See also: ANN COULTER: Why A Red Wave Is Suddenly Possible
For months, polls and political analysts were suggesting that Democrats will outperform in November’s midterm elections. Republicans, they say, were blowing it—failing to capitalize on the opportunities presented by a poor economy and a historically unpopular Democratic president.
Some blame this GOP underperformance on the Supreme Court’s abortion decision. Others blame it on Republican failures to campaign strongly enough against unpopular Democratic positions on crime, immigration, and Critical Race Theory.
Is this true? Maybe. But it also may be true that the Republicans are not blowing it after all. According to some observers, the real story may be that the pollsters are (once again) getting this year’s election results wrong.
More importantly, however: even if the polls are right, the longer-term polling trends are likely to be far more significant than the results of any single off-year election.
Polling experts have known for years that the industry suffers from systemic biases that favor left-leaning politicians and issue positions. In the 2020 elections, according to the American Association for Public Opinion Research, the polling in the final two weeks of the campaign was off by roughly four percent (in Biden’s direction) compared to the final results [2020 Pre-Election Polling: An Evaluation of the 2020 General Election Polls, American Association for Public Opinion Research, July 19, 2021].
That might happen again this year. ”That warning sign is flashing again,” wrote Mark Weaver [Tweet him], an election law attorney, in a recent Washington Post op-ed. ”Democratic Senate candidates are outrunning expectations in the same places where the polls overestimated Mr. Biden in 2020 and Mrs. Clinton in 2016” [Uh-oh, the Polls May Be Undercounting Trump-friendly Republicans Again, October 3, 2022].
Why is this happening? Apart from poor quality control, much of it is attributable to right-leaning Republicans being less willing to share their real views with pollsters. Thus, according to Weaver in WaPo:
Trump supporters might have the added worry of being attacked for frankly stating their views. Stories of those affiliated with Trump being arrested, subpoenaed, doxed or mocked—with Trump providing angry amplification—result in a lower social trust of strangers inquiring about political views.
Biden’s recent speech in Philadelphia attacking ”MAGA Republicans” as a threat to democracy has probably only made things worse.
”If the polls are wrong yet again, it will not be hard to explain,” wrote Nate Cohn at the New York Times. ”Most pollsters haven’t made significant methodological changes since the last election” [Yes, the Polling Warning Signs Are Flashing Again, September 12, 2022, my emphasis].
Notoriously, polling errors of just a few percentage points can produce dramatically different outcomes in elections—where winners can edge out a victory by a single percentage point.
But such errors are typically even worse in polling on sensitive political issues. On issues involving race (such as Affirmative Action, immigration, or Black Lives Matter), polling errors can range from 10 to 20 percent. (See my—pre–2020 election!—Yes, Virginia (Dare), ”Social Desirability Bias” IS Skewing Immigration Polls—And Trump’s).
Of course, regardless of which way the mid-term elections swing this year, this is just a single mid-term election. Elections frequently swing back and forth between the two parties and this year is probably no different.
The real question is more long-term: Is the American public waking up to the threat posed by its own Establishment Uniparty? Will there be meaningful change? Or will this be just another meaningless election outcome that will make little difference in our nation’s long-term trajectory?
There is reason to be hopeful. In a poll I conducted for American Renaissance last year (AmRen Poll: White Americans Waking Up on Race), I found significant changes in public opinion over the past decade:
The last bullet point—change over the last decade—is one of my poll’s most hopeful results. America’s core demographic, its European-derived white population—what VDARE.com calls the Historic American Nation—is indeed waking up to the brewing threat.
This trend, if it continues, will be far more important than this year’s election results, regardless of how they turn out.
Patrick McDermott [Email him] is a political analyst in Washington, D.C.