KSTP/SurveyUSA: An Election 2018 Report Card

November 09, 2018 07:39 PM

A lot of people were questioning political polls after the 2016 presidential election when Donald Trump won the presidency over Hillary Clinton, despite many polls showing her as the favorite.

The KSTP/SurveyUSA poll indicated Clinton had a 10-point lead over Trump just a week before the election. She won by less than two percentage points as Trump had a late surge.


In 2018, our KSTP/SurveyUSA polls showed six of seven winners in the lead in our final poll went on to win on Election Day.

"The FiveThirtyEight website ranks all pollsters by letter grade and they get an "A" from FiveThirtyEight,"  Carleton College political scientist Steven Schier said after reviewing the final poll results and actual vote totals. "And I think they earned that grade (again) in Minnesota this year."

Some of the poll results were remarkably accurate when compared to actual results. For instance, the final poll in the attorney general's race had Democrat Keith Ellison up by four points, 44 percent to 40 percent. He went on to win 49 percent to 45 percent, matching the four-point margin in the final poll. Both candidates saw their vote totals go up as they likely split the 12 percent of undecided voters, while some went to a third party candidate.

More from KSTP:

KSTP 2018 Election Coverage

Election Day 2018: Complete Election Results


It was a similar situation in the governor's race. Our final KSTP/SurveyUSA poll had Democrat Tim Walz up by eight points over Republican Jeff Johnson, 49 percent to 41 percent. The actual result was Walz by 12, 54 percent to 42 percent.

"The margin was slightly larger once the undecideds made up their minds, but it had a very accurate read on a race that was not extremely close," Schier said.

The two U.S. Senate races also weren't close in our final polls. They weren't close on Election Day either. Our final poll had Democrat Amy Klobuchar up by 23 points over Republican Jim Newberger, 57 percent to 34 percent. She won by 24 points. In the other Senate race, Democrat Tina Smith was up eight points in our final poll, 48 percent to 40 percent. She won by 11 points, 53 percent to 42 percent.

In the congressional races, the polls were also close to the final marks. In the 3rd District race, our poll showed Democrat Dean Phillips up five points over Republican Erik Paulsen, 49 percent to 44 percent. He won by 12 points, 56 percent to 44 percent.

"What you could see is that late momentum seemed to really help Dean Phillips and increase his margin of victory," Schier says.

Our final poll in the 2nd District race had Democrat Angie Craig up three points over Republican Jason Lewis. She won by six. In the 1st District race, Democrat Dan Feehan was up two points in our final poll. But Republican Jim Hagedorn ended up winning by less than one percentage point. Still, Schier says the final poll correctly targeted it as Minnesota's closest major race.

"SurveyUSA said this race would be extremely close," Schier said. "It is the closest (major) race in the state, so I think they had that right."

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Tom Hauser

Copyright 2018 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company


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