How accurate are political polls?

KHOU 11 reporter Marcelino Benito looks into how political polls are conducted, who is participating and how accurate are the results.

Several post debate national polls show Hillary Clinton increasing her lead over Donald Trump in the race for the White House.

But after several viewers reached out to us suggesting polls might be skewed, we decided to take a closer look and verify how polls are actually conducted.

"If you do it right, it can very valuable," said political strategist, Chris Begala. "But if you do it wrong, it can be worthless."

Begala says you have to take a close look at the fine print on how polls are conducted.

For example, the week's first post-debate NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll had Clinton up 11 points 46 to 35, but they only questioned 500 people.

"That screams unprofessional poll," said Begala. "500 for a national poll? You need at least 1,700."

In that same poll, 46 percent of respondents were Democrats or leaned Democrat and 36 percent were Republicans or leaned Republican.

Begala says it didn't accurately represent the electorate. A poll typically is 44 percent Democrat and 38 percent Republican.

"You have to look at who they are asking," said Begala.

Begala believes the race is likely a little closer than polling suggests. This isn't a done deal just yet.

"The Clinton campaign is happy that she's surging, but they're as nervous as a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs, they're nervous because they know the electorate isn't passionate about her," said Begala.

But it's been a year that's broken every political rule.

"This year as opposed to other years, it's a crapshoot," said Begala.

Pollsters say there may be a hidden Trump vote out there that polling isn't seeing.

"In politics the scoreboard is get out the vote, who is going to vote," said Begala. "That's what really matters in the end."

Recent history shows polling can be dramatically off.

Earlier this summer, BREXIT polling suggested the UK would vote to "Remain" in the European Union by 14 points. But on Election Day, voters shocked the world, the "Leave" campaign won by four points.

Some pollsters argue there's a hidden Trump vote out there that polls might be missing.


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