Sometimes the media produces a take so hot that it burns with the fire of a thousand suns. That happened tonight when the New York Times, once considered the paper of record, but now considered the paper of bird cages, decided to try to explain the massive polling failures that plagued the 2020 election.
In the last week of the election, we saw multiple polls released that showed Joe Biden up by double digits nationally. Those were nowhere near reality, as his popular vote margin is going to settle closer to four points. On the state level, Wisconsin was especially bad, with the polling average missing that race by around 7 points. Other notable whiffs include Florida, which Trump ended up winning, and Michigan, which he was supposed to get trounced in.
It wasn’t just the presidential election that was so badly flubbed by the pollsters though. In fact, some of the biggest “errors” happened in the Senate races, where Mitch McConnell was supposedly in trouble, yet he ended up winning by 20 points. A similar situation happened in South Carolina. Lindsey Graham cemented a 14-point win Tuesday night after the latest poll had shown him tied with his challenger. Susan Collins in Maine had not led in a single poll in months. She ended up winning comfortably.
So what’s to blame for this? Is it that pollsters have bad methodology, purposely produce polls to influence the election, and/or simply suck at their jobs?
Nah, it’s probably just QAnon, at least according to the Times.
The polls were just as wrong in 2016—when QAnon didn’t even exist pic.twitter.com/MxHk8tGf9T
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) November 6, 2020
It’s Friday night, so that means gifs are fair game in my writings.
I’m not even sure what to say to this. Has the media gone so insane that they think they can blame an irrelevant conspiracy, mostly perpetrated as a troll for literally everything? Nate Silver sucks at his job aggregating polls, so it’s the fault of 4Chan trolls or something? Quinnipiac’s polling has as much value as a turd in the sun. Must be QAnon, right?
What exactly is the suggestion here? That QAnon pushers won’t talk to pollsters, thereby harming the accuracy of their samples? While that’s ludicrous on its face, it doesn’t even make sense on a technical level. There simply aren’t enough QAnon supporters out there to influence a national poll. What the Times is suggesting is so conspiratorially stupid that it would make Coast to Coast AM blush.
Here’s an idea. Maybe stop trying to make excuses for the failures of a polling industry that is more grift than science. These pollsters were warned after 2016 to change things and to stop making bad assumptions. They didn’t, and now their reputations are paying the piper. That’s on them, not QAnon or whatever other idiocy the Times wants to blame to shift responsibility.
(Please follow me on Twitter! @bonchieredstate)