Vice President and Managing Editor David Scott explains:
When AP set out to develop a modern way to survey American voters, we decided early on that we needed a completely new way of surveying the electorate that met voters where they are regardless of how they cast their ballots.It’s a decision that left us well positioned when COVID-19 upended the 2020 presidential election. In its first presidential election, AP VoteCast overcame a pandemic, rampant disinformation and a hyperpartisan political climate to successfully deliver on its core objectives.We also decided early on that our methodology would evolve over time – we would learn from our work and use the results from each election to make the survey better in the next.When we look back at 2020, here’s what we see.
The survey helped AP’s decision desk make accurate and competitive race calls on Election Day. As polls closed, VoteCast correctly projected the winners in 90% of races for president, Senate and governor.The data on attitudes of voters provided newsrooms around the world with a robust set of facts to explain the ‘why’ of the election. VoteCast’s real-time estimates of the shape of the electorate largely matched verified data released months later in state voter files, as well as this spring’s release of Census Bureau estimates of age groups, gender and racial/ethnic groups.VoteCast wasn’t perfect. Like many high-quality polls in 2020, our survey underestimated the vote for Republican candidates in some states. Alongside our partners at NORC at the University of Chicago, we’re deeply committed to further research to improve VoteCast and build upon its successes.Evolution is a hallmark of AP VoteCast. So, too, is our commitment to transparency in sharing what we learn from our data, as well as the data itself.Our full report on VoteCast in 2020 and our data is available today for peer and academic review from the website of the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research at Cornell University and on our data sharing platform at data.world.