UPDATED 10:40 AM PT – Friday, May 14, 2021
With an exception to restaurants, very few industries had a worse year in 2020 than the polling industry. Unfortunately, people are reportedly no longer very trusting of polls.
According to a panel of expert pollsters, polling for the 2020 election reached a 40-year low in accuracy. Overall, popular vote polls were 3.9 percent off in 2020. This was a major increase from 2016 when major polling outlets missed the mark by a massive 1.3 percent.
Experts have pointed out what led to the miss in 2016 was different than what went wrong in 2020. Though a massive last second swing of undecided Trump voters led to his 2016 win, in 2020 people chose not to tell pollsters that they were voting for President Donald Trump. All indications suggested people had made up their minds long before November third.
This became evident when experts looked back at how many people simply declined to even respond to polling calls. More specifically, the people who declined to answer these calls were mostly Republicans who, because of societal pressures, felt nervous to say they would be voting to re-elect President Trump.
Another issue experts identified was the number of people who refused to talk to pollsters because President Trump had called them fake or phony. However, this excuse is being highly scrutinized by critics who argue this is just polling experts blaming President Trump for their monumental miss.
After all, many of the major polling firms are the same mainstream media outlets who criticized President Trump so heavily that his followers were afraid to voice support for him, even over the phone. Many firms believe they are still reliable because the polling for the 2018 midterm elections was highly accurate.
However, many others still argue that pollsters can’t identify accurate results on President Trump because many of his supporters feel like they will be publicly shamed by the mainstream media and Democrats nationwide.
This isn’t true for any politician who ran in the 2018 midterms as very few lawmakers received the amount of coverage President Trump did. Additionally, a 2017 Harvard study found that 93 percent of networks like CNN had coverage that was negative.
To avoid making these same mistakes moving forward, polling outlets must seriously rethink their methods in future elections. Otherwise, the entire polling industry risks becoming totally irrelevant.