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Here are some common questions about our polls and their answers:
Who conducted the poll: The poll was conducted for the AJC by the School of Public and International Affairs Survey Research Center at the University of Georgia. Students made the calls under the direction of M.V. "Trey" Hood III, the director of the center and a professor of political science. UGA began polling for the AJC in 2018. An archive of our polls can be found at https://www.ajc.com/news/georgia-polls/.
Who selected the questions? AJC editors and reporters chose the questions based on current issues in the news and questions we have about what Georgia voters care about. Some questions are the same from poll to poll. Every poll also asks a series of standard demographic questions.
Whom did we talk to? 1028 registered voters from across the state, from Oct. 30 to Nov. 8. The numbers were randomly drawn from a voter registration list obtained through the sampling vendor L2. The company maintains a database constructed from the state voter registration lists. Through commercial sources, phone numbers have been added to the individual records (registrants) that make up these lists. 70% of the calls were made to cellphone numbers; 30% to landlines.
What is weighting and how do you do it?
Some adjustments are made to the total population of people surveyed to accurately reflect the demographics of the state. This poll was weighted for race, age and sex. UGA is studying whether to weigh future results for education as well and will likely begin doing so with polls conducted in 2020. This is an issue because not doing so has been identified as a reason some state polls underestimated support for Donald Trump in 2016. Dr. Hood at UGA notes that our 2018 poll of the governor’s race did not weight for education and came very close to the final election result. Nevertheless, most polling experts now recommend the practice and he is investigating updating his methods to address the issue.
What is the “margin of error” for the poll and what exactly does that mean?
No matter how carefully a poll is conducted, there will always be some measure of uncertainty when you survey a small portion of a larger population, such as the state of Georgia. The margin of error is the measure of the uncertainty in the sample. The margin of error that we report accounts for these sources of uncertainty. For example, with a margin of error of 4 percentage points, a candidate polling at 50% could have support of anywhere between 46% and 54%, with a 95% level of confidence. That means that if we drew 100 different samples using the same methodology, then no more than five times out of 100 should chance variations in the sample cause the results to vary by more than 4 percentage points from the answers that would be obtained if all Georgians were polled.
Susan Potter is the senior editor for state government and politics.