Big Data doesn’t lie ...

But does polling give us the right answers, asks Catherine Fieschi

The World Today
2 minute READ

Catherine Fieschi

Director, Counterpoint

The scene: a warm mid-April afternoon in New York in a brightly lit meeting room. The protagonists: a small group of repentant pollsters and data analysts − mostly male, bearded, white and wearing square glasses. The glasses, the angular table, the curt, edgy statements, forensic lights and multiple giant screens bring a touch of the TV drama CSI to the gathering.

We have all been asked to examine a victim: the wounded American polling industry. The invitation suggested an afternoon of soul-searching: Why had the risk of Brexit been underestimated by pollsters? How had Hillary Clinton’s chances been over-estimated in the American election?

The opening salvo from the head of a giant US polling company was humble: We are at sea, we need to revise how we do things, we need to ask some fundamental questions about our models.

Subscribe to read all issues

Articles from the current issue are free to read by all, the archive is exclusive to magazine subscribers and our members. Subscribe or become a member to view articles from the archive.