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The Accuracy of State
Election Polls in 2002

NATIONAL COUNCIL ON PUBLIC POLLS


In the days following the November 5 elections, some media reports questioned the accuracy of state polls. They implied that many polls were off the mark, that telephone polls have become so beset with problems they could no longer be considered reliable.

The National Council on Public Polls believed these conclusions were based on too few cases. They conducted an exhaustive search for final media-sponsored and academic polls taken during the last two weeks of the campaign. Their search of The Polling Report web site and other sources yielded 159 state polls for U.S. Senate and governor -- over 150 more polls than were the basis for the media reports.

The NCPP concluded that the overall performance for most polling organizations in 2002 was very good: (1) the average candidate error for all 159 polls was only 2.4 percentage points; (2) in 84% of cases, the candidate error did not exceed margins of error; and (3) some races may have continued changing after the final polls right up to election day.

For more information, see:
http://www.ncpp.org/

 


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