Pre-election polls in 2020 had the largest errors in 40 years

Public opinion polls ahead of the 2020 election were the most inaccurate in a generation, according to Josh Clinton, Abby and Jon Winkelried Chair and professor of political science, who recently served as chair of a special task force convened by the American Association for Public Opinion Research specifically to evaluate polling. The task force found that polling during the two weeks before the election overstated support for then-Democratic nominee Joe Biden by 3.9 percentage points, which was the largest polling error since 1980 when support for Democratic nominee Jimmy Carter was overestimated by 6 percentage points. The presidential election between Biden, the eventual winner, and incumbent president Donald Trump was much closer than polling had indicated. A report detailing the task force’s discoveries and conclusions is here.

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