13 Tips For Reading General Election Polls Like A ProReaders of my book, "Trump the Press," are quite aware of Harry Enten.
He is the fellow who wrote on the day Trump entered the race:
Trump has a better chance of cameoing in another Home Alone movie with Macaulay Culkin—or playing in the NBA Finals—than winning the Republican nomination.Still, his advice is worth considering.
Beware of polls tagged “bombshells” or “stunners.”Et cetera. For every point he makes, I can make a counter argument. Outlier polls can be right. The average of wrong polls is still wrong. Zogby rode Robo-calls to nail the 2000 election. Newcomers can outshine the established ones. Et cetera.
Instead, take an average.
Look for polls that use live interviewers; they have a better track record.
Know the polling firm – some are waaay better than others.
Polls are pseudo-science. They usually are accurate, but they not always. To be science, they would have to be accurate all the time. But polls do have a tendency to predict outcomes and so we use them. Billions are bet on them each year by marketeers who sell every product on Earth.
Election polls come in three sizes: Adults, registered voters, and likely voters. The first two categories are selected objectively, while the latter is subjective. However, subjective is not always bad for this is not science after all. It is an art. If the criteria for likely voter is the question "did you vote in the 2012 presidential election?" then you may be on to something, provided people remember correctly or are honest about it. And that also requires a every 2012 voter votes in 2016. But that is why the category is called "Likely Voter" and not simply "Voter."
So what are the polls showing now? After a summer that began with the two in a virtual tie, we end up with Clinton holding a four-point lead in the Real Clear Politics Poll Average on Labor Day weekend. This is down from a 6.8-point lead on June 27.
But a look at the most recent Likely Voter polls shows:
Investor's Business Daily has her up by one.The three most recent of the most recent polls have a virtual tie while the three taken a week ago show her well ahead. The four-way Rasmussen poll taken Monday and Tuesday has Trump up by one. And the four-way Gravis poll of a week earlier had her up by one.
The Los Angeles Times has him up by one.
Reuters has her up by one.
Public Policy Polling has her up by five.
USA Today has her up by seven.
Monmouth has her up by seven.
So basically, they started in a tie and ended in a tie. Hillary burned through, oh, $100 million in television ads just to learn what Jeb learned last year: TV ads don't work. They bounce of him like bullets on Superman's chest.
Ah, but when you throw the gun at him, he ducks -- just like the guy who played Superman in TV.
She has an opening, and he has a weakness. If she can get him to rant and rave, she can undo his magic. Expect more Khizr Khans.
The polls could show that Trump has momentum. Or maybe it was self-correction on their part.
But as unreliable as the polls may be, they are the best we have. I doubt there is a conspiracy to skew results to deflate Trump supporters. What we need to do is take them into account, along with the what we see with our own eyes.
Thus far, Trump moves the polls. She doesn't. This election is shaping up as I forecast; it is a referendum on Donald Trump. All he has to do is show he is presidential.
Either he does, or he doesn't.
I would rather be him than her. He has the ball with two minutes left in the game. The polls show where the yardline is. Looks to be about his own 40.
"Trump the Press: Don Surber's take on how the pundits blew the 2016 Republican race" is available as a paperback. Please order here.
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