Monday, August 8, 2016

A Campaign That Ignores All Metrics

I asked Trump supporters how they would know if their man was not succeeding.
What criteria do they trust? If you show them a poll with bad numbers for Trump, they’ll insist it’s skewed. A poll could be “skewed,” or more accurately, the sample could look really different from the type of turnout we would expect in the actual electorate. It could have too many men or too many women, too many of a particular age group, ethnic group, partisan breakdown, etcetera. Because we don’t know precisely who’s going to show up in the polls in November, it’s impossible to say that the poll’s projection of the electorate is wrong; we can only look at past election exit polls and get a sense of what’s “normal.”
This is why poll aggregation is generally seen as a little more reliable. Even if one pollster’s sample is too heavy with one demographic, it’s less likely that every pollster will make the same mistake or bad assumption. Trends are more important than the precise numbers; if multiple polls have the same candidate gaining support in the same time period, it’s probably a genuine phenomenon.
Still, sometimes the polls in aggregate can still end up being off consistently. In 2014, Republicans performed better than their polls indicated in state after state. Nate Silver concluded, “The average Senate poll conducted in the final three weeks of this year’s campaign overestimated the Democrat’s performance by 4 percentage points. The average gubernatorial poll was nearly as bad, overestimating the Democrat’s performance by 3.4 points.”
Billary looks happy. She's leading in most of the polls
But those polls are either skewed or meaningless. (/S)
But for all their flaws, the polls are the only regularly-updated measuring stick we have for determining if a campaign’s efforts are working.
If Trump supporters don’t insist a poll is skewed, they’ll dismiss it as meaningless “at this point.” What the confident Trump fans largely ignore is that we don’t have Election Day anymore; we have Election Month — in some cases, more than a month.
Read the rest of Jim Geraghty's op-ed HERE.

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