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Media turns to Elon political science professor to sort through election results, polling impact

Jason Husser, assistant professor of political science, is the director of the Elon University Poll. 

Jason Husser is interviewed by WXII-TV's Kenny Beck on Nov. 15.

Elon's Jason Husser, assistant professor of political science, has been frequent commentator as members of the media have sorted through the results of the 2016 election and tried to identify the different factors impacting the outcomes in high-profile races. 

Husser, who is the director of the Elon University Poll, has weighed in for articles and television reports that have focused on the accuracy of the polls during this year's election cycle and the implications for politics and policy from the presidential, Congressional and gubernatorial races. 

For a Nov. 9 article in the Winston-Salem Journal, Husser speculated about what might have contributed to national polls not completely capturing the strength of support for Donald Trump. "My best educated guess with only a few hours of reflection is that low response rates — people refusing to talk to pollsters at record high numbers — was the biggest factor most contributing to nationwide error," Husser said. "However, the entire polling industry will spend the next several months digging deep into the data to figure out what went wrong in detail."

As many polls faced criticisms following the election, Husser defended the results of the Elon Poll this fall that found close races with results that largely fell within the margin of error in his comments for a Nov. 11 Burlington Times-News article. "Polls were fairly accurate in 2016," Husser told the Times-News. "National polls were just as accurate as they were in 2012."

(View an assessment of the Elon Poll's 2016 results by Husser here.) 

Jason Husser, assistant professor of political science and the director of the Elon University Poll

Husser also offered insights into voter preferences in nearby Guilford County during the 2016 for a Nov. 10 article in the Greensboro News & Record, saying, "when an election cycle is a good year for Republicans, the winning candidates in Guilford, Wake, and Mecklenburg counties will often be different than the winners statewide."

A Nov. 15 segment on WFMY News 2 about what happens next in the recount for the N.C. governor's race featured Husser, who talked about potential scenarios going forward. "We could see an unlikely scenario in which it's impossible to determine the winner. This could happen in which votes are destroyed. In Durham County, it's unlikely votes were destroyed but if it turns out that machines messed up so badly that votes didn't get counted, you could see a remote situation where the governor say you can't determine this, makes an appeal, and then the general assembly ends up picking who is the governor," Husser said. 

For a Nov. 16 piece that appeared on WXII (no link available), Husser talked about potential changes in the way the Elon Poll connects with likely voters and the public, given the increasing challenges there are in reaching people by phone. "The big switch that's going to be going on at the national level and something we're looking into deeply here at Elon is moving away from the telephone," Husser said. 

Owen Covington,
11/16/2016 7:40 AM