Presidential Opinion Polls – Déjà vu All Over Again?
Presidential pollsters have short memories. It was a mere four years ago that most pollsters faceplanted after predicting a Hillary Clinton landslide victory. Rather than humility and introspection after such wildly inaccurate predictions, they have doubled down and may be falling into the same trap of wishful thinking as they did in 2016.
Opinion polls are only as good as their samples. Assessing President Trump’s popularity in Boulder versus Sturgis would yield vastly different results based on the population being surveyed.
A recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll conducted Sept. 30 to Oct. 1 showed Joe Biden with a 14-point lead over President Trump, 53 to 39 percent, up from an 8 point lead a week earlier. That’s it then, game over. Time for Biden to start packing for his move from his basement to the White House.
YouTube screen grab
Who was polled to give Biden such a commanding lead? Looking at the poll internals, something the media prefers to hide, reveals that registered, not likely, voters were surveyed, one strike against the poll. As elections move closer to election date, that calls the sample into question. Given that voter turnout for presidential elections is typically just over 50 percent, half of those surveyed won’t vote, regardless of their opinions.
Of the 800 registered voters surveyed, Democrats were oversampled by 9 points, 45 to 36 percent, explaining much of Joe’s supposed 14 point advantage.
This poll echoes a July Quinnipiac poll finding Biden opening a 15-point lead over Trump. Again this was registered voters and oversampled Democrats by 10 points, 34 to 24 percent, creating much of the 15-point lead.
Are there 8 to 10 percentage points more Democrats than Republicans out there? If so, then why isn’t Hillary Clinton the one running for re-election? In reality it may be the opposite. Politico reported Republican voter registration surging in Florida, 41 percent more new Republican voters compared with Democrats.
History may provide a guide, and sense of déjà vu for pollsters and the media outlets paying for the polls. In October 2016, Hillary Clinton had a 12-point lead over candidate Trump according to an ABC News tracking poll. How did that turn out?
A CBC poll a few weeks before the 2016 election gave Hillary Clinton a 9-point lead over Donald Trump. That poll, too, oversampled Democrats.
Aside from overrepresenting Democrats, rather than asking potential voters who they prefer to win the election, ask they who they expect to win. Ask a sports fan who they want to win, and they will choose their favorite team. If you ask who they expect to win, as if they had to bet money on the game, you may get a different and more accurate answer.
Gallup noted on Oct. 1 that Trump’s job approval rating stands at 46 percent, close to but slightly below his high of 49 percent earlier this year. More importantly when they asked those surveyed who they expected to win the election, Trump won going away, 56 percent to 40 percent, a 16-point margin.
This latter question predicted the winner of the popular vote, although not necessarily the Electoral College winner, of each presidential election since 1996.
Perhaps voters notice the plethora of Trump signs and dearth of Biden signs when driving around. Or that their friends and neighbors support Trump. Maybe they are looking at Trump rallies with tens of thousands of attendees versus Biden “rallies,” if you could even call them rallies, with a few dozen attendees, mostly media and Secret Service.
Did voters notice hundreds of Trump supporters driving their cars, trucks, and motorcycles across blue state Colorado while the president was in the hospital battling COVID? Or thousands of boaters rallying for Trump in a North Carolina boater parade? How about this endless parade of Trump cars a few days ago in Olympia, Washington? There is nothing remotely similar for Biden.
Maybe voters are noticing Trump’s confidence compared with Democrat panic? Trump is out of the hospital and will soon be on the campaign trail after recovering from COVID. He will be ready for the next debate. Democrats and the media, with a straight face said that Biden easily won the first debate but that he shouldn’t do any more debates, which makes no sense. If Biden aced the first debate, his handlers should want him to do a dozen more, yet they don’t.
Perhaps voters realize that Trump almost always wins, and that betting against him is a bad idea based, especially as the incumbent president. Many bet against Trump from the day he rode the escalator down at Trump Tower in June 2015 and have lost those bets. That might explain why so many think he will win reelection, even if the polls say the opposite.
Remember that most media polls are attempting to influence, rather than reflect, public opinion. Campaigns have their own internal polls which must be telling Democrats to worry, explaining their increasing hysteria as the election nears.
For example, Trump’s total approval among likely black voters is at 23 percent according to Rasmussen Reports, a demographic group that voted for Trump in 2016 in only single digits. This would explain the Fox News double team of Chris Wallace and John Roberts asking for the umpteenth time for Trump to denounce white supremacy.
Will the media make the same mistake as four years ago, when they gave Hillary Clinton “a more than 99 percent chance” of beating Donald Trump just 3 days before the election? Or will they heed the predictions of Stony Brook University Professor Helmut Norpoth, whose model correctly called five of the six last presidential elections, who now forecasts Trump being reelected in a landslide?
It’s such an important election for the Democrats and the media that they are willing to toss credibility to the wind if they can depress Trump’s base and keep a few of his voters home based on a predicted Biden landslide victory. Will history repeat itself on Nov. 3?
Brian C. Joondeph, M.D., is a Denver-based physician and freelance writer whose pieces have appeared in American Thinker, Daily Caller, Rasmussen Reports, and other publications. Follow him on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Parler, and QuodVerum.