Why the Polls May be Wrong Again

Polls and pundits were wrong across the board prior to the 2016 presidential election.

Indeed, the anti-Trump spin was so universal with pollsters and journalists in the last presidential election, that even three and a half years later, it’s hard to believe that there wasn’t a conspiracy to cook the books to discourage Trump voters.

With another election pending, pollsters seem to be having hot flashes of déjà vu. Donald Trump is again universally cast as the dark horse. But this year there is some clear evidence to explain why polls and media alike may be misreading or misrepresenting the numbers.

Flyover Phantoms

Pollsters agree on one thing: rural voters are notoriously hard to reach for surveys. Explanations are self-evident. Blue collar America, the “deplorables,” are still working. Urban Americans, government employees, and the public schools are on paid leave for the COVID epidemic. One in four Americans, liberal to a fault, works for government or academia at all levels.

The usual urban suspects may be overrepresented in polls. Biden voters, largely an urban demographic, are thus still at home; answering the phone and available to skew the curve.

Campus Apathy

If the COVID-19 urban/state shutdowns are a conspiracy to smear Trump, it might backfire on campus. Teens and twenty-somethings, even in a good year, are a liberal yet apathetic voting demographic. With school in indefinite recess, the campus will not be much of a player this year for rallying the Biden/Harris snowflake vote.

The Black Revolt

African Americans since the mid-20th century have been a reliable demographic for Democrats; ironically the party of slavery. Something changed in 2020.  

Blacks are registering as independents this year in unprecedented numbers, not good news for liberals and Democrats. Biden’s patronizing attitude towards blacks didn’t help either, but other omens are not good. Twenty-seven black Republicans are running for Congress this year. Further, the noisiest and most visible down-ballot candidates are black. Burgess Owens in Utah and Kim Klacik in Maryland are examples.

Candace Owens is not running for office yet, but surely, she is the new face of parallel pragmatic black politics and polemics.

The Republican Closet

A substantial number of  sensible ordinary Americans, especially those near cities, would not deign to show visible Trump support; no yard signs and no bumper stickers. Such target tokens would invite retribution from liberal thugs, BLM, and Antifa activists already in the streets. Closet Trump voters are keeping a low profile as the cancel culture rages because they know that the riot and vandalism demographic will not be restrained in blue states any time soon.

There are no metrics, save the vote, to count those quiet if not silent and determined Trump supporters.

The best revenge is a win.

Motives and Methods

American political polling is the most dishonest honor system on the planet.

We are never told how many calls must be made to get a response, nor is there any way to gauge the honesty of respondents -- self-described Democrats, Republicans, or Independents. When we don’t know about the unresponsive, we know even less about apathy, or outright hostility towards polls themselves.

Facts omitted are seldom considered.

Clearly, pollsters themselves are an urban demographic who come to the table with all the bias we see in other Beltway institutions. Urban media censors, of which the polling industry is a subset, now includes the Presidential Debate Commission and the dot.com empires. The ranks of those able and willing to cook the books are now legion.

Big Brother is clearly a liberal urban Democrat.

It’s a very safe bet that the same folks who wouldn’t dare put out a Trump sign might not be willing to talk to, or be candid with, some smarmy pollster that is very likely to be a swamp creature.

Forecasts and Prophesies

Propagandists and cynical ad men know that the bovine mass will follow the cow with the bell. Herd sentiments are not decisive in an election, but they are relevant.

Most live polls with limited numbers and large margins of error are pushing an agenda. Nationwide popularity polls are an example, irrelevant because a president is elected state-by-state through the Electoral College.

Real democracy plays by the rules.

Most major pollsters are associated with one or more media outlets. Partisan news organizations are selling prophesy, not forecasts. Propaganda is probably the polite description of much that passes for political news in the last decade.

If we are honest, however, we must admit that the American left has hit a trifecta in the 2020 propaganda wars. Liberals dominate a single, if not monolithic, narrative pushed by the press, broadcast networks, and social platforms across the internet.

Can enough ordinary voters see through the hype, smog, and distortions to make a pragmatic choice that preserves what’s left of the best of America?

Among many other things, the wisdom of crowds is on trial next month.

The author writes about the politics of national security.

Image: Tom Arthur

Polls and pundits were wrong across the board prior to the 2016 presidential election.

Indeed, the anti-Trump spin was so universal with pollsters and journalists in the last presidential election, that even three and a half years later, it’s hard to believe that there wasn’t a conspiracy to cook the books to discourage Trump voters.

With another election pending, pollsters seem to be having hot flashes of déjà vu. Donald Trump is again universally cast as the dark horse. But this year there is some clear evidence to explain why polls and media alike may be misreading or misrepresenting the numbers.

Flyover Phantoms

Pollsters agree on one thing: rural voters are notoriously hard to reach for surveys. Explanations are self-evident. Blue collar America, the “deplorables,” are still working. Urban Americans, government employees, and the public schools are on paid leave for the COVID epidemic. One in four Americans, liberal to a fault, works for government or academia at all levels.

The usual urban suspects may be overrepresented in polls. Biden voters, largely an urban demographic, are thus still at home; answering the phone and available to skew the curve.

Campus Apathy

If the COVID-19 urban/state shutdowns are a conspiracy to smear Trump, it might backfire on campus. Teens and twenty-somethings, even in a good year, are a liberal yet apathetic voting demographic. With school in indefinite recess, the campus will not be much of a player this year for rallying the Biden/Harris snowflake vote.

The Black Revolt

African Americans since the mid-20th century have been a reliable demographic for Democrats; ironically the party of slavery. Something changed in 2020.  

Blacks are registering as independents this year in unprecedented numbers, not good news for liberals and Democrats. Biden’s patronizing attitude towards blacks didn’t help either, but other omens are not good. Twenty-seven black Republicans are running for Congress this year. Further, the noisiest and most visible down-ballot candidates are black. Burgess Owens in Utah and Kim Klacik in Maryland are examples.

Candace Owens is not running for office yet, but surely, she is the new face of parallel pragmatic black politics and polemics.

The Republican Closet

A substantial number of  sensible ordinary Americans, especially those near cities, would not deign to show visible Trump support; no yard signs and no bumper stickers. Such target tokens would invite retribution from liberal thugs, BLM, and Antifa activists already in the streets. Closet Trump voters are keeping a low profile as the cancel culture rages because they know that the riot and vandalism demographic will not be restrained in blue states any time soon.

There are no metrics, save the vote, to count those quiet if not silent and determined Trump supporters.

The best revenge is a win.

Motives and Methods

American political polling is the most dishonest honor system on the planet.

We are never told how many calls must be made to get a response, nor is there any way to gauge the honesty of respondents -- self-described Democrats, Republicans, or Independents. When we don’t know about the unresponsive, we know even less about apathy, or outright hostility towards polls themselves.

Facts omitted are seldom considered.

Clearly, pollsters themselves are an urban demographic who come to the table with all the bias we see in other Beltway institutions. Urban media censors, of which the polling industry is a subset, now includes the Presidential Debate Commission and the dot.com empires. The ranks of those able and willing to cook the books are now legion.

Big Brother is clearly a liberal urban Democrat.

It’s a very safe bet that the same folks who wouldn’t dare put out a Trump sign might not be willing to talk to, or be candid with, some smarmy pollster that is very likely to be a swamp creature.

Forecasts and Prophesies

Propagandists and cynical ad men know that the bovine mass will follow the cow with the bell. Herd sentiments are not decisive in an election, but they are relevant.

Most live polls with limited numbers and large margins of error are pushing an agenda. Nationwide popularity polls are an example, irrelevant because a president is elected state-by-state through the Electoral College.

Real democracy plays by the rules.

Most major pollsters are associated with one or more media outlets. Partisan news organizations are selling prophesy, not forecasts. Propaganda is probably the polite description of much that passes for political news in the last decade.

If we are honest, however, we must admit that the American left has hit a trifecta in the 2020 propaganda wars. Liberals dominate a single, if not monolithic, narrative pushed by the press, broadcast networks, and social platforms across the internet.

Can enough ordinary voters see through the hype, smog, and distortions to make a pragmatic choice that preserves what’s left of the best of America?

Among many other things, the wisdom of crowds is on trial next month.

The author writes about the politics of national security.

Image: Tom Arthur