Harry Talks Polls With The Guardian’s Tom McCarthy

From FiveThirtyEight:

We’ll be reporting from Cleveland all week and live-blogging each night. Check out all our dispatches from the GOP convention here.

CLEVELAND — If you’ve never attended a political party’s national convention, let me tell you that there are a lot of media here. While Donald Trump needed only 1,237 delegates to clinch the nomination, 15,000 members of the media came to town to cover it. Among the masses: Tom McCarthy, who writes about politics for the Guardian US. I use data all the time, but I’m always curious about how more traditional reporters work with polls. So I sat down with Tom and asked him how he uses polls and how readers react to them. (The transcript below has been lightly edited for length and clarity.)

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Harry Enten: How much do your readers trust the polls?

Tom McCarthy: People are skeptical of polls and pollsters. They are traumatized. Readers took false hope [when the polls showed the Brexit vote failing]. As a result, readers get in the comments and say, “Why are you bothering?” This is especially the case if there is a stand-alone piece on a poll. Readers are suspicious. Once bit, twice shy. … Guardian readers feel about pollsters as Trump voters feel about the media: They are angry. You wouldn’t want to meet a Guardian reader in the alley if you are a pollster.

Harry: So why do you bother?

Tom: It’s a love-hate relationship. They don’t trust them, but they can’t quit them. … They drive traffic. … There is a paradox. Nothing gets them going more than a Quinnipiac poll showing Trump up in Florida. I’m in a position where I don’t want them to shoot the messenger.

Harry: How do you choose which polls to write about?

Tom: I noticed us not covering …

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