All the ways pollsters and the media were wrong

Like Clinton, Joe Biden was supposed to be a sure winner — possibly in a landslide victory over President Trump.

  • Polling “guru” Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight gave Biden a whopping 89 percent chance of winning.
  • RealClearPolitics’ compilation of polls showed Biden with an average 7.2 percentage-point national lead; some polls had the spread in the double digits at various times. In the top battleground states, Biden averaged a 2.3-point lead, according to RCP.
  • Analysts talked of a “blue wave” — with Democrats winning the Senate as well as the White House, and gaining dozens of seats for their House majority. The message, amplified by a feverishly anti-Trump, left-leaning media, was clear: Donald Trump was toast, a one-term president who’d drag the whole party down. Count on it. And it sure is about time.

…Biden may win — but it’s clear the pollsters couldn’t have been more off. Again.

Their predictions weren’t just wrong — but often wildly so. As of Wednesday morning, Biden had a mere 1.9 percentage-point lead over Trump; the prez had a good chance of prevailing overall in electoral votes.

  • Before Election Day, the ABC-Washington Post poll gave Biden a whopping 17-point lead in Wisconsin; on Wednesday, his lead was 0.6 percent. “That’s not a mistake. That’s not an error,” noted pollster Frank Luntz. “That’s polling malpractice, and you have to go to tremendous lengths to be able to get something that wrong so close to the election.”
  • Similarly, Quinnipiac had Biden with a five-point margin in Florida and four points in Ohio; Trump wound up ahead in both states — by three and eight points, respectively.


So much for a Biden blowout.

Republicans also seem likely to retain control of the Senate, with Democrats having picked up just one net seat by Wednesday morning, and several “endangered” GOP seats proving safe. And Dems lost House seats in New Mexico, Florida and Oklahoma that they picked up in 2018.

What went wrong with the polling? Some possible explanations stand out.

One of the biggest may be that Trump voters have given up on mainstream media and polling. Yes, it may be “shy voters” in some places it’s considered uncouth to like him, but many others are actively hostile to the institutions that have ignored and insulted them. They show up in [the tens of thousands] at Trump rallies…but they don’t answer the phone to answer questions.

Will these mistakes make pollsters change their ways? Will the media show any humility in the face of again misjudging Trump and his voters? The answer, alas, is probably no.

But they aren’t the only ones with egg on their faces:

The Hispanic vote

“I will say we’ve been sounding the alarm about Dem vulnerabilities w/ Latinos for a long, long time,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) tweeted Tuesday night.

So she diagnoses the problem — does she realize she’s the cause?

Trump won Cubans in Florida not because Biden wasn’t liberal enough, he won because Hispanic immigrants from socialist countries such as Cuba and Venezuela have rejected that ideology.

Perhaps she thinks there’s some untapped well of like-minded young Latino voters, but there’s little evidence. Trump increased his share of the Hispanic vote in Florida to nearly 50 percent from 35 percent in 2016.

Why? A top Democrat told the Daily Mail that “Defund the police killed us.”

Is AOC the politician who blasted New York City for not taking enough money away from the NYPD, saying, “Defunding police means defunding police,” really the best spokesperson to win those voters back?


It’s ironic that the man who coined “It’s the economy, stupid” never learned that lesson. Democratic strategist James Carville, who predicted we’d all be going to bed at 10 p.m. with Biden as the winner, said this election would be all about Trump and COVID. CNN was wall-to-wall with this wisdom.

Surprise: Exit polls said the top issue for most voters, 34 percent, was the economic recovery. COVID-19 was 18 percent.

Perhaps the electorate saw through the hypocrisy of those like CNN’s Chris Cuomo, who pounded the table about “irresponsible rallies” even when his own landlord warned him about not wearing a mask.

Bloomberg’s ‘game-changing’ billions

After his own bid for the presidential nomination collapsed, former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg (a lifelong Democrat who became a Republican to run for mayor, switched to independent while mayor, and finally re-registered as a Democrat in 2018 to run for president)  vowed to spend “whatever it takes” to help Biden defeat Trump. Oops!

Democrats could hardly contain their excitement when the billionaire announced a $100 million investment for advertising and ground campaign work in Florida, which he later spread to Texas and Ohio. The Associated Press and Politico both predicted that the donation would shape the campaign and all but guarantee a Democratic win in the key battleground states.

But all three states were called for Trump just hours after the polls closed. (Trump won Florida 51.2% to 47.8%; Ohio 53.4% to 45.2% and Texas 52.2% to 46.4%).  Bloomberg isn’t heading for the bread lines soon, but what a colossal waste of money— and a blow to his arrogance.

A ‘blue wave’ adding women in the House

Analysts confidently predicted that Democrats would add seats to their House majority. Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Election Day even bragged, “Tonight, House Democrats are poised to further strengthen our majority — the biggest, most diverse, most dynamic, women-led House majority in history.”

In fact, they lost seats all across the country — and at least seven new Republican women will join the House in January.

Biden bailouts for New York

For months, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio have put off making hard budget decisions, saying a Biden presidency would deliver a vast federal bailout of New York and other overspending states. Just this week, de Blasio insisted a Biden win means “we get a major stimulus,” and “that’s going to turn things around.”

Oops! As E.J. McMahon noted in The Post, that also requires a Democratic US Senate — which the results suggest won’t happen, as supposedly vulnerable Republicans like Maine’s Susan Collins held on. Despite having to defend far more seats this year, and being outspent by hundreds of millions, the GOP may not lose a single net seat.

Cuomo and de Blasio now face an even harder job of balancing their books.

Trump’s ‘racist’ appeal

  • “Racism is Trump’s brand,” declared New York Times columnist Paul Krugman.
  • “If Trump wins re-election, it’s on white people,” insisted Atlantic writer Jemele Hill.
  • “Trump’s racist messaging seems to have held its strong appeal,” FiveThirtyEight’s Clare Malone offered as analysis on election night.

In reality, exit polls from 2020 compared to 2016 show that the president gained ground across nearly every demographic: up four points with black men and black women, up three points among Latino men and Latino women. The only group where he lost ground was white men.

In all, it appears that Trump garnered the highest share of non-white support of any Republican presidential candidate in 60 years — perhaps because of the unprecedented minority job gains in his pre-pandemic economy.

And that exit poll may understate his gains with Hispanics, given Trump’s showing in Florida, where heavy turnout from the group also helped the Republicans flip two House seats.

Published November 5, 2020 at NYPost .com. Reprinted here for educational purposes only. May not be reproduced on other websites without permission from the New York Post.


1. The purpose of an editorial/commentary is to explain, persuade, warn, criticize, entertain, praise or answer. What do you think is the purpose of this editorial? Explain your answer.

2. The editors note:

“Before Election Day, the ABC-Washington Post poll gave Biden a whopping 17-point lead in Wisconsin; on Wednesday, his lead was 0.6 percent. ‘That’s not a mistake. That’s not an error,’ noted pollster Frank Luntz. ‘That’s polling malpractice, and you have to go to tremendous lengths to be able to get something that wrong so close to the election.’”

What is your reaction to Mr. Luntz’s assertion?

3. Pollsters have been accused by Republicans of intentionally inflating the numbers for Hillary Clinton in 2016 and for Joe Biden in 2020. What do you think about this accusation?  — How might artificially inflated polling numbers hurt a candidate?

4. Do you think the pollsters intentionally inflated the numbers to help Joe Biden OR were just wrong/inaccurate once again? Explain your answer.

5. Ask a parent: Considering the actual numbers, what do you think of the inaccurate polls that predicted a huge victory for Joe Biden and a “blue wave” to sweep the Senate and House races?