About the AJC’s September poll

BRANDEN CAMP/SPECIAL

Credit: Branden Camp

Credit: Branden Camp

BRANDEN CAMP/SPECIAL

This poll is intended to provide a snapshot of the state of the presidential and U.S. Senate elections in Georgia six weeks out from the Nov. 3 election. It’s not a prediction of who will win.

Polling is just one component of how The Atlanta Journal-Constitution covers elections. For much of the past year, we have been writing about major developments such as the coronavirus pandemic, the faltering economy and racial justice protests that have affected voters and how candidates reach out to them. We’ve examined the records of candidates, and we’ve invited them to share their approaches to top issues, including some questions submitted by Georgia voters. And we continue to cover the many challenges related to voting during a pandemic.

Polling is not perfect, but it remains the most effective tool available for measuring public opinion. We know you may have many questions about our polls, so we provide detailed explanations of how our polls are conducted so you can evaluate them for yourself.

Here are some common questions about our polls and their answers:

Q. Who conducted the poll?

A. The poll was conducted for the AJC by the School of Public and International Affairs Survey Research Center at the University of Georgia. Students, along with some contractors, 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 ajc.com/news/georgia-polls/.

Q. Who selected the questions?

A. 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.

Q. Whom did we talk to?

A. The School of Public and International Affairs Survey Research Center contacted 1,150 Georgians from across the state who are registered to vote and indicated they are very likely to vote. 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. Seventy percent of the calls were made to cellphone numbers; 30% to landlines.

Q. What is weighting and how do you do it?

A. 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, sex and educational level.

Q. What is the “margin of error” for the poll and what exactly does that mean?

A. 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.

About the Author