All Polls Are Wrong



The phrase "all polls are wrong" was a cool hinge-point of argument last year, as the Trump train rolled on ...

Yesterday a Democrat penned an interesting article at The Hill. It didn't say that "all polls are wrong," but that surveys of President Trump's popularity in the USA are flawed and in no way indicative. In other words ... Why the polls are still wrongHere's a few excerpts from the article:


The polls that failed to detect the full strength of President Trump on Election Day continue to underestimate the president’s support for the job he is doing, paying way too much attention to the Twitter wars and ignoring the public support for many of the actions is undertaking.

This can create some serious misjudgments by organizations like the NFL and some Republican senators, who find out later that they buck the president only to their own detriment. And nothing was more devastating to Democrats than believing the election was over when it wasn’t.

Polls show the president’s approval rating all over the lot. An Associated Press poll put it at 32 percent and suggests that only 24 percent see the country as going in the right direction. This strains credulity given what happened in the special elections against the Democrats.


The methodology of some of these polls is to poll “all adults” without any qualification as to citizenship or voting intent. A lot of the nonvoters dislike politics and all politicians, and these polls also include them along with undocumented immigrants who are not screened out. Another group of polls has Trump’s approval in the low 40s, and Harvard-Harris Poll, which eliminates all undecideds, has it at 45 percent, similar to Rasmussen.

Remember, Americans liked President Obama for his way with words and his calm leadership style. They just opposed many of his policies, so Obama’s numbers gave a false sense of approval. Trump is the mirror opposite. People are put on edge by his words while favoring a lot of the positions he is taking on issues.

When it comes to rank-and-file Republican voters, Trump is the undisputed leader of the Republican Party. No poll I’ve seen puts his support from Republicans at below 80 percent and we at Harvard-Harris have it at 84 percent, which is remarkable, given his knock-down-drag-out fight with some mainstream Republicans.


The failure to understand the 2016 election was in large measure not a failure of the final polls, many of which showed a close race, but a failure to understand the powerful storyline of Trump’s appeal with his respect for cops and the military, taking a more aggressive position against our enemies, and pushing for tax and health-care reform. His style is not what won him the presidency. It was, remarkably, his substance.

I, frankly, didn’t at the time see his rise in the Republican primary as realistic. I don’t believe he has advanced his coalition from Election Day, and rank-and-file Democratic opposition has hardened. But he hasn’t lost his support either, and taking on “The Swamp” only empowers him further.

It is by watching the underlying public sentiment of what he is doing, and not his methods, that you see how polling better watch out here, as reality versus research will again be tested, and reality always wins.

Mark Penn is co-director of the Harvard-Harris Poll and was a pollster for Bill Clinton during six years of his presidency.

The Penn article also received some pushback, in this instance from Philip Bump of the fey canoes Washington Post: Why is a former Clinton pollster writing iffy poll analysis that panders to Trump supporters?


It’s true both that Trump is broadly unpopular (as measured by multiple opinion polls) and that there are positions he espouses that are popular. We will cede that since, well, it’s sort of obvious. We will also cede the point that Republicans broadly think Trump is doing a good job, something that has been noted any number of times by The Washington Post and others.

As Penn makes that point, though, he goes out of his way to include weird cultural touchstones that seem clearly intended to appeal to that Trump base.

For example, this is how Penn dismisses polling that shows Trump as unpopular:

The methodology of some of these polls is to poll “all adults” without any qualification as to citizenship or voting intent. A lot of the nonvoters dislike politics and all politicians, and these polls also include them along with undocumented immigrants who are not screened out.

There are two implications here. The first is that somehow people who don’t vote don’t get to have an opinion on the president. The second is that the number of people who reject the president is swollen by undocumented immigrants. At most, undocumented immigrants represent 3 percent of the population, a group that’s less likely to speak English and almost certainly not registered to vote. To suggest that they make up a significant portion of the responses to a poll is disingenuous.

“The president gets 65 percent approval for hurricane response and 53 percent approval for the economy and fighting terrorism,” Penn writes as he fleshes out “a more complex picture” of opinions on Trump. “He gets his lowest marks for the way he is administering the government. And he is a divider when people want a uniter.”

This is deliberately playing down how low Trump’s numbers are

Here's a snapshot from the folks at 538 [updated July 3 2020]:



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All polls are wrong, but some polls are interesting. Did you know that forty percent of voters are "silent Trump Supporters"? -- or that the President has just achieved a milestone in popular approval?  Maybe  you didn't know that 'polls show' that "Trump and the GOP are not going to get away with this.

pollsImageMap.png                [...]

Fun with Polls!

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Successful Trump predictions. Sad faces at Fox.

One of Canada's former party leaders, John Turner, had a saying that he repeated over and over again during his federal career (he was Prime Minister for 80 days): "I never comment on polls -- good, bad or indifferent. The only poll that matters is on election day." He lost the election that would have ratified his leadership.

Last night various small parts of the Republic went to the polls, real polls, and the result was as expected (if you followed the Quinnipiac public opinion samplings).


The President had offered some guidance to voters in at least one race -- for Virginia Governor.  His support of the GOP candidate was backed by a forceful Breitbart campaign**. 


Kind of a mixed message about Gillespie. Considering ...






Edited by william.scherk
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The Republicans were skunked yesterday in New Jersey.  Given the Gov. Christie is a swine,  that is hardly surprising.


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Glad to see the Dems get a little boost of morale, poor things. They've been having a hard time of it.

Like they say in Brazil, when you can't hunt with dogs, you have to try to hunt with cats.


That might be a little too cryptic, so here's what it means. At certain times in life, you take what you can get, however little, and make the best of it. Blue victories against swamp creatures in blue states--that's one thing. Red Trump states, that's another...


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Some people think [Trump approval] numbers could be in the 50's."

On 11/9/2017 at 4:02 PM, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

At certain times in life, you take what you can get, however little, and make the best of it.


Edited by william.scherk
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FOXnews Birmingham: EXCLUSIVE: New poll shows Roy Moore and Doug Jones in statistical tie


Alabama Senate polls show a tight race since the allegations


---Roy Moore strategist: Fox News putting out 'fake polls' showing us losing



Roy Moore campaign strategist Dean Young is accusing Fox News of putting out fake polls that show the Alabama Republican losing his December Senate special election. 

"You get Fox News to put out their fake polls and everybody else can too, but he’s still winning and he’s never been losing because the people of Alabama don’t go for what you’re trying to sell," Young said at a Tuesday press event alongside two other Moore defenders, according to The Washington Post.

A Nov. 16 Fox News poll put Democratic candidate Doug Jones ahead by 8 points among likely Alabama voters going into the Dec. 12 special election, 50 percent 42 percent, following multiple accusations that Moore sexually harassed or assaulted teenage girls.

Young denied Fox's numbers and noted that Moore was "over 6 points ahead still" in another poll.

"We don’t believe these women. It’s just that simple. And y’all can keep trotting them out if you want to, but we’re not going to talk about that. We’re going to talk about helping Donald Trump make American great again," Young continued. 

President Trump all but endorsed Moore for the race on Tuesday, emphasizing to reporters that Moore has consistently denied the women's testimonies and that Republicans could not allow the Senate seat to go to a Democrat. 



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I can take a shot at it.

Think NFL and ESPN audience. Think Grammy audience, Emmy audience, Oscar audience. Think any audience that was high, then decided to preach liberal stuff and anti-Trump stuff along with their normal activities.

They tank with the general public (although they play well to their dwindling base).

From Rush Limbaugh today:

If Democrats Are on a Roll, Why Is Liberalism Breaking Records for Low Ratings?

From the transcript


Doesn't it seem like if there was a Democrat wave that there would be some evidence for it besides where it exists? And where does it exist? Where does it exist that the Democrats are gonna retake everything? In the polling data! It exists in polling data! Do we believe that? What is the intellectual reason to believe it? So polling data tells us the Democrats are on a roll. Many Republicans, because they live in Washington, happen to believe polling data, so they kind of fall in line on this.

But that’s the only place there is any evidence. And that’s not evidence. Polling data isn't evidence of a Democrat wave. But that’s all there is to suggest there’s gonna be one. Meanwhile, on the ground in Realville, the Democrats aren't doing anything to inspire anybody! They can’t even inspire their own side. And liberalism, one more time, front and center, prime time television, prime time sports, audiences are being driven away.

So liberals should enjoy their skewed polls. It's all the audience they have left to keep hope of better days going in their hearts.



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I heard a liberal pundit the other day offering up the spin that the NFL is taking a ratings hit not because of political activism, but because fans are becoming more and more shocked by the violence of the game! Uh huh, the game has gotten softer and softer over the years, and we're supposed to believe that fans are upset that it's still not soft enough. And of course that boycotts are having no effect. Heh.

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13 hours ago, william.scherk said:

Who can properly shred this poll, even without prior assumptions?

The in-tweet quoted tweet does not show in the above item. Here is the originating tweet, with link to the results:

"Millennials" is a shorthand term for a demographic cohort; one definition spells it out as the group of Americans born between 1982 and 2000, which amounts to some 80,000,000 potential voters. Here is the breakdown from the NBC/UChicago sounding:


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Of course all polls are wrong. Some are wronger than others. Faye and the Deep still keep at it. Here is Mr Gallup and Deep Faye:


Since about the end of April, multiple metrics suggest relative stability in Trump’s approval rating. Gallup’s had him at 42 points approval on average, with only two weeks more than a point away from that number. The RealClearPolitics polling average (which includes Gallup’s polls) has him averaging about 43.5 points over that period. He’s at 43.7 percent approval in RealClearPolitics’ most recent average.

Did the immigration fight hurt Trump? There’s certainly no evidence that it helped. But the big swing in Gallup seems more like a reversion to the norm than a sea change.


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All Polls Are Wrong, but some get commentator tongues a'wagging.  Here's Tarl aka Styxhexenhammer666 trying out a line of argument:

Styx is talking about this:

-- I managed to overlap paths with Ted Carroll on Twitter, who has a Platinum membership at Rasmussen, which allows him access to the cross-tabs, which he was kind enough to share in a screenshot:

-- and a visual:


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I am among an apparent minority who enjoy wonking along watchfully with various "feeds" of survey analysis, the arcana and the occasional mordant summary. 

Is there a race for the House? A race to be "stolen"?

Wonkorama. Tracking tool.

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Styxhexenhammer666 unveils some of his home truths about recent public-opinion polling: "Possible Weaponized Trump Approval Polling Ahead of the Midterms."

Styx gets off on the lead foot: "Supposedly Trump's approval is in free-fall" ... which is not in fact the case. "Free-fall" is a gross exaggeration -- a straw man if you will -- and Styx supplies no quoat of the 'supposed' MSM suggesting free-fall**.

For those who enjoy examining polling data, Real Clear Politics is cited by Styx: 




-- so, in the end, what is the importance of Presidential job-approval opinions ... going into the mid-terms? What possible effect would a disapproval of the President's performance have on voting November 6 at this point in time?

In any case, the reader-watcher can check Styx's impressions against the most recent polling that he considers likely to be "weaponized," either at RCP or 538. Eg, 


Basically, Styx does not 'believe' in the most recent polling on Trump approval.  And why should he? When you can solve all the world's political problems from a cabin in Vermont, then you believe what you believe. 

Of course, most of the information Styx would need to interpret a given poll and thus answer his question ('why would the relatively-stable 43.5 approval numbers drop') of the internal workings. For example, if he wondered about, say, why Marist shows 38 point approval -- then he could delve into the questions and the survey's margin of error.  

I agree with one of Styx's subsidiary points -- polls always are "in error," simply due to the difficulties of representation, of sampling a population.  In this case, some of the disputed (by him) findings can be seen as within their own error margins.  Which makes them less 'weaponized' and more 'fallible.' 

Quinnipiac, one of the plausibly-to-Styx 'weaponized' polls, shows the polling questions and answers that might go a way to explain a minor reduction in Trump support.  The header in their press release was "Voters Believe Anonymous Trump Charges 2-1, Quinnipiac University National Poll Finds."

This data point/conclusion suggests that perceptions of disarray and confusion in the White House do actually get through to voters -- in a way that puzzles Styx at this point.

In the end, it should be interesting indeed to read/watch Styx's November 7-8 post mortem comments.

**[Added: three 'weapons' of influence: ]



Edited by william.scherk
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What the hell is an 'internal poll' and why should anyone care? [Check the RCP Trump Approval/disapproval spread as of today]

On 9/13/2018 at 8:30 AM, william.scherk said:

I agree with one of Styx's subsidiary points -- polls always are "in error," simply due to the difficulties of representation, of sampling a population.  In this case, some of the disputed (by him) findings can be seen as within their own error margins.  Which makes them less 'weaponized' and more 'fallible.' 

From Bloomberg's  Joshua GreenInternal RNC Poll: Complacent Trump Voters May Cost GOP Control of Congress

Emphases added.


 A private survey shows many Republican voters “don’t believe there is anything at stake” in the midterm elections.
A private survey conducted for the Republican National Committee and obtained by Bloomberg Businessweek contains alarming news for Republicans hoping to hold on to control of Congress in November: Most Trump supporters don’t believe there’s a threat that Democrats will win back the House. President Trump’s boasts that a “red wave” could increase Republican majorities appear to have lulled GOP voters into complacency, raising the question of whether they’ll turn up at the polls.

While most election forecasters, as well as strategists in both parties, believe Democrats are likely to win the 23 seats necessary to take control of the House of Representatives, Republican voters aren’t convinced, the survey shows.

According to the RNC study, completed on Sept. 2 by the polling firm Public Opinion Strategies, most voters believe Democrats will win back the House—just not Republican voters. Fully half of self-identified Republicans don’t believe Democrats are likely to win back the House. And within that group, 57 percent of people who describe themselves as strong Trump supporters don’t believe Democrats have a chance (37 percent believe they do).

If overconfident Republican voters stay home, Democrats could win a landslide. The report urges GOP officials to yank their voters back to reality: “We need to make real the threat that Democrats have a good shot of winning control of Congress.”

The president instead has delivered the opposite message. At rallies and on Twitter, Trump has claimed that—contrary to conventional wisdom and polling—Republicans might actually increase their margin in November.

The internal RNC study finds that complacency among GOP voters is tied directly to their trust in the president—and their distrust of traditional polling. “While a significant part of that lack of intensity is undoubtedly due to these voters’ sentiments toward the President, it may also be partly because they don’t believe there is anything at stake in this election,” the authors write. “Put simply, they don’t believe that Democrats will win the House. (Why should they believe the same prognosticators who told them that Hillary was going to be elected President?)”



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It's been a while since we have heard from Tim Pool of Tim Cast.  It has also been a while since he put that toque on ...

-- from the description at the Youtube page:


Historic Republican Turnout? Are The Polls WRONG Again?! In 2016 we all saw the failure of mainstream media as they all predicted Hillary would win... and she didnt. Today we see polls showing the democrats reclaiming a house majority but perhaps we are seeing the same thing.

When I look at enthusiasm among republicans I can't help but feel like this is 2016 all over again. Republicans are running ads, pushing catchy one liners like "jobs not mobs," and engaging with content online substantially more than democrats.

I just don't see the same behavior among the left. To me this says that republicans will likely claim a super majority and possibly pave the way for Trump's 2020 reelection


Become a patron at


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Once a month, like clockwork, the wrong question.


[...] A Monmouth University poll out Wednesday found that though the president’s approval rating stands fairly steady at 43 percent, only 37 percent of registered voters want to see him reelected, compared to 58 percent of voters who want someone new in the Oval Office come January 2021.

Those who don’t want to see Trump reelected predictably varies by party, but 16 percent — not an insignificant number — of Republicans say Trump should be a one-term leader, according to the poll, while 92 percent of Democrats and 58 percent of independents said the same.



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