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Douglas Andrews / Nov. 6, 2020

Polling as Vote Suppression

It’s about time we call out woefully inaccurate polling for what it really is.

Every four years, we hear a familiar refrain from Democrats: Count every vote. It’s a powerful mantra, and it’s hard to argue against. After all, who could object to counting every vote?

But what about votes that never get counted because they never got cast? Yes, we’re talking about voter suppression, but not in the way you think. Poll taxes and literacy tests are a thing of the Jim Crow past, but the willful spread of disinformation to depress the turnout of certain voters has surreptitiously taken their place.

What kind of disinformation? Woefully and perhaps intentionally inaccurate polling. Think about it: Are you more inclined to head to the polls, stand in a long line, and vote for your candidate if you think it’ll make a difference? Of course. No one disputes this. But neither should anyone dispute the notion that a voter whose candidate is hopelessly behind is less likely to head to the polls than a voter whose candidate is comfortably ahead. Why? Because we humans gravitate toward winners, not losers. It’s why the Yankees sell more swag than the Phillies, and ‘Bama more than Vandy. And it’s this aversion to losers that’s exploited by inaccurate polls and the perfidious pollsters who produce them.

There’s a word, in fact, for a willfully inaccurate poll. It’s called a lie. Accordingly, there’s also a word for the “professionals” who produced polls showing Donald Trump losing to Joe Biden by 8, 9, 10, 11, even 17 points. They’re called liars.

Merely calling them liars, though, is too tame an indictment. They’re vote suppressors, and they should be shamed out of polite society.

As Victor Davis Hanson points out, “A CNN poll had Trump down 12 percentage points nationally entering the final week before the election. An ABC News/Washington Post poll in late October claimed Biden was leading in Wisconsin by 17 points. That state’s voting ended up nearly even. YouGov’s election model showed Biden prevailing with a landslide win in the Electoral College. Progressive statistics guru Nate Silver had for weeks issued pseudo-scientific analyses of a Trump wipeout. Pollsters were widely wrong in 2016. Yet they learned nothing about their flawed methodologies. So how do they remain credible after 2020, when most were wildly off again?”

How do they remain credible? It’s a great question. In fact, it’s the question. If we conservatives and Republicans continue to tolerate and engage them, we continue to enable their efforts to suppress our votes. (In fairness: Rasmussen, Trafalgar, Susquehanna, and a handful of others were spot-on with their electoral polling, and they should be commended and rewarded for it. The others? Out with them.)

One of the most remarkable things about these corrupt pollsters is that they work for highly recognizable and ostensibly respectable news organizations, and these organizations appear to have no interest whatsoever in protecting the credibility of their brands. Consider, for example, the egregiousness of the polling done by NBC News/Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, CNBC, CNN, Quinnipiac, and The Economist. Heck, even Fox News has gotten into the voter-suppression act.

Speaking of the et tu, Brute statisticians at Fox News, it’s to their eternal shame that they still show Arizona’s 11 electoral votes in Joe Biden’s column. Even left-leaning polling guru Nate Silver thinks the network’s ridiculously early call “should be retracted now,” and not even the ardent Trump haters at CNN are calling Arizona for their guy.

It’s hard to know whether FNC’s decision to make such an irresponsibly early call was borne of malice or mere idiocy, but it hardly matters. What it did was throw a late-evening lifeline to a badly listing Biden campaign — a lifeline that no doubt buoyed its people. The network’s “Decision Desk” director, Arnon Mishkin, has thus become the 2020 equivalent of CBS’s Dan Rather, who infamously called Florida for Al Gore before the state’s panhandle had finished voting.

As for the Biden landslide that wasn’t, there was a time Tuesday night when that ol’ 2016 dread was beginning to set in. You could hear it, for example, in the tone of CNN’s Jake Tapper, who attempted to distance himself from all the leftist prognosticators who’d been rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of a Biden blowout.

“It’s just not going to be as some Democrats were hoping for,” said Tapper. “They thought it was going to be an early landslide, which was really always a pipe dream.”

It wasn’t just what some Democrats were hoping for, Jake. It was all of you.

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