It’s hard at times to think back to 2012 when the polls consistently showed Barack Obama with a lead. Many thought the polls were wrong. Some believed the polls were “skewed” favorable towards Obama. Dean Chambers created a website that re-weighted the polls to “unskew” in order to show what the situation truly looked liked: Romney was ahead.
Others, like me, just couldn’t make heads or tails of the results. Polls would show Romney with 7-9 point leads among independents but still show him trailing Obama. It just didn’t make any sense. Later, we came to find out that many of the “independents” in the polls were actually long time Republican voters who just chose not to identify as Republicans. Pollsters took that into consideration and weighted accordingly.
It was a trap many people fell into. Even the pros. Dana Perino was one:
In the 2012 election, Republicans believed that the polls were skewed in Obama’s favor, and did not take conservative enthusiasm into consideration. I was one of them — I believed we were going to win. I believed the polls were wrong.
Karl Rove, on the night of the election, was still clinging to the belief the polls were incorrect.
In the end, the pollsters were right.
And they are right now. Just as they were, for the most part, during primary season.
It’s just that now, it is Trump supporters who have fallen into the trap of discounting the polls. It’s wrong and they’re going to wind up very disappointed when the voting starts. Granted, there is time for the polls to change and polls are not a forecast but a snapshot of what people are thinking right now. That said, dismissing the polls outright is a big mistake.
The second mistake is discounting the polls in favor of social media reach and the number of people showing up to Trump rallies. The people showing up to rallies are baked in supporters. They are people who are going to vote for Trump, no questions asked. Social media reach is absurd. Trump may have millions of followers on Twitter, but that is not indicative of support when the voting starts. Eric Bolling at Fox News has turned to this silly reasoning and as Dana Perino said, he’s simply lying to Trump supporters by telling them the polls are wrong.
The better polling firms get the results right more often than wrong. It’s what they’re paid to do. The notion they’re conspiring to depress Trump voters by showing Hillary leading when she’s not, is ridiculous conspiracy theory blather. Look the averages from RCP: (click for full size)
These are all the polls taken entirely during August. Trump is in trouble at this moment. Hillary Clinton has a nearly 6 point lead in the averages. Trump is doing worse in many state polls. It is the reason states like Georgia, Arizona, Missouri and North Carolina are toss-up states.
All of the talk about “rigged polls”, “rigged elections” and whining about media coverage is all being set up as a cover for a big loss. If Trump loses, he and his supporters will claim the election was “stolen.” It may make them feel better, but it won’t be based on reality.