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Presented By: Michigan Program in Survey and Data Science

MPSDS JPSM Seminar Series - Evaluating Pre-Election Polling Estimates using a New Measure of Non-Ignorable Selection Bias

Brady T. West - Survey Methodology Program

Flyer for Evaluating Pre-Election Polling Estimates using a New Measure of Non-Ignorable Selection Bias Flyer for Evaluating Pre-Election Polling Estimates using a New Measure of Non-Ignorable Selection Bias
Flyer for Evaluating Pre-Election Polling Estimates using a New Measure of Non-Ignorable Selection Bias
MPSDS JPSM Seminar Series
October 12, 2022, 12:00-1:00 pm

Brady T. West is a Research Professor in the Survey Methodology Program, located within the Survey Research Center at the Institute for Social Research on the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor (U-M) campus. He earned his PhD from the Michigan Program in Survey and Data Science in 2011. Before that, he received an MA in Applied Statistics from the U-M Statistics Department in 2002, being recognized as an Outstanding First-year Applied Masters student, and a BS in Statistics with Highest Honors and Highest Distinction from the U-M Statistics Department in 2001. His current research interests include the implications of measurement error in auxiliary variables and survey paradata for survey estimation, selection bias in surveys, responsive/adaptive survey design, interviewer effects, and multilevel regression models for clustered and longitudinal data. He is the lead author of a book comparing different statistical software packages in terms of their mixed-effects modeling procedures (Linear Mixed Models: A Practical Guide using Statistical Software, Third Edition, Chapman Hall/CRC Press, 2022), and he is a co-author of a second book entitled Applied Survey Data Analysis (with Steven Heeringa and Pat Berglund), the second edition of which was published by CRC Press in June 2017. He was elected as a Fellow of the American Statistical Association in 2022.

Among the numerous explanations that have been offered for recent errors in pre-election polls, selection bias due to non-ignorable partisan nonresponse bias, where the probability of responding to a poll is a function of the candidate preference that a poll is attempting to measure (even after conditioning on other relevant covariates used for weighting adjustments), has received relatively less focus in the academic literature. Under this type of selection mechanism, estimates of candidate preferences based on individual or aggregated polls may be subject to significant bias, even after standard weighting adjustments. Until recently, methods for measuring and adjusting for this type of non-ignorable selection bias have been unavailable. Fortunately, recent developments in the methodological literature have provided political researchers with easy-to-use measures of non-ignorable selection bias. In this study, we apply a new measure that has been developed specifically for estimated proportions to this challenging problem. We analyze data from 18 different pre-election polls: nine different telephone polls conducted in eight different states prior to the U.S. Presidential election in 2020, and nine different pre-election polls conducted either online or via telephone in Great Britain prior to the 2015 General Election. We rigorously evaluate the ability of this new measure to detect and adjust for selection bias in estimates of the proportion of likely voters that will vote for a specific candidate, using official outcomes from each election as benchmarks and alternative data sources for estimating key characteristics of the likely voter populations in each context.

MPSDS
The University of Michigan Program in Survey Methodology was established in 2001 seeking to train future generations of survey and data scientists. In 2021, we changed our name to the Michigan Program in Survey and Data Science. Our curriculum is concerned with a broad set of data sources including survey data, but also including social media posts, sensor data, and administrative records, as well as analytic methods for working with these new data sources. And we bring to data science a focus on data quality — which is not at the center of traditional data science. The new name speaks to what we teach and work on at the intersection of social research and data. The program offers doctorate and master of science degrees and a certificate through the University of Michigan. The program's home is the Institute for Social Research, the world's largest academically-based social science research institute.
Flyer for Evaluating Pre-Election Polling Estimates using a New Measure of Non-Ignorable Selection Bias Flyer for Evaluating Pre-Election Polling Estimates using a New Measure of Non-Ignorable Selection Bias
Flyer for Evaluating Pre-Election Polling Estimates using a New Measure of Non-Ignorable Selection Bias
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