This thesis, at its core, is an investigation into political polling in the United States. It deals mostly with election polling, but contains aspects of public opinion polling throughout as well. I wish to show how polling has morphed and changed into what it looks like today and provide an answer to what uses polls have in the America. I start with a history of the industry and an analysis of how different groups consume polls and assess their accuracy. These consumers include elected officials who use polls for campaigning and decision making, media using them to create narratives, lobbyists to aid the passing of legislation, and individuals using polls to inform their vote and ideologies. I also wish to show negatives to polling through inaccuracy, biases, and even fraud, but ultimately I will show why they do not outweigh the constructive uses of polls.
I will then follow with my case studies on the misconception of inaccuracy for polling in 2016 compared to what truly occurred during the election. Many say that polling failed in 2016, when in reality the final average prediction was a 3.3 percent margin of victory for Hillary Clinton in the popular vote and she won that by 2.1 percent - a remarkable 1.2 percent margin of error. After this I show how polling redeemed itself in the eyes of the public for its accurate predictions in the 2018 midterm elections. Finally, I will go into the case studies on the 2020 democratic primaries and approval rating polls for Donald Trump. I analyze consistent accuracy and margin of errors in the final predictions for the Iowa and Nevada caucuses as well as the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries to show which are harder to poll. I then show accuracy over time for approval ratings and create a hierarchy of the best polls. Lastly I analyze the final predictions for each state and territory in Super Tuesday. These case studies show which polls are the most accurate and which methodologies work best. Through this thesis I wish to show the importance of quality political polling and why they are both trustworthy and needed in America.