Skip to main content
Politics Podcast: The Gold Standard For Polling Has Changed

On Thursday, we launched our updated pollster ratings here at FiveThirtyEight. While they showed that polls have not become markedly less accurate in recent years, they did have a pretty bad 2020. Our analysis also found that a longtime truism in polling — that surveys using live callers are more accurate — is no longer true. Comparing live-caller polls with online surveys, text messaging, automated calls and mixed methods, the former is not systematically likelier to reflect the final result of an election.

In this installment of the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast, editor in chief Nate Silver talks to Galen Druke about why the gold standard of polling has changed and what this means going forward. With the benefit of hindsight (and updated pollster ratings), they also assess how polls performed in 2019 and 2020 in general.

You can listen to the episode by clicking the “play” button in the audio player above or by downloading it in iTunes, the ESPN App or your favorite podcast platform. If you are new to podcasts, learn how to listen.

The FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast is recorded Mondays and Thursdays. Help new listeners discover the show by leaving us a rating and review on iTunes. Have a comment, question or suggestion for “good polling vs. bad polling”? Get in touch by email, on Twitter or in the comments.

Galen Druke is FiveThirtyEight’s podcast producer and reporter.

Nate Silver is the founder and editor in chief of FiveThirtyEight.