Election 2012

As Pundits Try To Read the Polls, the Response Rate Plummets

Good luck calling this one, especially with most Americans hanging-up the phone

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Five firms released national polls of the presidential election over a couple of days late last month, and the results were a head-scratcher for politics buffs: Mitt Romney was winning by a percentage point, losing by a percentage point, winning by five, and losing by five.

Who was right? Who can be trusted amid the welter of conflicting data?

The country could be less than a day away from being able to judge, but at least two conclusions arise from looking at the 2008 presidential election: Some firms were clearly better than others at nailing the final result, and a particularly accurate reading could be gleaned by averaging all the polls together.