The campaign manager for South Carolina Senator Tim Scott indicated that the campaign feels state polls, rather than national polls, should be used to determine where the candidates stand in the presidential debates.
According to the RealClearPolitics average of the national polls, Scott currently sits in sixth place with just 2.5% of support. However, he is more competitive in polling from the first two primary states, Iowa and New Hampshire, where he places third with 9% and fourth with 7.5%, respectively.
Scott’s campaign manager Jennifer DeCasper wrote two letters to Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel contending that state polls in the “carve-out” states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina were a more accurate reflection of the various candidates’ status in the public eye.
“Relying on national polling results for the podium placement would not represent where the candidates actually stand in relation to where we are in the process with the voters,” DeCasper declared.
“I would propose the ‘carve out’ state polling should be weighted more heavily when considering the podium placement for candidates at the September debate,” DeCasper continued. “Polling results from Iowa should be the primary consideration for podium placement at the September debate. Alternatively, the RNC could take the candidates’ average polling results from all four ‘carve-out’ states in determining the podium placement for the September debate.”
“The debate committee has had a very thoughtful approach to the entire process, and we continue to welcome input from all candidates, partners, and stakeholders,” RNC spokesperson Emma Vaugh informed Axios.
The emphasis on national polls rather than state polls has come under criticism from other political figures, including former New Hampshire Republican Senator Scott Brown, who stated that he thought it was a “mistake to give preference to these national polls. I think you should have a bit more emphasis to the early primary states because that’s where everyone is focusing their time.”
In August 2020, Pew Research addressed the problems with current polling, noting different polling organizations had very different ways of conducting polls, some by phone using live interviews, some taking polls online using opt-in panels, some conducting online polls using respondents recruited offline, and some combining robocalls and online surveying.
“These different approaches have consequences for data quality, as well as accuracy in elections,” Pew noted, adding, “A poll may label itself ‘nationally representative,’ but that’s not a guarantee that its methodology is solid.”
“The real margin of error is often about double the one reported,” Pew noted. “National polls can be accurate in identifying Americans’ preferred candidate and yet fail to identify the winner.”