It may look as if pollsters got the presidential election horribly wrong, considering that Hillary Clinton had been favored over Donald Trump, who ended up winning. But they weren’t as wrong as it looks.
For one thing, Clinton seems assured of winning more of the total popular vote once all the returns are in. It’s a quirk of America’s electoral system that votes are awarded on a state-by-state basis. The founding fathers set up the Electoral College that way by design, to balance the power given to big states (like New York) against smaller states (like Wyoming). That played to Trump’s strength in rural areas.
Because of the Electoral College system, pollsters will have to de-emphasize popular-vote predictions in the future, according to David Rothschild, the economist at Microsoft Research who runs a political prediction market called PredictWise.