March 8 STEM Café to Explore Math Behind Election Polls

Matt Streb
Matt Streb

At the next STEM Café, “Predicting the Primaries: How Math Shapes Presidential Elections,” Department of Political Science Chair Matt Streb will explore the nitty-gritty of election polls, discussing how they work, how they are analyzed and how they can affect outcomes.

The free talk and discussion will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 8, at Eduardo’s Mexican Restaurant, 214 E. Lincoln Hwy. in DeKalb.

With primary season in full swing, every day brings news of yet another poll claiming to show which candidates are pulling ahead or falling behind. Streb’s research, which has been cited everywhere from The New York Times to USA Today, provides insight into why different polls produce different results, making winners and losers difficult to predict.

“I want people to get an understanding of why it’s so difficult to poll presidential elections, especially the primaries,” Streb said. “That means talking about the statistics behind polling, factors like sampling size, margins of error, the weighting of data. The math is not complex, but it’s important. It explains the difference between a scientific and unscientific poll.”

Streb’s voice is a familiar one; he frequently provides election commentary on the radio, appearing regularly on DeKalb’s WNIJ and Rockford’s WROK, where he is a weekly guest on “Straight Talk with Riley O’Neal.”

“With all the interest buzzing around this year’s primary contests, this is sure to be an interesting evening,” said STEM Outreach Associate Judith Dymond. “Anyone who comes will leave with a better understanding of the math behind the daily news.”

This event is part of STEM Outreach’s series of monthly STEM Cafés, all of which are free and open to the public. Food and drinks will be available for purchase from Eduardo’s.

For more information on STEM Cafés and other STEM events, contact Dymond at (815) 753-4751 or jdymond@niu.edu.

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