National: Poll Watch: Overseas Elections Offer Warnings for U.S. Pollsters | The New York Times
Pre-election polls in numerous countries this year have widely missed their marks, often by underestimating support for candidates on the ideological fringes. The polling failures in countries like Britain, Poland and Israel point to technical issues that could well foreshadow polling problems in the United States, many analysts believe. “The industry has a collective failure problem,” said John Curtice, the president of the British Polling Council and a professor of politics at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow. Partly this is the result of changing methodologies. “It’s now a mix of random-digit dialing — that is, telephone polls — and Internet-based polls based on recruited panels,” he said. Both modes present potential problems. Opinion polls in advance of Britain’s general election in May severely underestimated the number of seats that Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative Party would win. After the election, the polling council called for an independent inquiry into what had caused the error. The council plans to release its findings in mid-January, a report that will be closely read by pollsters in Britain and around the globe.