Pollsters who suffered a major blow to their credibility with Donald Trump’s victory are trying to figure out how they got the election so wrong.
Most polls were confident of a win for Hillary Clinton with many even predicting a landslide victory for the Democratic nominee. But the mathematical models and survey methods proved to be way off and pollsters have gone back to the drawing board to understand what happened.
— Cool Hand Luke (@AmericanBand911) November 26, 2016
Former Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway poked at the pollsters and pundits in a Twitter post on Friday. Conway reminded them that the campaign had been “mocked or ignored” as Trump maintained that the polls were not reliable.
This could have been avoided PREelection. We tried, but were mocked or ignored. Pollsters go back to drawing board https://t.co/E1Exf2ETaA
— Kellyanne Conway (@KellyannePolls) November 26, 2016
According to The Hill:
But many of the highest-profile models fell short, as did many of the polls used as the backbone for the most bullish predictions.
FiveThirtyEight pollster Nate Silver, who preached a healthy skepticism about the models that predicted a certain Clinton election, had Clinton with a 71 percent chance of winning.
Just one polling company, the Republican-leaning Trafalgar Group, polled Trump ahead in Michigan and Pennsylvania. Besides that poll, conducted days before the election, not one other poll since August had Trump ahead of Clinton.
In Wisconsin, Clinton swept all 19 polls conducted since June, according to RealClearPolitics.
“In 2012, we had national polls that were off more [than 2016]. But they were off in different directions, so there wasn’t that herd mentality,” Democratic pollster Celinda Lake said. She also pointed to the historic unpopularity of both candidates as another problem.
— THE METROPOLITAN (@TheMetDet) November 26, 2016
Looking ahead to 2020, pollsters plan to adopt a “mixed-mode” approach featuring different polling methods and outside data, as well as reaching people online and through smartphones, not just landline phones, the Hill reported.
Social media conversations are another metric pollsters plan to use as they study external data sources in future polling.
“We’re consuming too much horse-race polling and not enough of what is the mood of the country and what voters are actually thinking,” Republican pollster Patrick Ruffini said. “It’s not a replacement for polls but it improves the overall prediction when you throw it into the model.”
@FemalesForTrump Pollsters can’t believe the junk they pedaled wasn’t taken in hook, line, and stinker. Not as smart as they thought.
— Notsostout (@notsostout) November 25, 2011
@KellyannePolls pollsters only needed to drive around look at the signs in people’s yards or ask the ones who work
— Angela Denes (@AngieDenes) November 26, 2016
— Norma Beian (@BeianNorma) November 26, 2016
Pollster John Zogby, founder of the “Zogby Poll,” said people put too much faith in the polls as a guarantee of who will win.
“We need to take the word ‘prediction’ out of this business,” he said. “If I’ve got to lose 20 pounds between now and Nov. 8, the scale will tell me how I’m doing. … But it’s not going to tell me what my weight will be on Nov. 8.”
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