Yesterday, a poll from Quinnipiac came out which showed Donald Trump getting trounced by essentially everyone in the 2020 Democratic field. Unsurprisingly, Joe Biden had the largest lead at 13 points.
There was also a story circulating that Trump got some bad internal polling news. It was then spun as some kind of scandal that he wouldn’t want his surugotes talking about it public, because politicians normally share internal polling or something. The rules are always changing, obviously.
Is all this really the devastating news the media is making it out to be? Donald Trump made his opinion be known.
The Fake News has never been more dishonest than it is today. Thank goodness we can fight back on Social Media. Their new weapon of choice is Fake Polling, sometimes referred to as Suppression Polls (they suppress the numbers). Had it in 2016, but this is worse…..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 12, 2019
No doubt, his response isn’t meant to be a scientific rebuttal for why current polling is wrong. He doesn’t need to do that though. As a snapshot in time to help strategic decisions, states polls may hold value. It’s acceptable to say “we’ve got some work to do there.” Trump’s campaign isn’t out there polling right now just for fun. But as a predictive measure, they are completely irrelevant and will remain so for a very long time.
To help with this point, the President got an unlikely assist from a normally staunch critic.
No it's not. General election polls mean next to nothing this far out anyway. And if we don't know what the polls actually said & instead just get some vague characterization of them, readers lack the basic Journalism 101 information to put the story into any meaningful context. https://t.co/tiwL2M5ceC
— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) June 12, 2019
Speaking of Quinnipiac specifically, here’s a reminder of why it’s probably best to not even pay attention to what they are putting out right now.
Your regular reminder that national polls are completely useless. The same Quinnipiac poll had Clinton +7 on Trump a week before Election Day: https://t.co/mkheQ7V5ht
— Steve Krakauer (@SteveKrak) June 11, 2019
Bill Nelson leads Rick Scott, 52-46 percent, in Quinnipiac poll https://t.co/dZOwZ1rivz
— Steve Bousquet (@stevebousquet) October 22, 2018
And here’s Quinnipiac’s final polling of the last Presidential election, taken on the 11/3/16.
A number of Quinnipiac University polls released on Tuesday also put Clinton ahead in four key swing states. In Florida, Clinton has 46 percent to Trump’s 45 percent; in Ohio she leads by 46 percent to Trump’s 41 percent; and in Pennsylvania she leads Trump 48 percent to 43 percent. In North Carolina, Clinton has 47 percent support to Trump’s 44 percent.
If you were keeping score, Trump ended up winning every single one of those states.
If polling was this volatile less than a week out, what value is polling 17 months out? Again, as a predictive measure, it’s completely meaningless and even Nate Silver is admitting that. There is so much that’s going to happen between now and the end of the general election. Joe Biden is not going to remain in witness protection forever. No candidate can maintain a campaign by giving low-energy speeches every two weeks. Hillary tried that after her health issues escalated in 2016 and she fell flat down the stretch.
If it’s not Biden, then Trump will most likely be facing an admitted socialist with zero charisma, whether that be Warren or Sanders. The attack ads start to write themselves at that point, especially regarding the economy, where Trump maintains an approval rating over 50%. The race, regardless of who Trump is facing, will compress greatly. In the summer of 2015, Trump was trailing Clinton by 17 points and 24 points in two separate polls.
In short, the landscape today is nothing like what it will be in late 2020. That doesn’t mean you sit on your hands and just ignore polling and the Trump campaign isn’t doing that. We are seeing them make moves behind the scenes already. But the breathless coverage yesterday about the “bad news” for Trump was mostly wishful thinking.
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