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Presidential Election Polls Likely To Be More Accurate This Year, Says NIU Professor

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A Northern Illinois University professor says presidential political polls are likely to be more accurate this year than in 2016. 

Political Science professor April Clark said there were several complicating factors in 2016. These included a greater percentage of nonpartisan voters to consider and the timing of their votes.

“In 2016, we had a large percentage of late deciders that broke for Trump, but we don’t have that same pool of undecideds that can break for him," she said. "So the chances of him turning this around are diminishing.” 

Clark said 2016 polls correctly predicted the popular vote result, but underestimated Trump’s support in several battleground states. 

“Where you get volatility is in these states where there’s a larger percentage of undecideds, or independent voters, if you will. And I will say that today, one way to address the deficiencies between 2016 and 2020 is the percentage of undecideds is much smaller today than it was at the same point in 2016.” 

Professor Clark says polls are not crystal balls for election results, but they are effective in communicating public opinion, particularly on individual issues.