Most polls show Donald Trump losing big time, especially in the crucial battleground states. But the L.A. Times poll shows Trump ahead of Clinton by two points, a fact heralded by the Trump campaign. So why are that poll’s results so different?
Most polls ask people who they are going to vote for. The L.A. Times poll, designed by USC social scientists, is not so straightforward. It asks a pre-selected group, used for other research purposes, to rate on a scale from 0-100 their chances of voting for a particular candidate. Then the results are weighted for demographics, which is usual, but then also weighted for how the respondents voted in the 2012 election.
The Times admits that the result is that Republicans are probably over-represented. I would add that the 0-100 scale isn’t going to tell us much if respondents are ambivalent about both candidates. But I think this is also an example of social scientists overthinking their task and trying to come up with a methodology that is so sophisticated that it is unlikely to work. But maybe it will. We’ll know in November. [Read more…]