Along with leftists in general, pollsters have no concept of how to deal with the candidacy of former President Donald Trump. The hopeful 2024 Republican nominee’s support is repeatedly proving difficult for even the most respected surveyors to gauge.
In both 2016 and 2020, organizations charged with taking the pulse of the U.S. public severely undercounted both support for Republicans in general as well as the conservative support for Trump. These problems did not manifest themselves in the off-year elections of 2018 and 2022.
For example, 2022 polling was found by FiveThirtyEight to be the most accurate since 1998.
It was a surprisingly successful year for pollsters. As CNN director of polling and election analytics Jennifer Agiesta noted, “we were within the margin of error on just about every [poll] we did.”
But that was an election year that did not feature the 45th president, a factor that must be taken into consideration when measuring support for candidates leading up to Nov. 2024.
Pollsters are worried that their efforts to shape public opinion through weighted/biased polls will fail once again as support for Trump grows exponentially across all demographics. The polling industry whiffed every year Trump has been on the ballot.https://t.co/llcPVFdKdB
— @amuse (@amuse) May 13, 2023
As Politico stated, the “Trump problem is back with a vengeance.”
Of course the pollsters got everything wrong in 2016, but by the numbers they were even further off in 2020. The outlet noted that Trump drew far more votes that the surveys leading up to the November election indicated he would.
The results from 2020 showed that many people who had never or rarely voted came out and supported Trump’s candidacy. These voters either were not included in the polls or simply did not participate.
Experts recall that then-President Trump blasted the polls that consistently showed him trailing challenger Joe Biden by a wide margin. This created a loop in which his ardent supporters were even less likely to give responses to pollsters.
Agista credited exactly that phenomenon, declaring that Trump’s comments deriding polls in general led to his supporters not responding to surveys.
Now the same pollsters watch as the former president widens his lead over his Republican challengers. And while nothing is certain at this stage, as Democratic pollster Andrew Baumann observed, “It’s looking a lot like Trump is going to be on the ballot” in 2024.
The results from 2020 for those in the business of measuring public opinion are not causes for optimism. Nationwide polls were more inaccurate than they’ve been in 40 years, and state polls were even more disastrous.
They missed the mark by the highest margins in recorded history.
What are the results? Many in the industry are currently overhauling the way they measure voter sentiment. Despite sweeping changes trying to accommodate those who distrust media outlets, 2024 promises to be a challenging year for those predicting who will be the next president.