The American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) has released a report analyzing the pre-election polls from the 2020 elections titled “Task Force on 2020 Pre-Election Polling: An Evaluation of the 2020 General Election Polls.” The task force consisted of 19 members chosen to ensure diversity of backgrounds and opinions from various organizations, media outlets, and academic institutions. One of the main points covered in the report relates to polling errors that may have stemmed from issues of noncoverage, nonresponse, or statistical adjustments. The report notes that small errors can add up and have large effects on the predictions of winners. The task force found that in nearly every contest, there was an overstatement of the Democratic-Republican margin in favor of the Democratic candidate.
The AAPOR task force was unable to conclude why the 2020 polling error was so large and widespread; however, they were able to draw a few conclusions from their investigation. According to the report, these errors were not primarily caused by late-deciding voters, failure to weigh by education, incorrect assumptions about the composition of the electorate, reluctance to express support for Trump, incorrect estimates on voter turnout, or too few early voters or Election Day voters. The report states, “it seems plausible that many issues were caused by nonresponse. Nevertheless, it is so far impossible to know the primary issue. Among the possibilities are: too many Democrats and too few Republicans responding to the polls (between-party nonresponse); the Democrats/Republicans who responded had different opinions than those who did not (within-party nonresponse); and new voters and independents unpredictable in terms of both size (too many or too few) and representativeness (i.e., were the new voters who responded similar to those who did not?).”
While the report notes that similar issues with polling errors could occur in future elections, the 2020 election was unique due to its occurrence during a global pandemic and the significant increase in voter turnout. Ultimately, the report concludes it is not possible to predict what will happen in the polls for the next few years but that informing people on the limitations of pre-election polling can aid in decreasing distrust in the polling system from Americans.
The full report and more information can be found on the AAPOR website.
This article was contributed by COSSA’s summer intern, Lillian Chmielewska of the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
The American Academy of Political and Social Science (AAPSS) and Spotlight on Poverty & Opportunity will host a virtual discussion titled “Opportunities to Cut Child Poverty: Understanding the Data and Evidence” on Thursday, June 24 at 2:00 pm ET. The webinar will focus on what is already known about child poverty and how we know it, racial disparities in poverty levels, and what policies and investments can bring us closer to the goal of ending this problem. The speakers will also address current federal policy and proposed legislation, and the potential impact on child poverty in the U.S. More information is available here.
Kathleen A. Cagney, professor of sociology and director of the University of Chicago’s Population Research Center, has been named the next director of the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research (ISR). Cagney will also hold research professorships in ISR’s Survey Research Center and Population Studies Center. Her research examines social inequality and its relationship to health with a focus on neighborhood, race, and aging and the life course. Cagney will succeed David Lam, who has directed the Institute since 2015, and will return to the faculty. She will assume her new position on September 1.
The Social Science Research Council (SSRC), a COSSA member, has named Anna Harvey, a leading scholar of government, law, and inequality, and professor of politics at New York University, as its 15th president and CEO. Dr. Harvey succeeds Alondra Nelson, who has since taken a key role in the Biden Administration’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). Dr. Harvey, a political scientist by training is a founding director of NYU’s Public Safety Lab and also holds appointments as professor of law and of data science. She assumes her new role on July 1.
The American Academy of Political and Social Science (AAPSS) and SAGE Publishing will co-host a Moynihan Prize event on May 13 at 3:00pm ET titled “A Turning Point for International Climate Policy? New Approaches to Environmental and Economic Cooperation.” The event will include a webinar and panel discussion focused on international economic and regulatory approaches to environmental policy Nobel laureate and Moynihan Prize recipient William Nordhaus. The event will take place at 3. More details and information on registration is available here.
The American Academy of Political and Social Science (AAPSS), a COSSA member, has announced the selection of Dr. Marta Tienda as its next president. She succeeds Dr. Ken Prewitt, who led the organization since 2015. Dr. Tienda is the Maurice P. During Professor in Demographic Studies and Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs at Princeton University, with joint affiliations in the university’s Office of Population Research and The Princeton School of Public and International Affairs. Her research interests include immigration, population diversification, and concentrated poverty, documenting how social arrangements and life course trajectories both perpetuate and reshape socioeconomic inequality.
The Population Association of America will host a virtual congressional briefing, “Living, Working, Dying: Demographic Insights into COVID-19” on Friday, April 23, 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. ET. The event will feature presentations by prominent population scientists who will present findings on the disparate impacts of COVID, especially as they relate to mortality, education, food insecurity, and family dynamics, and what additional research and data are needed to understand and address its far-reaching effects. The briefing will feature Dr. Noreen Goldman of Princeton University. Dr. Caitlyn Collins of Washington University in St. Louis, Dr. Marc Garcia of the University of Nebraska, and Dr. Anna Gassman-Pines of Duke University. Registration is available here.
The Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD), a COSSA governing member, has announced the selection of Saima K. Hedrick as its next executive director effective April 5. Hedrick comes to SRCD from the Society for the Study of Reproduction, where she has served as executive director for over three years. She will succeed Martha Zaslow, who has been acting as interim executive director.
The American Educational Research Association (AERA), a COSSA governing member, and the Spencer Foundation have released a report, Voices from the Field: The Impact of COVID-19 on Early Career Scholars and Doctoral Students, as part of an ongoing effort to assess and address pressing needs facing scholars and doctoral students during the pandemic. The report’s findings are drawn from a series of focus groups conducted in spring 2020 and are organized into seven themes: (1) Research Impact: Disruptions, Delays, and Adaptations; (2) Impact on Teaching: The Need to Be Inventive, Inclusive, and Intentional; (3) Balancing Acts: Negotiating Family, Home, Community, and Professional Life; (4) The Emergence of a Dual Pandemic and Confronting Racism; (5) Employment Trajectories, Uncertainties, and Deferments; (6) Institutional (In)Capacity to Respond and Support; and (7) Emerging and Lost Connections, Communities, and Communication. The full report is available on the AERA website. AERA and the Spencer Foundation plan to release a second report later in 2021 that focuses on findings from a major national survey on the experiences and concerns of early career scholars and doctoral students in education research.
The American Psychological Association (APA), a COSSA governing member, has announced the selection of Mitchell Prinstein as its new Chief Science Officer. Prinstein, who is slated to transition into the role starting March 1, is the John Van Seters distinguished professor of psychology and neuroscience and assistant dean of Honors Carolina at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, another COSSA member. More information is available in the full press release on the APA website.