Within the political polling business, normally the greatest challenge is getting a representative sample of the people who turn out to vote in elections. Things get even more dicey when it comes to determining who is a “likely voter” and who isn’t.
Those challenges are still in place as citizens have finally begun actively paying attention to the race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump but this year’s election presents another problem for the polling industry: survey respondents might be lying to them about their preferences.
Lying or confused respondents is a common challenge that social scientists have consistently had to deal with over the decades. The very best psychology or sociology studies actually don’t rely on self-reported analysis and instead try to rely on direct observation because of a phenomenon known as “social desirability bias,” or the tendency of people in any social situation to give what they believe to be the viewpoint that is the most popular.