Which presidential polls are the best? Here's how to know which ones to trust

Which presidential polls are the best? Here's how to know which ones to trust
Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

Donald Trump is closing the gap! Hillary Clinton is up by double-digits! Gary Johnson has almost qualified for the debates!  

These individual polls make for flashy headlines. They draw clicks. They will not tell you who the next president will be. There are many polls, some of which are highly respected, tracking Trump vs. Clinton in 2016. But which polls accurately track the truth is tricky. And relying on even the most reputable poll, on its own, is never advisable.

The best way to follow who is winning the presidential election is to follow polling averages. These poll trackers weigh polls based on their historical accuracy and methodology, average them together and produce a far more reliable picture of the election. 

At RealClearPolitics, national polls are aggregated to track the mood of voters toward the presidential nominees. Clinton currently holds a nearly five-point lead over Trump nationally. 

The data demonstrates the need to look at many reputable polls put together. A recent Quinnipiac poll puts Clinton up by 10 points. But another from Reuters says Trump is only one point behind. Both polls are respected, but tell very different stories. 

FiveThirtyEight offers more than polling averages: The website forecasts who will win the election based on polling and a variety of other data. With all data factored in, FiveThirtyEight gives Clinton a 70% chance of victory and about a five-point lead among voters. The New York Times gives Clinton an 87% chance of victory. Princeton University's election forecasting project gives her more than a 90% chance. 

Rule of thumb: Never trust one poll. Never even trust one organization that averages polls. Check them all. 

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Will Drabold

Will Drabold is a policy writer at Mic. He writes Navigating Trump's America, Mic's daily read on Donald Trump's America. He is based in Washington, D.C., and can be reached at wdrabold@mic.com

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