Boots & Sabers

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1253, 28 Apr 17

Still Believing Polls?


3. We still trust the polls too much.
Helmut Norpoth, political scientist at Stony Brook University

During the campaign, almost nobody in the media gave Trump a chance to win the election. That gloomy prospect largely derived from his poor standing in the polls, both nationally and in the major battleground states, with almost no poll showing Trump leading in the three states that clinched his victory in the Electoral College—Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. This failure, one might think, would give the media some pause in seizing on polls that now show Trump with low approval, the worst of any president at this stage. But no, polls nowadays feed news coverage that gives Trump little chance to make it through his first term and assumes there’s no way for him to avoid a midterm disaster. Granted, presidential approval is not the same as a vote choice, but it is a proven predictor of the vote in midterm and presidential elections. It is odd to see journalists retain their faith in a discredited source instead of questioning its reliability. Shouldn’t they instead launch an inquiry into the 2016 polling fiasco?

There are some pretty decent polls out there, but they should be taken for what they are – a possible indicator. They do not necessarily represent reality.


1253, 28 April 2017


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