Gallup’s polls turned out to be way off, and Nate Silver certainly called them out on it.
But that doesn’t mean Gallup’s postmortem here is mere sour grapes:
It’s not easy nor cheap to conduct traditional random sample polls. It’s much easier, cheaper, and mostly less risky to focus on aggregating and analyzing others’ polls. Organizations that traditionally go to the expense and effort to conduct individual polls could, in theory, decide to put their efforts into aggregation and statistical analyses of other people’s polls in the next election cycle and cut out their own polling.
That’s true. Gallup and the other pollsters are doing the essential and expensive legwork, and then Silver will always be more accurate because he’s aggregating all of those polls and adding in other factors.
That would frustrate me, too. But beyond mere frustration is a point worth remembering — without all the pollsters doing their thankless jobs, Silver would have nothing to analyze.
It’s similar to the argument of reporting vs. “blogging” (if “blogging” is defined as responding to what’s already been reported, which isn’t always a fair definition). Reporters have to do the tough part. And in our current marketplace, we’re having a tough time finding the money to pay for them.