Polls, voters and election 2020: A&S webinar on Oct. 19

Excitement – and anxiety – about the 2020 election ratchets higher with the release of each new poll and prediction. But polls don’t tell the whole story and many forecasts in 2016 were proved wrong: what can we expect this year?

In “Between the Polls: How Voters Decide,” a webinar held on Oct. 19 at 7 p.m., a panel of experts examined how we learn about voters and their decisions and how those data drive election forecasts. They also explored how polling is covered in the media and methods journalists use to gauge voter interest. The webinar was organized through the Distinguished Visiting Journalist Program in the College of Arts and Sciences (A&S). 

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“To describe this election cycle as unusual and consequential may be an understatement. We’re fortunate to have world-class experts who can shed light on how voters are making their choices and how the media are reporting on those decisions,” said Ray Jayawardhana, the Harold Tanner Dean of Arts and Sciences. “Journalists work hard to assess and report on voter interest, but their coverage can have its own impact on voter decisions.”

Marc Lacey ’87, national editor for The New York Times and the 2020 Distinguished Visiting Journalist, was one of four panelists.

"Polls are a critical way of understanding the sentiment of voters in the lead up to an election,” said Lacey. “But this feels like a presidential election with so many unknowns, and it is not likely that journalists will be finished covering who won on election eve."

The other four panelists, all A&S faculty, were:

The panel was moderated by Douglas Kriner, the Clinton Rossiter Professor in American Institutions in the Department of Government (A&S) and faculty director of IOPGA.

Co-hosted by the College of Arts & Sciences and the IOPGA, the webinar was supported by Alumni Affairs and Development and powered by eCornell.

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