As Election Day 2020 approaches, the media and pollsters alike are once again assuring anyone who will listen – a number growing smaller by the day – that President Donald Trump is about to suffer a blowout defeat. He trails Joe Biden by 7.8% in national polling and is down 3.4% in key battleground states.
According to the polls, Trump’s unfavorable ratings are too high, his rhetoric too polarizing, and his opponent too experienced and well-funded to beat. If that message sounds familiar, it’s because you heard the same one in 2016. Pollsters convinced the American people, and the media, that President Trump had no hope of victory.
In reality, the president exceeded polling expectations in 10 of the 12 battleground states. In Wisconsin, a state all but ignored by the Clinton campaign in part because of her polling numbers there, President Trump was supposedly down 6.5%. He won it. In Michigan, he was down 3.4% and in Pennsylvania 1.9%. He won both of them as well by 0.3% and 0.7%, respectively. In nine of the 12 battleground states, polls were off by at least three percentage points.
After the polling debacle of 2016, pollsters and the media who presented their findings as fact, were contrite, apologizing for their failures, and promising to fix their mistakes and implement new strategies so the same thing would never happen again.
Actually, that’s not what happened. After taking a victory lap on the few states they correctly predicted, pollsters and the media washed their hands of any blame, claiming no one could have predicted a Trump victory—a surprising admission from the self-proclaimed arbiters of truth.
The polling industry has spent the last four years offering token promises of reforming their practices, rather than making substantive changes that will help them rebuild the trust of the American people. And that trust is waning, with the majority of Americans say they no longer believe political polling.
This lack of trust is displayed further when you take into account what the American people think will happen on election day. In 2016, seven in 10 Americans said they expected Hillary Clinton to win, a number surely impacted by the polls they were seeing. In 2020, despite facing polls that show him with a larger lead than Clinton, just four in 10 Americans say they expect a Biden victory.
Despite what the media and pollsters might think of them, the American people aren’t stupid. Election after election has shown them that pollsters, despite the media’s claims to the contrary, are not infallible.
Is it possible that Joe Biden really is leading by wide margins in battleground states, the way the polls predict? Of course. Pollsters claim to have learned from their mistakes, vowing to increase the frequency of their surveys and adjust their samples on “educational attainment,” often a key metric in determining political affiliation.
In addition, The Washington Post pointed out recently that “some types of people may be more likely to answer a survey than others,” leading polling companies to adjust how they draw samples and match population demographics.
But if those adjustments fail to provide more accuracy and this race goes the way of 2016, we won’t be witnessing the demise of Donald Trump, but rather the very people guaranteeing it. They better hope they’re right.
The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.
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