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Sharad Goel: How the presidential election flummoxed the pollsters

CREDIT: Swing voter? Reuters/Brendan McDermid


Was it a statistical fluke, a surprise but within the polls’ margins of error? Not by a long shot, says Sharad Goel, assistant professor of management science and engineering at Stanford University. Professor Goel, who recently co-authored two important pre-election studies of polling errors, admits that he was as surprised as anybody by Trump’s victory. But he is certain that the results on Nov. 8 reflected systemic polling weaknesses, and he has a strong suspicion about two weaknesses in particular. “This wasn’t just random noise in the polls,” Professor Goel says. “This was a systemic failing.”

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About Professor Sharad Goel

Sharad Goel is an Assistant Professor at Stanford in the Department of Management Science & Engineering (in the School of Engineering). He also ha courtesy appointments in Sociology and Computer Science. My primary area of research is computational social science, an emerging discipline at the intersection of computer science, statistics, and the social sciences. I’m particularly interested in applying modern computational and statistical techniques to study and design public policy. He has recently been looking at police discrimination, stop-and-frisk, swing voting, voter fraud, filter bubbles, privacy legislation, and media bias. He studied at the University of Chicago (B.S. in mathematics) and at Cornell (M.S. in computer science; Ph.D. in applied mathematics). Before joining the Stanford faculty, he worked at Microsoft Research in New York City.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016