Lies, Damned Lies, and Presidential Polling
The latest polling has the president trailing Joe Biden badly. Don't believe it.
If your instincts of late have told you not to trust all these polls showing President Donald Trump trailing Joe Biden by double digits, then you have good instincts. After all, we’ve seen this movie before.
Democrats and the Trump-deranged media (but we repeat ourselves) want you to believe that the president is trailing badly. They want you to be deeply discouraged and to spread that discouragement like a virus among other Trump supporters — just like they wanted you to do four years ago, when Hillary Clinton enjoyed the same “commanding” lead that Biden now holds.
We call this phenomenon “pollaganda,” and our Mark Alexander has been writing about it for years. Back then, Alexander noted that most political polling is “outcome based” — meaning it’s done to achieve a desired result, whether the passage of a leftist policy or the election of a leftist candidate.
“Most polls reflect intentional propagation of a particular bias by Leftmedia television and print outlets to manipulate public opinion,” Alexander wrote in 2006. “They accomplish this by first saturating viewers with ‘reporting’ that reflects a particular bias. After a thorough indoctrination, the media outlets then conduct ‘opinion polls’ which, of course, reflect that indoctrination.”
Next comes the “bandwagon” effect, in which those without a strong ideological core tend to want to be on the “right side” of an issue or an election — that is, the side where the majority is.
Pollaganda didn’t work in 2016, though media activists are trying again — with feeling — in 2020. This is not to say that Trump isn’t trailing Biden, only that the margin is much tighter than we’re being led to believe.
Last week, for example, USA Today was downright giddy in reporting the results of the latest Quinnipiac poll, which showed Biden leading the president by a whopping 52-37. Fifteen points? Please.
“Yes, there’s still 16 weeks until Election Day,” trumpeted Quinnipiac polling analyst Tim Malloy, “but this is a very unpleasant real-time look at what the future could be for President Trump. There is no upside, no silver lining, no encouraging trend hidden somewhere in this survey for the president.”
Former Bill Clinton pollster Dick Morris, for one, begs to differ. In fact, he sees three significant problems with the Quinnipiac poll and others like it — problems that should cause the rest of us to dismiss gaudy margins out of hand.
As Morris notes, party identification across the U.S. is roughly 31-32% Democrat and 28-29% Republican, but Quinnipiac’s polling sample — 24% Republican and 34% Democrat — was off by 8-10 points. Second, Quinnipiac is polling registered voters instead of likely voters — even though likely voters are, yes, more likely to vote and to favor Republicans over Democrats. Finally, as George W. Bush proved in 2000 and Trump proved again in 2016, a candidate doesn’t need to win the national popular vote to win the presidency. (Recall that Clinton took 48.2% of the vote to Trump’s 46.1%, and she won the popular vote by nearly three million votes. And yet Trump won the Electoral College 304-227.)
A better survey — both because of its methodology and because of the superior track record of the pollster — was released last week by Rasmussen: “President Trump has jumped back into the race and now trails Joe Biden by just three points … [with the] likely Democratic presidential nominee earning 47% support among likely U.S. voters to Trump’s 44%. Five percent (5%) prefer some other candidate. Four percent (4%) are undecided.”
In short, this isn’t a 15-point race. Not even close.
But regardless of whether the polling we see between now and Election Day is accidentally unsound or deliberately so, just remember: They’re trying to depress you and shake your confidence in President Trump. Don’t let them get away with it.