conspiracy theories

Larry Rosin

“The polling industry is one of the most collegial. Like everything to do with 2016, there were conspiracy theories galore, and I can tell you because I know all these people, they were just trying their best to get things right. The idea that they were spinning the results to try to hurt or help a candidate is just ludicrous.”

Polling expert Larry Rosin sits down with Wes and Skip to discuss the nature of the polling industry and its role in the 2016 election.


Larry Rosin is the president of Edison Research, which he co-founded in 1994. Edison is best known as the company that performs exit polls for all U.S. Elections for the National Election Pool (a consortium of ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox, NBC and the Associated Press). Rosin has been a primary force in building the company into one of the world’s most respected survey research companies, with a particular specialization in media and election polling. Rosin is a graduate of Princeton University, where he majored in Public and International Affairs, and received an MBA from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.

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“If you think of voting behavior, it’s not that different than picking the toothpaste you prefer off the shelf or picking any kind of consumer product...Maybe the import of what you’re picking is different and at a higher level, but ultimately what makes someone pick choice A over choice B, I’d say that’s very similar, even if it feels wrong to compare it to choosing between packaged goods.” (4:30)

“On election day, we had a very strong sense by noon that it was going to be extremely close and [Trump] had a very good chance to win. No one else outside of the quarantine we set up would have known that early. ... After the data started coming in, we had Clinton winning Minnesota by 2, and we knew that she was in trouble in Michigan and Wisconsin.” (9:50)

“The other big factor about this election is that both of these candidates were extremely unpopular. Going back to the consumer goods example, if Coke tasted like swill and Pepsi tasted like poison, you would just not drink that stuff. But we had a huge number of people who did go out to vote despite disliking both candidates and that creates a certain level of volatility that is difficult for pollsters to nail down.” (13:50)

“There are these conspiracy theories that [pollsters] are somehow part of the fix. If we were, I wouldn’t be here with you guys today. I would sell out democracy, but my price would be so high that I wouldn’t be here, I’d be living on my private island somewhere.” (18:00)