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How much should we believe the polls?

Updated: Nov 5, 2020

Rush Limbaugh said last week, “Ignore the polls and negative headlines. They are designed to mislead and make you feel discouraged.”

“Don’t fall for it!” El Rushbo added.

He has a point.

For months, we have been told that Joe Biden is going to win this election, Democrats will keep the House and Republicans might lose the senate. National polls continue to put Biden ahead of Donald Trump. How Democrats do overall will obviously affect down ballot Republicans, which might be bad news for the GOP.

Their mantra: All good news for Biden, all bad for Trump and Republicans.

Yet, how much of this is informed analysis and how much is simply the left making it’s own luck? How much of this thinking is based on hard data and how much is just creating a narrative and wishful thinking?

We all know the pollsters and prognosticators got it wrong in 2016. The media and the left—sorry for repeating myself—sought to will Hillary Clinton into office. That strategy failed elites in the last election.

Why isn’t there more noise about some of the more promising recent polls for Trump?

A USA Today story on Monday noted that while Biden still leads in 10 of 12 swing states, “President Donald Trump gained on his Democratic challenger Joe Biden in national polling averages, and in nine of 12 contested states.”

“Biden's average lead is only 3 percentage points or more in five of the swing states, but those include the crucial states of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin that Trump flipped in 2016,” USA Today noted.

USA Today’ sources are the collective averages from the Real Clear Politics and FiveThirtyEight polls. These national polls combined have Biden up by 8.6% a week out from the election.

The same poll averages had Hillary Clinton up 5.6% at this point in 2016. Obviously that was wrong.

A new Rasmussen national poll on Monday had Trump ahead of Biden by one point. A Trafalgar poll released Sunday showed Trump beating Biden by two points in North Carolina, a state the president won in 2016 after Barack Obama carried it twice. A recent Axios/Tableau poll had Trump and Biden neck and neck in Nevada.

There are more. But my point is not to do pollsters’ job for them, only that all the data and complex analysis in 2016 wrapped up in a narrative of an assured Hillary Clinton victory did not deliver that victory.

We shouldn’t fall for it again. For all the politicians and talking heads who insist Joe Biden has 2020 in the bag, remember that Donald Trump can still just as easily win.

Don’t let the left write the 2020 election script. Don’t get discouraged.

Don’t fall for it.


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