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In the November 2016 U.S. presidential election, many state-level public opinion polls, particularly in the Upper Midwest, incorrectly predicted the winning candidate. One leading explanation for this polling miss is that the precipitous decline in traditional polling response rates led to greater reliance on statistical methods to adjust for the corresponding bias—and that these methods failed to adjust for important interactions between key variables like educational attainment, race, and geographic region. Finding calibration weights that account for important interactions remains challenging with traditional survey methods: raking typically balances the margins alone, while post-stratification, which exactly balances all interactions, is only feasible for a small number of variables. In this paper, we propose multilevel calibration weighting, which enforces tight balance constraints for marginal balance and looser constraints for higher-order interactions. This incorporates some of the benefits of post-stratification while retaining the guarantees of raking. We then correct for the bias due to the relaxed constraints via a flexible outcome model; we call this approach “double regression with post-stratification.” We use these tools to re-assess a large-scale survey of voter intention in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, finding meaningful gains from the proposed methods. The approach is available in the multical R package.
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