AP VoteCast is a survey of the American electorate conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago for The Associated Press and Fox News. Developed by the Associated Press and NORC at the University of Chicago, AP VoteCast is a new way to survey voters. The Associated Press and Fox News, among other news outlets, use the data to call race outcomes and to explain the mood of the electorate in their election-night coverage.
Since the 1960s, media organizations have used exit polls to tell the story of elections, to better understand which populations are voting for what types of candidates and policies, and to serve as a hub in our decentralized election system for synthesizing information and insights for the public. The original methodology for exit polls involved in-person interviews as voters leave the polling place. This method has remained fundamentally unchanged even as elections have seen significant changes in the way people vote. For example, in 2018 over 40 percent of ballots were cast early, absentee, or by mail, and this figure is on the rise.
VoteCast was designed by NORC at the University of Chicago and The Associated Press to overcome these challenges and provide a new approach to understanding elections. Using a random, probability-based sample of registered voters to carefully calibrate a very large sample from opt-in, online panels, VoteCast delivers the best of both methods – the accuracy of probability-based surveys combined with the scale provided by an opt-in survey that interviews tens of thousands people quickly. Because VoteCast is not based on in-person interviews at the polling booth, it, was in the ideal position to capture the opinions of registered voters in 2020 in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic when 70% of all ballots were cast in advance of Election Day. It also provides results in every state holding a statewide election, which means VoteCast delivers a broader portrait of the American electorate than any other election survey.
The Associated Press and NORC are committed to transparency of VoteCast’s methods and results, as well as the continual improvement of the VoteCast methodology over time.