America's Love-Hate Relationship with Political Polling

Oct 22, 2014

Two weeks to go until Election Day. Polls continue to show the Braley-Ernst Senate race is one of the closest in the nation – a contest that could decide party control in the Senate.

On this politics day episode of River to River, host Ben Kieffer looks at the latest polling for Iowa’s congressional races and the governor's race, with University of Iowa political analysts Caroline Tolbert and Tim Hagle. J. Ann Selzer, president of a public opinion research company in Des Moines, also joins the conversation. Together, they explain how polls are designed, how they’ve changed, and what separates good polling from bad polling.

"Polling is...like an X-ray for an election system; it lets you see something you can't see," says Tolbert. "Nationwide, eyes are on Iowa because of [the Senate] race and how Iowa may swing control of the nation, and without the polls, we're in the dark."