Polling Problems

News: Video ReportsCampaign 2020
by Joseph Enders  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  November 3, 2020   

Experts sweat over election predictions

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All eyes are on and the Midwest and Pennsylvania in the 2020 election, and many pollsters are worried about the polls' accuracy.

Last week, New York Times polling analyst Giovanni Russonello hinged the entire presidential election on victory in Pennsylvania — a state Joe Biden is up five points in according to recent state polling — the same state some pollsters predicted Hillary Clinton to win by 11 points in 2016, an overestimation of over 12 points.

Russonello questions Biden's lead, noting he is polling worse than Hillary did in Philadelphia, the state's Democratic stronghold — down 10 points: 73% compared to 83% in 2016.

Recent polls also show President Trump has 24% support in Philadelphia, up nine points from 2016.

Not only that, but he reveals mail-in voting makes polling predictions even more unreliable, as thousands of mail-in ballots could be thrown out over signature discrepancies — something that will disproportionally affect Biden's voters.

Last month, another pollster, Jim Lee, from Republican-leaning Susquehanna Research, said the numbers you're seeing are not only incorrect but maliciously ignorant, specifically in Pennsylvania.

Jim Lee:

So I've called on the American Association of Public Opinion Research to crack down on egregious polling, to tighten standards for firms like F&M that clearly don't understand the landscape of Pennsylvania and that guys, like Chris and I, that are trying to do quality work — Chris' last poll in 2016, within the margin of error, ours showed the race between [Hillary] Clinton and Trump a statistical tie — when others like F&M had the race at 11 points. And you don't think that's voter suppression?

Before the final presidential debate last month, famed Republican pollster Frank Luntz expressed similar concerns to Fox News host Brett Baier.

Luntz: "So if Donald Trump surprises people — if Joe Biden's got a 5- or 6-point lead, and then Donald Trump wins, my profession is done. It's finished because nobody will ever trust. You can make a mistake once Brett. You cannot make it again."

Luntz is echoing the confusion of experts across the board in the polling industry, and with Trump showing massive enthusiasm coming into Election Day, the fate of the pollsters rests in a correct prediction on Nov. 3.

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