Evaluating Pre-Election Polling Estimates using a New Measure of Non-Ignorable Selection Bias
Brady T. West, Survey Methodology Program
October 12, 2022
Join via Zoom:
Meeting ID: 99290637991
Meeting Password: 1949
Among the numerous explanations that have been offered for recent errors in pre-election polls, selection bias due to non-ignorable partisan nonresponse bias, where the probability of responding to a poll is a function of the candidate preference that a poll is attempting to measure (even after conditioning on other relevant covariates used for weighting adjustments), has received relatively less focus in the academic literature. Under this type of selection mechanism, estimates of candidate preferences based on individual or aggregated polls may be subject to significant bias, even after standard weighting adjustments. Until recently, methods for measuring and adjusting for this type of non-ignorable selection bias have been unavailable. Fortunately, recent developments in the methodological literature have provided political researchers with easy-to-use measures of non-ignorable selection bias. In this study, we apply a new measure that has been developed specifically for estimated proportions to this challenging problem. We analyze data from 18 different pre-election polls: nine different telephone polls conducted in eight different states prior to the U.S. Presidential election in 2020, and nine different pre-election polls conducted either online or via telephone in Great Britain prior to the 2015 General Election. We rigorously evaluate the ability of this new measure to detect and adjust for selection bias in estimates of the proportion of likely voters that will vote for a specific candidate, using official outcomes from each election as benchmarks and alternative data sources for estimating key characteristics of the likely voter populations in each context.