Less than a week before Election Day, Monmouth University put out a poll showing that New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy had a comfortable lead of 11 points over GOP challenger Jack Ciattarelli. The race turned out to be much, much closer—the AP has indeed called it for Murphy, but the margin is so tight that Ciattarelli has yet to concede. Now, the pollster behind the late Monmouth assessment has written a remarkable op-ed in the New Jersey Star-Ledger. "I blew it," writes Patrick Murray. "If you are a Republican who believes the polls cost Ciattarelli an upset victory or a Democrat who feels we lulled your base into complacency, feel free to vent. I hear you."
Murray writes that he owes an apology to both campaigns. "But most of all I owe an apology to the voters of New Jersey for information that was at the very least misleading." He explains some of the hazards of election polling, including how pollsters have to make educated guesses on who will actually turn out to vote. In this case, the models were off. Noting that some outfits, including Gallup, have stopped doing election polls altogether, he suggests that might be wise. "If we cannot be certain that these polling misses are anomalies, then we have a responsibility to consider whether releasing horse race numbers in close proximity to an election is making a positive or negative contribution to the political discourse." Read the full op-ed. (Read more pollsters stories.)