The 2016 US presidential election rattled public confidence in polling. Yet, in the 2020 election cycle, news media is still dominated by the latest polling numbers and a similar consensus that President Donald Trump will not be re-elected. How are polls conducted? What went wrong in 2016? How accurate are they in 2020?

To discuss these issues, USSC hosted a webinar event featuring Dr Courtney Kennedy, Director of Survey Research at the Pew Research Centre in conversation with United States Studies Centre CEO Professor Simon Jackman, co-author of the upcoming brief, “Are pre-election polls accurate?”

Courtney Kennedy is director of survey research at Pew Research Center. In this role, she serves as the chief survey methodologist for the Center, providing guidance on all of its research and leading its methodology work. Prior to joining Pew Research Center, Kennedy served as vice president of the advanced methods group at Abt SRBI. Her work has been published in Public Opinion Quarterly, the Journal of Statistics and Methodology and the Journal of Official Statistics. Courtney chaired the American Association of Public Opinion Research taskforce to evaluate the 2016 US Election polls. 

Professor Simon Jackman commenced as Chief Executive Officer of the United States Studies Centre in April 2016. Jackman’s research has appeared in the leading journals of political science, in a publishing career spanning thirty years. Between 1996 and 2016, he was a Professor of Political Science and Statistics at Stanford University. Jackman served as one of the Principal Investigators of the American National Election Studies, the world’s longest running and most authoritative survey of political behaviour and attitudes, directing this project over both the 2012 and 2016 presidential election cycles.