GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - He's ahead, she's ahead. They're in a dead heat. It all depends on where you look.
The question is -- how do you know what to believe? Polls can swing a voter’s perception of an election but the problem is knowing which ones are accurate.
ABC has Trump up by one. Fox has Clinton up by three and NBC has Clinton up by six.
Numbers, numbers, numbers. So many numbers.
“You see these polls, they’re polling democrats. Oh, Trump is down. They’re polling democrats,” says Republican nominee Donald Trump at a rally of his supporters.
That statement might actually be true. When you see a poll you have to be conscious of who is being polled.
“Suppose I cared about how many hours a week Hamline students studied. What I could do is pick a Saturday night and walk over to the library and ask people how many hours a week they studied. Well, I would certainly have a bias because I wouldn’t have all the other student s who were doing other activities on that Saturday night,” says Hamline Mathematics Professor Arthur Guetter.
So, how do you know what to take at face value and what to take with a grain of salt? Do we need to do more work as consumers to get the answers?
“Well, you should always take everything you read with a grain of salt. You know, read the fine print,” says Guetter.
“The first thing you should do is look at the margin of error, and if possible, not every poll gives you this information, but most of the time you get to the bottom of the article, they’ll have a link to information about the poll, if not the actual data.”
Guetter’s best advice? Go to a poll aggregator. Those sites tend to take a number of polls and weights them. You can also find out the history of a poll, like how accurate it has been in the past.