Election 2020 "The Bigger Surprise": The Polls Will be Proven Wrong, Once Again
By Mr. E
[ NOTE: The writer is an Independent, "NPA / No Party Affiliation," not a Democrat or Republican, and is not supporting either candidate ]
Almost everyone who has a familiarity with mid-20th century American history knows the story of the 1948 US presidential election, most famously publicized by the inaccurate “Dewey defeats Truman” newspapers, which incidentally carry a high financial value to collectors.
There is no need to go back nearly as far as that however, of course, to prove the difficulties involved in political polling and the resulting inaccuracies, as was demonstrated a bit over a half century later in the US presidential election of 2000, and again in 2016.
In every election from 2000 to 2016, even when the winner was correctly predicted based on polls, those political pre-election polls that ask for whom the respondent plans to vote have still been quite unreliable, with the actual votes for the candidates often being far higher or lower than rolling political poll numbers from even the day immediately preceding elections had suggested.
Speaking as a sociologist and social researcher with extensive training in research methods, there are many important technical details that need to be properly addressed in the preparation and carrying out of the hoped-for nationally representative sample survey (and also individual statewide surveys in heavily contested states), and due to many factors the actual final sample often is far from being truly representative.
Some of the biggest reasons for this are:
A. Undecided Likely Voters. While the percentage of undecided voters in the 2020 election campaign is less than four years ago (CNBC estimates it at about 5%), it still could be a large enough number that upon deciding who to vote for only on election day itself, could sharply cause a large change in the support of the candidates, (at least) enough to prove the polls wrong, again.
B. Economically Poor Voters. In considering poor people who do not have a landline telephone, or a cell phone, and who also do not have an internet connection, the only way for pollsters to ask those people for whom they plan to vote is to send someone to physically knock on their door, or to find and interview them in public places, which due to Covid-19 and other reasons are not being done.
Since no pre-election polling organizations and no polling companies conduct those face-to-face interviews, a growing segment of the population is being excluded from the polls.
Those who dismiss this category as tiny and insignificant will be proven wrong again, as the economic squeeze on the 99 percent has grown massively due to the pandemic and is causing the number of people in this category to grow.
C. Cellular Wireless / Internet Only Voters. A similar point is that there is a growing percentage of people now who have and use only a cell phone, and do not have a landline at all. Then another group of people has neither a cell phone nor a landline, and has only internet service.
A major result of these developing trends is that most pollsters have gotten more sophisticated over the years to attempt to do whatever possible to minimize (if not eliminate) biases to the survey results, with varying degrees of success.
Random digit dialing, if configured properly to include cell phone numbers and VOIP numbers, makes a large improvement over the years-ago method of using the public phone directory to derive the sample.
However, it still leaves out the small percentage of people who have no phone number of any type, who are not able to be contacted by phone.
Another improvement is that recently some polls are including combined results from internet respondents and telephone respondents, yet that still again leaves out the small percentage with no internet and no phones.
Even for people with telephones, there is a large percentage of people who do not answer calls from unknown numbers that they do not know and recognize, another factor that could confound the results.
D. The Weather. Cold weather has already arrived much earlier than usual this year in the Northeast, and between now and November 3 the weather could significantly worsen even more, with extreme cold and even snow, especially in heavily-contested states in the geographic "top row," meaning Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Illinois, the latter two of which have very frequently (almost always!) been among the very last to decide for whom to vote, and that only on election day itself.
Biden's small lead in polls in the most heavily contested states is within the margin of error in all or most of those polls, is less than the lead Hillary Clinton had in those same states on the same close-to-election-day date four years ago, and could easily evaporate and be reversed due at least in part to extreme weather conditions that are not whatsoever unlikely, and that usually cause lower voter turnout in the affected places.
E. Overconfidence. It also could be that supporters of the candidate leading in the polls may decide there is no need to actually go to the polls to vote; they conclude that since their candidate is winning in the polls, they will surely "win" on election day, even without their own personal vote.
The larger the number of haughty and arrogantly-behaving people that do not actually cast their votes becomes, the more likely it is that the pre-election opinion polls from even the day before the election will be wrong.
This possibility of overconfidence is not unlikely whatsoever, and combined with the previous point "[unpleasant, even severe] weather", could significantly affect the final total of actual votes cast.
Another of the ways that many, in fact most, of the polls are inaccurate and misleading is that they only ask about and report support for Trump or Biden, what about voters who plan to vote for someone else, including writing-in Bernie Sanders or Kanye West?
The truth of the matter is, because many people hate Trump, there are many people who are reluctant to admit to a pollster that they are planning to vote for Trump. Also, I have spoken personally with people who have stated that when asked to be a respondent in a political poll, they agree and then purposely say answers that are not their true intentions for voting on election day, with the goal of contributing to inaccurate polling results.
Also, as 2020 is expected to see literally four or five or more times as many people voting by mail rather than in person (due to the pandemic), that could result in surprises, including what for a time up until about exactly a month before election day was the most popular scenario: an uncertain election outcome, where the result is not known with certainty within 24 hours after election day, a "contested election".
The mainstream media especially, and many, many people who are too quick to place their complete faith and trust in pre-election political polls, even those conducted by outfits with decades of polling experience, are going to receive a huge surprise in the upcoming 2020 election that is drawing ever closer each day.
Exactly four years ago, less than one month before (only a few weeks before) election 2016, the number of people, websites and organizations predicting a Trump victory could be counted on one hand. If that is an exaggeration, it is surely true that only a tiny minority were predicting Trump to become president and for Hillary Clinton to go home.
And we now see in reality Yogi Berra's words: "It's deja vu all over again".
Due to their massive hatred of Trump, almost all of the mainstream media is certain again (as they were four years ago), that Trump will lose the upcoming election, as that is what they hope and desire. And the vast majority of people, websites and organizations who are not part of the media but who also make predictions, are extremely confident that Trump will be sent home by voters on November 3, 2020.
The huge surprise received by the very large number of people, websites and organizations who incorrectly predicted the results of the 2016 election, and those that believed their prediction, is about to be repeated.
It takes a very strong will and deep analysis to predict the opposite of what almost everyone is already sure of, yet the polls will be proven wrong once again when Trump is re-elected in a few weeks from now.
Make no mistake about it, election 2020 will be a repeat of election 2016: The polls will be proven wrong, Once Again.