Democratic candidate Joe Biden is leading President Donald Trump by up to 10 points nationwide. Yet polls can be wrong, and for all the talk of a Biden “landslide” in the media, Trump’s supporters likely remember 2016, when their candidate pulled off a shock victory against Hillary Clinton, despite being given only a seven percent chance of winning by the New York Times two weeks before election day.
Should Trump once again dispatch his Democratic challenger, the polling industry is finished, Republican pollster Frank Luntz told Fox News on Thursday.
“Well, I hate to acknowledge it, because that’s my industry,” he told Fox anchor Bret Baier. “But the public will have no faith. No confidence. If Donald Trump surprises people… my profession is done.”
Luntz insists that his polling is accurate this time, and that Biden will win. However, undecided voters may be leaning toward Trump.
As the two men faced off in the final presidential debate in Tennessee on Thursday night, Luntz organized a focus group of undecided voters. After the showdown, a majority of these voters were leaning toward backing Trump. They described him as “controlled,” “poised,” and “surprisingly presidential,” while Biden was thought of as “vague,” “elusive,” and “defensive.”
Luntz is a longtime critic of Trump, and a recently released email – found on Hunter Biden’s now-infamous laptop – apparently showed him massaging his predictions in favor of Biden back in 2012, when the then-VP was debating Mitt Romney’s running mate, Paul Ryan. Luntz appeared to confirm the email’s authenticity in a tweet, but denied it was any kind of bombshell, saying he’s known the Biden family since the 1990s.
However, if a Biden-friendly pollster, backed by his latest focus group, is publicly opening the door to a potential Trump victory, the election gurus may not be as confident in their figures as they let on.
FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver is another one of these gurus, and his predictions are taken seriously in Washington. Right now, Silver gives Biden an 87 percent chance of winning. Yet the nation’s premier pollster has also been hedging his bets. On the same day that he bumped Biden’s chances up to 87 percent, Silver took to Twitter to remind his followers that “Trump still does have a nontrivial chance.”
“There’s still some time left,” he continued. “Tipping-point state polls are closer than national polls, sometimes polls are wrong… and mail voting and court disputes create some additional uncertainties.”
The Economist’s G. Elliot Morris is similarly all-in on Biden, giving the Democrat a 92 percent chance of winning on November 3. Morris is confident in his prediction, overly so according to Silver. Yet even though Morris has declared the race “very probably” over for Trump, he couldn’t help but write an article explaining exactly how he may be wrong.
As 2016 proved, all the hard numbers in the world can’t predict how the American public will vote on election day. Luntz, Silver, and Morris may have access to mountains of raw data, and may have developed models they trust wholeheartedly. Yet when even the slightest room for error could tank their careers for good, their reputations could well depend on publicly hedging their bets.
“You can get it wrong once,” Luntz tweeted on Wednesday. “But if they get it wrong a second time and Trump does win, it’s going to be the end of public polling in politics.”
Think your friends would be interested? Share this story!
© 2020, paradox. All rights reserved.