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Pollsters Missed the Target – Overreacted to Favoring Dems by Favoring GOP in Midterms

Donald Trump via Gage Skidmore Flickr

ANALYSIS – ‘Red ripple.’ For at least the last several elections, pollsters have consistently oversampled Democrats and undercounted Republicans, wrongly skewing the polls in the Dems’ favor.

This is something I have written about before, and the pollster errors include the ‘shy Trump supporter’ effect where conservatives simply shun pollsters or avoid giving their true views out of fear of retribution or being ‘canceled.’

Frank Luntz, a political strategist said to The Hill: “We knew from 2016, 2018 and even 2020 that Trump voters tended not to respond to pollsters because they thought that the results would be used against them.” 

This time around the pollsters seem to have screwed up in the opposite direction, overcompensating by overweighting Republican supporters and predicting a ‘Red Wave’ in the midterm elections that never materialized.

I must admit, I too assumed that the pollsters would continue to err in favor of Dems and hence believed the polling was still undercounting Republicans.

But as they say – you should never assume because then you make an ‘ass out of u and me.’

And as Luntz added, “past errors caused pollsters to over-index Republicans.”

The Daily Caller News Foundation just did a solid analysis on this latest pollster screw-up.

As the Daily Caller reports:

Weighting Republican respondents more heavily than Democratic respondents in polls led to an overestimation of GOP support, which created the mirage of a “red wave” this midterm season, polling experts told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

In the House of Representatives, FiveThirtyEight, based on an aggregation of major polls, predicted a 228-seat GOP majority as the most likely outcome, while RealClearPolitics had projected at least 227 seats, with additions from 34 tossup races. In the Senate, FiveThirtyEight forecast 51 seats for the GOP, with 52 and 53 seats being as likely, while RealClearPolitics forecast 53 seats for Senate Republicans.

The results were significantly different from these projections. Though some races are yet to be called, Democrats retained control of the Senate, having won 50 seats as of writing, while Republicans, though projected to win the House, will have a narrow majority close to the 218 seats necessary for one.

The Daily Caller continues:

In the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections, former President Donald Trump significantly overperformed polling in several states that pegged him to lose, with his unexpected 2016 wins in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and North Carolina giving him an Electoral College majority to win. Though Trump lost the 2020 election, he still won states like Florida and Ohio and came close to winning races in Georgia, Arizona and Pennsylvania, which polling firms had estimated would be easily won by Joe Biden.

In all, in 2020, polls underestimated the presidential popular vote, swing-state vote, Democratic House majority and the Democratic Senate majority. The American Academy of Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) called it the “worst performance for polls since 1980.”

And this appears to have caused the severe pollster overcompensation we saw leading up to the midterms.

In artillery, you often fire beyond (long) and before (short of) a target to close in on it and ‘fire for effect.’ This is called ‘bracketing.’

The idea is that on the third salvo you should hit the target close to spot on.

Let’s see if these varied pollster results that undercounted GOP voters and then overcounted them were the ‘bracketing’ needed prior to their getting the 2024 polls right.

I’m not optimistic. GAND

Opinions expressed by contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of Great America News Desk.


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