Can we finally stop listening to election pollsters?

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Can we finally stop listening to election pollsters?

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A New York Times poll revealed that the Democratic candidate was leading the Republican candidate, 44 to 38. Another New York Times poll, taken days before the election, showed the candidates were running about even nationally. The results were horribly wrong. For New York voters, the Republican candidate won 47 to 44. Nationally, the candidates were far from even. The Republican defeated the Democrat 51 to 41.

This wrong prediction was from 1980 and the presidential election between President Jimmy Carter and then-Republican nominee Ronald Reagan, and it’s indicative of the unreliability of polling. It mirrored the wrong predictions of the 2016 presidential election and last week’s midterm elections. It’s a failure that has repeated itself many times over the years. Yet, still, every election season we indulge in our political addiction and listen to the polls.

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Ann Coulter discussed the shortcomings of polls in an Oct. 19 article published on her Substack. She analyzed polls as far back as 1976 and showed how many of them were wrong. In reality, she could have gone back even further. Consider the Brown Daily Herald article from 1916, “Hughes Elected to Presidency; Republicans Carry Both Houses.” All of this was utterly wrong as President Woodrow Wilson won reelection and the Democrats won both chambers of Congress.

There are many other examples, including the infamous 1948 Chicago Daily Tribune blunder, “Dewey Defeats Truman?” And, of course, there was the 2016 presidential election in which the “experts” claimed that Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton had greater than an 85% chance of winning. We all know how that turned out.

Every election season, people turn to pollsters to provide them with a statistical analysis regarding the elections. They’ve achieved celebrity status and are talked about as if they’re some divine soothsayers, all the while failing to do their jobs. The reality is often very different from their projections. This year’s election, with the “experts” predicting a “Red Wave,” was the latest example of this failure.

Frank Luntz, a GOP political consultant and pollster, is one such example. He’s repeatedly on that talk circuit as someone who knows what he’s doing. But this is the same Luntz that predicted Trump’s 2016 campaign was an “absolute joke.” He also said that the polling industry was done in 2020, after the industry’s “election misses.”

Yet here Luntz was, along with the rest of the polling industry, making predictions in 2022. He tweeted his predictions for last Tuesday’s election. “When the dust settles from the 2022 midterms, the GOP will have between 233-240 House seats — outdoing their total from 1994,” Luntz tweeted. “Republicans also will take control of the Senate, but that won’t be clear until Friday.”

Luntz was not alone in his incorrect prediction and, to his credit, has not shied away from any criticism. However, why are such people constantly proclaimed experts by pundits even after disastrous predictions? Heck, Luntz was already on Fox News again, even after his latest lousy performance, trying to explain where he went wrong — again.

At what point will pollsters be held accountable for failing to do the one job they have to do? They are as reliable as iceberg watchers on the Titanic. It’s a vicious cycle. The polls fail and we all state, “we can’t trust the polls.” Yet, every election we return and rely on the people who failed at their jobs.

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Political polling has essentially turned into vanity projects, ego trips, and gossip shows akin to Fox’s NFL Sunday. It’s become more of an entertainment shtick than a legitimate source of news. The only difference between political pollsters and the cast of football pregame shows is that the football shows are more accurate.

We’ve reached a point in society where we should finally stop listening to polls. Between their inaccuracies, the legacy media reporting such inaccuracies, and their impact on people’s desire to vote (especially if one’s preferred candidate is losing in the polls), they’ve shown they are a hazard. The “Dewey defeats Truman” mishaps have become the rule instead of the exception. Let’s be rid of polls once and for all.

© 2022 Washington Examiner

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