Every election presents different challenges to pollsters. In the past few years, such obstacles have included declining response rates to phone polling and among some Republican or conservative respondents — a sampling issue — and trouble identifying the likely electorate in the face of high turnout — a weighting issue. These difficulties helped contribute to larger-than-average polling errors in the 2020 presidential election, four years after pollsters also had a worse-than-typical year in 2016 (although for primarily different reasons). Despite enjoying notably more accurate results in the 2018 and 2022 midterms, pollsters this year are once again contending with a common denominator of the 2016 and 2020 cycles: now-former President Donald Trump, who is this year’s presumptive GOP presidential nominee.

SSRS Chief Methodologist, Cameron McPhee, shares insights about the methodological challenges facing pollsters in today’s unpredictable political landscape.