Gallup always thinking about changes, tweaks

People arrive to vote at a polling station in Eastern Market on Tuesday, November 6, 2012 in Washington, D.C.

President Obama set some interesting milestones with his re-election. No president since the Great Depression has been re-elected with unemployment this high and he's only the second to be awarded a second term with unemployment over seven percent -- the other was Ronald Reagan.

Looking back at those numbers, pollsters say it's easy to understand why some were quick to criticize or disbelieve the polls showing Obama with a lead going into election day. Yet after all was said and done, according to Frank Newport, editor-in-chief of Gallup, this election proved that "polling still works...old-fashioned polling across the board for most firms this time actually ended up being the best way to gauge what was happening out there."

In retrospect, Newport says pollsters should think about changing how they reach people with cellular phones. And perhaps most interestingly, Newport says his firm may rethink how it judges who a "likely voter" is, based in part on how successful President Obama was in getting people to the polls. "Gallup has a likely voter model that we've been using for many years," Newport says. "But I think Obama's people actually turned out in somewhat higher numbers than might have been anticipated based on the way that we've analyzed that historically."

"So, we'll analyze again how we isolate likely voters because that's a real key to try an figure out who's going to actually vote and how they are going to vote on Election Day," he adds.

About the author

Frank Newport, Ph.D., is the editor-in-chief at Gallup and appears regularly on Marketplace.

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