really trusted polls to begin with because politics are a really sensitive topic, where the person you’re voting for kind of says a lot about you as a person because you agree with what they agree with most of the time,” explained freshman Gabriella Felipe. “So I feel like people are not really honest about who they’re actually going to vote for when it comes to a candidate that’s not really popular.”

Junior Marie Grace felt that the reason why polls were so inaccurate was due to fear of judgement from respondents about their choice.

“I think they underestimated Donald Trump and his supporters,” Grace said. “I feel like it’s one of those things where people don’t want to state what they think, but in private they agree with him in because they don’t want to be judged or misunderstood.”

Despite his emphasis on the importance of polls, Zogby, a proponent of internet polling, does recognize current methods of polling need to change.

“Every institution is changing dramatically, and we all have to, and polling is among them,” Zogby said. “So the old formulas, calling people on the phone, all that’s going to change to online polling, and hopefully people will adjust their expectations and not expect the polls to tell them one thing, ‘who’s gonna win’. That’s just not going to happen. Polling is going to tell us things it always has, the more important sorts of things about who we are, our culture, what’s important to us, the top issues, what presses our buttons. That’s the future.”