A group of Democratic polling companies acknowledged “major errors” in their efforts to track voters during the 2020 election Tuesday.
Five of the largest polling companies for the Democratic Party – ALG Research, Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group, GBAO Strategies, Global Strategy Group, and Normington Petts – issued a joint statement admitting that each one overestimated Democratic performance on election day last year.
“2020 was an ‘Oh, s***’ moment for all of us,” one pollster involved in crafting the statement told Politico. “And I think that we all kinda quickly came to the point that we need to set our egos aside. We need to get this right.”
The results of the 2020 election sparked infighting among Congressional Democrats as moderates pressured House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to rein in progressives such as Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN). Moderate Democrats slammed more radical party members, claiming that radical Democratic policy proposals throughout the 2020 election cost the party close races.
The Democratic polling companies contributed to the confusion within Democratic ranks by publishing rosy polling numbers for Democrats that did not reflect reality on election day.
“Thanks to the quirks of the electoral college, the difference between a new administration and four more years of Donald Trump was merely 43,000 votes cast across Wisconsin, Georgia, and Arizona. As pollsters, the tremendous impact of such a small number of votes underscores the importance of continually questioning our assumptions and working to improve our methods to produce more accurate, reliable data. But in 2020, our industry saw major errors and failed to live up to our own expectations,” the polling companies said in a statement.
The pollsters said that while their data was reliable in Democratic strongholds and other blue areas, their polling methods failed most often to measure the tastes and preferences of Republican voters.
“We saw that in more Democratic states and districts, and some closely divided states like Georgia and Arizona, the data were quite good. But in more Republican areas, the data were often wrong, sometimes egregiously so,” the polling companies said.
The pollsters said that they made errors both in estimating voter turnout and measuring voter preferences beyond the margin of error. Regarding turnout, the companies underestimated the number of Republican voters who showed up to vote.
“Now that we have had time to review the voter files from 2020, we found our models consistently overestimated Democratic turnout relative to Republican turnout in a specific way. Among low propensity voters—people who we expect to vote rarely—the Republican share of the electorate exceeded expectations at four times the rate of the Democratic share,” the pollsters said (emphasis theirs). “This turnout error meant, at least in some places, we again underestimated relative turnout among rural and white non-college voters, who are overrepresented among low propensity Republicans.”
The pollsters admit that they do not know why they whiffed so badly on voter measurement. “While there is evidence some of these theories played a part, no consensus on a solution has emerged,” the pollsters said.
“What we have settled on is the idea there is something systematically different about the people we reached, and the people we did not. This problem appears to have been amplified when Trump was on the ballot, and it is these particular voters who Trump activated that did not participate in polls,” they continued.