Media Learned Nothing From 2016 Polling Fiasco
A Commentary By Brian C. Joondeph
For months leading up to the 2016 presidential election, the media was confidently predicting Hillary Clinton would beat Donald Trump in a landslide. They clung to this narrative even when the election was all but over.
On election night of November 8, 2016, at 10:20 PM ET, the New York Times still proclaimed that Clinton had an 85% chance of winning. Hillary was already gulping her second bottle of consolation chardonnay, knowing that her coronation was not to be, yet her official campaign propaganda outlet, the NY Times, continued to push the big lie in Baghdad Bob style.
This past week, Politico gleefully told its beltway audience that, “Biden extends lead over Trump amid protests.” They cited a Fox News Poll of 1,343 registered voters. Not likely voters as more accurate pollsters such as Rasmussen Reports survey but those simply appearing on voter rolls, even if many of them won’t actually vote on election day.
Political identification of those surveyed was 47% Democrat-41% Republican, a six-point swing favoring the media’s preferred candidate. When respondents were asked who they would vote for, 50% said Biden, while 38% said Trump. Take away the Democrat oversampling, and it’s only a six-point margin.
That must be it for Trump and his supporters. How could he overcome a double-digit deficit to the Democrat candidate? Just look at Trump’s Tulsa rally with empty seats despite over a million tickets requested. First the virus, then the protests and riots, now anarchy as the new normal in America’s inner cities, all destroying the Trump presidency.
Not surprisingly, after the media spent the previous week predicting illness and death for anyone attending the Trump rally and with attendees threatened by Black Lives Matter protesters, many chose to stay home. Not widely discussed, however, was the 7.7 million Tulsa rally viewers on Fox News, setting a Saturday viewership record.
Can Trump overcome a 12-point deficit to Biden? Aside from Biden’s failing cognition and mental acuity becoming more pronounced and noticeable as the campaign progresses, history may provide an answer to that question.
On June 15, 2016, almost four years ago to the day, CNN reported, “Hillary Clinton has a 12-point lead over Donald Trump nationally, a new Bloomberg Politics poll shows.” That was a poll not of simply registered voters, but likely voters, and we know how that poll aged over the subsequent months. Is history repeating itself with another 12-point lead over Trump?
It was no better in mid-October 2016 when Newsweek confidently predicted, “Hillary Clinton on track for Electoral College landslide,” based on a Reuters/Ipsos poll. This poll was taken on the heels of the Access Hollywood October surprise tape release which like everything else was designed to torpedo Trump’s campaign or presidency.
Deja vu with the media believing the same polls as they did four years ago? Have they learned nothing?
Rasmussen Reports publishes a daily presidential tracking poll of likely, not simply registered, voters. On June 23, Trump’s total approval is one point ahead of Obama’s number exactly eight years ago, 45 to 44 percent.
Remember that Obama was cruising to reelection with a gale force tailwind from the media and no resistance from tongue-tied Republicans, while Trump faces a hurricane force media headwind and interestingly the same unhelpful Republican party. Yet Trump is as popular as “The One” was at the same point in their respective presidencies.
Polling wunderkind Nate Silver agrees, saying, “President Trump can absolutely win the 2020 presidential election despite his significant dip in the polls against former Vice President Joe Biden.”
It seems the media doesn’t understand polls, despite commissioning and paying big bucks for them. Polling registered rather than likely voters and oversampling Democrats will skew the results. Are these polls designed to reflect public opinion - or shape it?
Brian C. Joondeph, MD, is a Denver-based physician and freelance writer whose pieces have appeared in American Thinker, Daily Caller, Rasmussen Reports and other publications. Follow him on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and QuodVerum.
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