The Pollster’s Blindspots

Good piece out today in WaPo from Stuart Rothenberg. Go Huskies!!

Rothenberg points out that in 2008, the Real Clear Politics average pretty much nailed Obama’s winning margin of 7.4 points (the RCP polling average indicated a 7.3 margin of victory.) But then in 2012, the RCP average on election day was only about 0.4% in Obama’s favor and he won by over 3 points.

My thought is perhaps polling is struggling to keep up with the changes in the electorate and who is ‘’likely’’ to vote on election day. If polling is struggling to keep up with changes in the electorate, then the polls are probably under-reporting minority and younger voters. It also seems likely (although to a lesser extent) that pollsters might be under-reporting white, working-class men that may vote infrequently. Here’s a really interesting piece out this afternoon from the NYT. They gave five different pollsters the same raw data and each one came back with a slightly different horse race spread, based on each pollster’s specific assumptions and approach. It’ll give you a new appreciation for the phrase ‘’margin for error.’’

It’s certainly safe to assume the polls are wrong, to some degree. For Hillary, as Rothenberg points out, she seems to have a higher ceiling than Trump. She can probably grow her reach in the suburbs and with college educated voters. He can’t grow his tent much. As we’ve been hearing for months, Team Hillary’s GOTV effort in the key states will be the difference on November 8th.