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How do polls work? (W. Post)

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How do polls work, and who even gets on the electoral college? Your questions, answered.

Q: Polls seem to be taken all the time, but who is interviewed? Are polls truly representative of voters’ opinions?

A: Polls are a useful but imperfect way to capture the mood of a particular group of people. The first thing to know about polls is that they provide a snapshot in time. They are not predictive of what will happen in the future. The second thing to know is polls are conducted by sampling the population, and then weighting the responses to reflect population and demographics. Some pollsters have higher standards for how they do this than others. It’s why at The Washington Post, we’ll only share polls that have the best chance of statistically representing a population. Read more on how polls work — and why they disappointed in recent presidential elections — from this 2020 analysis from The Post’s polling team, Scott Clement and Emily Guskin.


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