I napped through it, but the sun came up the morning after the election, although maybe not for soon-to-be-unemployed Wolf Blitzer and his ilk or that pack of idiotic banshees on MSNBC. Cable TV will have its post-election shakeout, a subject for another day. Today, we write the obituary of a business that has taken a fatal bullet — political polling.
First, the conventional wisdom from USA Today:
“Donald Trump’s victory dealt a devastating blow to the credibility of the nation’s leading pollsters, calling into question their mathematical models, assumptions and survey methods. Several months of polls pegged Hillary Clinton as the leader in the polarizing race and as the leader in many key battleground states. … The results suggest pollsters may have wildly underestimated the number of hidden Trump voters — people who stampeded to the ballot box on Election Day but never showed up on the radar of surveyors.”
That covers the handful of honest pollsters who don’t care to count hicks who live outside big cities. Did the rest of them fail to see the Trump voters coming? Not at all. A dirty secret has been exposed: Almost all political polling is designed to influence public opinion, not reflect it. Media outlets take over to create a “horse race” narrative reflecting their bias, which runs toward propping up Democrats and bashing Republicans.
Phase one was declaring that Clinton had an almost insurmountable lead. When it became apparent from sparse crowds at her public appearances that voter enthusiasm was lacking, it was time to roll out the next phase: Trump’s closing fast, better get to the polls to stop this ogre. The final shift was ass-covering, conceding very late that Trump might be “within the margin of error” in battleground states.
No thinking person will ever fall for this crap again. (On a personal note, I am saddened that the perpetually clueless Frank Luntz, who often appears on Fox News, will never be able to afford better clothes.)
We close with a bouquet to the Los Angeles Times/University of Southern California tracking poll. Using a sample of 400 people checking in daily through the Internet, it correctly tracked shifts in the race and called the winner correctly.