Polls Were Wrong in 2016: Polling Hasn’t Changed Much in 2020

Warning: Pollsters and pundits haven’t fixed the problems that caused them to be so disastrously wrong about the 2016 election.

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President Trump’s First 100 Days: Day One. President-elect Donald Trump walks to take his seat for the inaugural swearing-in ceremony at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Friday, January 20, 2017. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

Must We Trust Polls?

Polling, and the pundits who reported on it, were not reliable predictors of the outcome of 2016’s election. Has anything changed?

“This movie gets replayed again and again, where we believe these polls, and then they’re wrong.” — political analyst Chris Kofinis, CEO of Park Street Strategies. October 2019.

In the first few months after November 2016, there was a certain amount of soul-searching by major news networks embarrassed by their complete failure to anticipate Clinton’s loss.

“Another issue is that the polls underestimated Republicans up and down the ticket.” — New York Times, A 2016 Review: “Why Key State Polls Were Wrong About Trump”.

Some media elites excuse 2016 as an understandable failure to predict how the ignorant, uneducated masses would vote because the well-educated and affluent are more likely to respond in polls. But if that isn’t a systemic flaw in polling, nothing is.

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