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November 5, 2020

Pollaganda Was Wrong but Effective

Leftmedia pollsters won’t learn the right lesson. In fact, they know they succeeded.

We know Patriot Post readers will be shocked — shocked — to hear it, but the polls were wrong again in 2020. Very wrong.

According to the RealClearPolitics average of multiple polls on Monday, Joe Biden led Donald Trump by 7.2% nationally. And that had closed from even wider, double-digit margins, which some individual polls were still showing right up until Election Day. The actual popular vote margin? Somewhere around 1.6% right now.

Based on polling, the RCP average had Biden winning the Electoral College 319 to 219. The actual spread is yet to be determined, but, regardless, the prediction was off considerably.

Polling was just as wrong in some key Senate races.

The question is, how did the mainstream media get the polls so wrong, again? Or, to make it a statement as Fox News’s Tucker Carlson did during Election Night coverage, “We were wrong,” Carlson said of the media generally. “That’s a problem. That’s misleading, and we should cop to it, I think.”

He added, “At some point we, the media, need to pause and ask ourselves serious questions about how we’re thinking through what’s going to happen and how we present it because our predictions affect outcomes, to some extent, and they also, of course, determine our credibility. People judge us based on our predictions. Something really went wrong in the way we predicted a number of these races.”

Tucker got some things right. Namely that media credibility is even more in the toilet today than it was Monday when Trump voters weren’t answering polls because they don’t trust the media. The media gave Trump all sorts of free coverage during the Republican primary in 2016 because he was their chosen candidate, the man everyone assumed was the only one who’d lose to Hillary Clinton. After his nomination and then victory, the media spent the ensuing four years utterly trashing him in every report. Okay, not every report, just more than 90% of them. It’s somewhat remarkable that any voter even remotely inclined to consider Trump would respond to a pollster.

More importantly, Carlson also got something wrong, as do virtually all media figures, and it’s why they won’t fix the problem — because they don’t even see the problem.

Since 1996, we’ve been decrying what we call “pollaganda,” which, in short, is polling that is meant to drive rather than reflect public opinion. Polling in and of itself often becomes the substance of media coverage with the objective of swaying people to jump on the bandwagon. That’s gross malpractice. The job of the media is to report the facts as they happen. To quote the candidates accurately and fairly. To present the policy platforms of candidates and parties. To let voters decide based on the information at hand.

Reading those sentences might actually elicit a chuckle from you, dear reader, because you know good and well that the media abandoned that responsibility a long time ago in favor of partisan activism on behalf of the Democrat Party. That built-in bias is why media polling will continue to be suspect and wrong. It’s also why incessant polling about elections should almost entirely cease. At least it would if the media were interested in journalism instead of activism.

Instead, the media will navel gaze for two seconds, trot out some methodology “fixes,” and continue churning out polls because it sells advertising and, let’s face it, it works to turn out Democrat voters and perhaps suppress a few Republican ones. If a relative handful of would-be Trump voters in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Arizona were convinced it was hopeless and didn’t vote, the media’s propaganda served to swing an entire election. Don’t think they don’t know that and that they won’t continue doing it.


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