An innovative approach to polling during an unprecedented election year

NORC at the University of Chicago partners on AP Votecast to provide media with real-time data

In an unprecedented election year, NORC at the University of Chicago will partner with the Associated Press to survey voters using an innovative approach designed for how the country increasingly votes today: early and by mail.

AP VoteCast will provide insights into the race for president, every race for governor and U.S. Senate, as well as statewide U.S. House races. With an expected sample size of 140,000, it will provide detailed, real-time assessment of the races in all 50 states—data will be used on Election Day by media outlets including Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, NPR, Univision and PBS NewsHour.

“AP VoteCast was designed for a future where more Americans vote before polls open on Election Day than on Election Day itself,” said David Scott, deputy managing editor of the Associated Press. “The pandemic has only accelerated the transition to that future, which means one thing we don’t have to do differently this year is scramble to invent a new way to survey the electorate. We came into 2020 ready for this moment.”

Based on a decade of research, AP VoteCast debuted in the 2018 U.S. midterm elections. The survey produced highly accurate estimates of results in races for Senate and governor; AP VoteCast’s estimates of the advance vote in states in the 2018 U.S. midterms had an average error of less than 2 percentage points.

AP Votecast is the latest innovation from NORC at the University of Chicago, which since 1941 has conducted groundbreaking studies, created innovative methods and tools, and partnered with organizations around the world to transform complex information into useful knowledge.

“NORC is proud to continue our collaboration with the Associated Press where we work together to provide a modern and innovative solution to a critical need—providing accurate and timely information about the views of voters in the election,” said Trevor Tompson, senior vice president for public affairs and media research at NORC. “We bring NORC’s commitment to scientific integrity, accuracy and transparency to this extremely important work.”

As they did after the 2018 midterms, AP and NORC plan to share the results returned by AP VoteCast’s innovative methodology for peer and academic review. The methodology behind the survey is available online.