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How Scripps News interprets and reports on polls

Viewers called the Scripps News Viewer Hotline with questions about polls, and how we here at Scripps News consider them in our reporting.
How Scripps News interprets and reports on polls
Posted at 2:41 PM, Nov 03, 2023

With the political season ramping up, we've received several calls from you to our toll-free Scripps News Viewer Hotline asking about one staple of modern-day campaign coverage: polls.

Here at Scripps News, we view poll numbers as just one piece of data that helps us better understand political sentiment at a particular moment in time. We pair that with our own reporting to offer additional context and clarity. 

Understandably, some of you still have some questions.

Paul from Las Vegas said: "I'm curious about the voter polls that your station, and essentially, all news media report when they're referring to something ... I think there has to be more disclosure regarding polls other than a broad statement — well, based upon 75% of Americans, or 35% of Republicans, or 23% of Democrats — because that is really misleading."

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Behind the scenes, we have a thorough set of guidelines meant to gauge the validity of political polls before we report on them. Among the questions we ask are: 

- Who conducted the poll and how was it conducted?

- How many people were surveyed and what's the margin of sampling error?

- What population is represented?

- When was the poll conducted?

- Were interviews conducted over the phone, in person, or by mail?

- What questions were asked and were those questions balanced and unbiased?

- Was the data weighted?

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It's a long checklist and there are many other questions we ask, because not every political poll that comes out meets our standards for broadcast. But we hear your calls for more transparency around poll results and our political reporting in general. 

On our website we try to provide links to full datasets so you can take a closer look if you want, and we'll keep working to give you more insight into our newsgathering and review process throughout the campaign season and beyond. 

In the meantime, please keep those calls coming! Let us know how we’re doing — good or bad — anytime on our toll-free Scripps News Viewer Hotline at 1-833-4-SCRIPPS to lend your voice to the conversation.

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