Gallup is sitting out the 2016 horse race to poll what Americans believe—not predict how they’ll vote

No, really.
No, really.
Image: AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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The popular polling firm Gallup won’t cover the US presidential primary race this year, and may sit out the general election as well, after an internal review into its troubled 2012 polling and a decision to focus more on issues-based polling.

“Our decision at this point is to tilt away from focusing almost exclusively on horse-race polling and instead use our resources to look at the issues from the people’s perspective,” editor in chief Frank Newport told Quartz. “We also hope that the candidates and the campaigns and the parties would pay attention … because we think that could make the whole process better for the democracy.”

For example, instead of measuring candidates’ favorability ratings, the group has been tracking how the public responses to candidates’ stances on the issue, like Donald Trump’s proposal to repeal the 14th amendment.

The announcement comes as a bit of a shock—Gallup has long been considered one of the most reputable polling organizations in the US. Founded by Greg Gallup in 1935, the group rose to fame after he famously predicted Franklin Roosevelt’s reelection.

But as Quartz’s Tim Fernholz noted, Gallup has not been very accurate in presidential polling in recent years. In 2012, Gallup’s last poll showed Mitt Romney ahead of Barack Obama by one percentage point; Obama was actually re-elected with a 3.9 point margin of victory.

Since then, Gallup has reviewed its polling methodologies, and decided to shift to asking voters about specific issues, rather than predicting a presidential winner.

“It’s not just who the people might say they’re going to vote for now—which, by the way, has little relationship to who they end up voting for,” said Newport.