Television host Geraldo Rivera offered a sharp rebuke to the polling industry early Wednesday morning when he noted that “win or lose,” its failure to portray accurate predictions for the 2020 presidential election made it “obsolete.”
“It’s excruciatingly tight, but win or lose, [Donald Trump] has rendered the polling industry obsolete, they were as wrong as wrong can be. Slanted Polls became part of same media witchhunt trying to kill off POTUS with maliciously skewed polling, unfair & bias reporting,” he wrote on Twitter.
The tweet has received over 2,000 likes.
The critique comes after numerous polls wildly underestimated the president’s reelection chances. For example, Axios reporter Jonathan Swan noted in a tweet that the most recent ABC/WaPo poll had former Vice President Joe Biden up in Wisconsin by as much as 14 points. However, Biden was trailing in the state throughout most of the early counts and only developed a slim margin a few hours ago. The race remains incredibly tight and politicos have warned there is likely to be a recount no matter who wins.
Another polling failure was in Florida. Morning Consult proclaimed on November 2 that Trump was down by 6 points in the state; he ended up winning it by around 3, via Twitter.
Experts believe that the reason behind the polling errors is the “shy Trump voter.” These respondents are reportedly wary of disclosing their voting intentions due to the president’s unpopularity.
“People will lie to their accountant, they’ll lie to their doctor, they’ll lie to their priest,” explained pollster Robert Cahaly of the Trafalgar Group, per Politico. “We’re supposed to believe they shed all of that when they get on the telephone with a stranger?”
Cahaly added that this was particularly true for polling that relies on telephone conversations, which had once been considered the gold standard in predicting results. However, he noted that people “avoid awkward conversations” and that there was a strong “social desirability bias” toward Biden, making it likely that respondents would not be honest with their answers.
In addition, Cahaly said that people with busy schedules didn’t have time to answer the often long and detailed questionnaires to portray an accurate picture of their beliefs and intentions.
“Who has time to answer 22 questions on a Tuesday night when you’re trying to fix dinner or put your children to bed?” he asked.
Those who would participate in such an arduous process, the pollster continued, tended to be highly partisan and very engaged in the electoral process, rather than the undecided voter who doesn’t always participate.