Planes rarely crash because one instrument fails or one gauge gives a bad reading. Rather, the right combination of things fail in tandem — a mechanical problem paired with bad weather, a backup system malfunctioning at the same time as a pilot error — leading to catastrophe. The disaster of the 2016 election forecasts is not dissimilar, with a series of mistakes building upon one another to lead prognosticators astray. Pollsters now are sifting through the wreckage to find the black boxes and assess what went wrong in order to prevent it from happening again.
The good news is that at the same moment polling feels a bit broken, there are new tools available for measuring the mood of the people, the tides of public opinion and the swings of an election. These tools — including precise demographic models and social-media data — shouldn’t replace polling. But they could help refine our predictions and our understanding. CONT.
Kristen Soltis Anderson & Patrick Ruffini (Echelon Insights), Washington Post