The USC/Los Angeles Times “Daybreak” tracking poll has consistently showed a much different race than most of the other presidential polls, with Donald Trump leading Hillary Clinton in popular support virtually throughout the campaign. As of this morning, the poll had Trump leading by just over 3 percentage points, 46.8% to 43.6%.
In a report running this morning in The L.A. Times, the paper attempts to explain the poll, which has been heavily criticized — especially by Democrats.
“The biggest difference between the Daybreak poll and most other surveys involves what pollsters refer to as weighting, the process of adjusting a poll’s data to make sure it properly represents the diversity of the population,” The Times reports. “The Daybreak poll uses a weighting plan that is more complicated than most other surveys — perhaps too complex.”
But the paper defends its continued publication of the poll results, noting: “Tonight, we’ll find out whether it was right.”
The report adds: “As Sean Trende, the political analyst at Real Clear Politics, wrote of the Daybreak poll, ‘truth is not decided by committee.’ The fact that the Daybreak poll is weighted differently doesn’t mean that it is weighted incorrectly, it just means that it is different.”
The Times also notes: “Some of the worst failures of polling have come about because pollsters, whether deliberately or not, converged on a single view of an election, in what is often referred to as ‘herding.’
“With all the challenges that polling faces, it’s important to test different methods and approaches to surveying public opinion. Some tests will work, others won’t, but the only way to know is to try.”