Three polling yellow flags to watch for in 2024

When Donald Trump lost the 2020 presidential election, there was another loser: the polling industry.

The race was much closer than advertised.Polls overestimate support for Joe Biden A huge increase of 3.9 percentage points at the national finals. Voting in the 2022 Midterm Elections tended to be much more accurateBut the problem is, Trump isn’t on those ballots. Pollsters have already been criticized for being biased, and Trump’s return will likely be particularly difficult.

They will try to correct the underestimation of President Trump in 2020. The question is how. Trump remains a wild card. deviated from established Republican positions However, it still maintains significant support and is expanding its traditional Democratic support. a few and working class voters. This makes it especially difficult to know exactly where many voters are.

It is also possible that pollsters have over-corrected and underestimated Biden’s support this time. Even if that’s not the case, things seem tough for the president these New Wall Street Journal poll, Trump leads Biden in six of the seven battleground states. If these findings hold up in November, Biden will be toast.His campaign communications director says this about the current polls: underestimate the president’s supportbut it’s hard to know if this is more than wishful thinking.

Obviously, there’s a lot we don’t know. However, there are three things to note about the poll.

First, anger over the “stolen” 2020 election persists, and Trump Republicans are increasingly choosing not to show up to the polls. Trump continues to stir up concerns about election fairness. discourage people from voting early to Raising questions about voting machine accuracy. All of this has contributed to growing distrust among many Republicans in the electoral process, including polling.

So while a voter’s party affiliation tends to be one of the strongest indicators of who they will vote for, when it comes to opinion polls, party affiliation is no longer as strong a predictor as it once was.Republicans who chose to participate in the poll Support for Trump tends to be low That’s more than all Republican voters. Therefore, actual Republican support for the former president is likely greater than poll results suggest. These days, researchers tend to get a better idea of ​​what voters are thinking by asking participants who they voted for in the last presidential election.

Second, during the primary season, some kind of speculation Polls overestimate support for Trump among Republican voters, who may be more tolerant of Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) and Gov. Nikki Haley than polls suggest. That’s what it means. This speculation turned out to be untrue.

Whit Ayers, a longtime Republican pollster. Said Before the primaries, a majority of Republicans believed it could be Trump. These candidates “voted for Trump twice and intended to vote for Trump again when he ran against Joe Biden,” but “they either felt Trump had too much baggage or were worried about winning.” “We felt that this might be difficult, so we were willing to consider other candidates.” If true, Mate Trumpers would break out for the former president in the primaries.

Ayers’ reasoning is that these voters will again support Trump in the general election. But if they’re not an avid MAGA believer, perhaps they might be upset. That’s because President Trump is currently doing nothing to encourage non-MAGA types or lukewarm MAGA types to support him.

Joe Biden recently extended a small olive branch to Maybe Trumpers when his campaign released a new 30-second video targeting Haley voters, suggesting they could find a home in his campaign. did. While this appeal may not move many Republicans, it may encourage enough Republicans to stay home on voting day. This year, small changes can make a difference.

Third, despite the poll failures, some of the blame for unexpected election results lies with voters themselves.What to tell voters and what to do at the polling place Often there is no line up. This may be especially true for nontraditional candidates like Trump.

Lauren Camera of US News & World Report observed Last year, President Trump’s victory in 2016 demonstrated a “strange Bradley effect.” In 1982, Tom Bradley, the black mayor of Los Angeles, famously lost the California gubernatorial race, even though he was leading in the polls. It is believed that Mr Bradley’s support has inflated in the polls because voters do not want pollsters to think they are racist.

The situation was the opposite for Trump in 2016 and 2020. Those who ultimately voted for Trump were reluctant to admit their support to pollsters. Given President Trump’s legal troubles, this reversed Bradley effect may emerge again.

One thing we know about the 2024 polls is that, to paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, there will be a lot of voting. known unknowns. Pollsters operate on shifting sands, and no matter how hard they try, they may not be able to fully and accurately predict the actual behavior of voters.

Jennifer Tiedemann I am the editor-in-chief of discourse A magazine housed at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

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