Coronavirus pandemic muddies election and opinion polling

The polling and public opinion research industry has had to delay or alter the way it works amid stay-at-home orders and social distancing measures. Brock McCleary, president of Harper Polling, said he’s confident that polls will still be conducted — he’s working on a few himself — but voter behavior will get more mysterious.

Pollsters typically model turnout using statistical methods to estimate who will be a “likely voter.” However, that gets more difficult amid the pandemic as states postpone election dates and shake up voting methods to prevent the virus’ spread, McCleary said.

“Is it going to change people who are historically nonvoters into voters? Is it going to turn people who are traditionally only general election voters into primary voters because they’re bored?” he said.

McCleary, a GOP pollster, said the polls he has conducted have not seen much movement in fundamental political beliefs, outside of an across-the-board uptick in support for governors.

“It’s anyone’s guess how much staying power [the pandemic] will have except for the cases where the primaries are already on top of them,” McCleary said.

“Are we still going to be dealing with coronavirus in September? October? Is the shadow going to loom that large?” McCleary said.

Coronavirus pandemic muddies election and opinion polling

by Michael Macagnone | Roll Call | April 8, 2020