Of Politics, we have the latest scientific polls that sound too good to be true, but also match our natural expectations. Herschel Walker can’t beat Warnock. The masters can’t beat Kelly. And Oz can’t beat anyone. It’s obvious. But not so fast:
The current 2022 ballot is hugely pro-Democratic. FiveThirtyEight’s “lightweight” prediction model, which is based only on the latest polling data, indicates that Democrats have a 79% chance of retaining control of the Senate. This probability clashes with the expectations of both parties and most independent handicappers, who consider the battle for the chamber to be closer to a draw.
Deep in your progressive bones, it “seems” too true. The reason this is true is that it happened in the past, in 2016:
After 2016, pollsters said the problem was that their samples included too few voters without a college degree. Polls were better for the 2018 midterm elections, though they were still too Democratic overall. Then came 2020 – which was worse than 2016, and which pollsters have yet to decide on a definitive explanation of exactly what went wrong. Therefore, an easy fix proved elusive.
One could responsibly speculate that most Democratic votes come from big cities and suburbs, while rural America tends to be blood red. A pollster asks one person from each scenario, and the two insist that they will vote in the next election. Democrats can pledge to vote, as can their rural counterparts. On election day, the rural voter finds voting very easy, with small crowds and many voting booths. The Democrat is getting ready to vote and sees a four to five hour queue, and she has to be at work in four hours. She waits two hours hoping it will go faster, but it never happens. She leaves furious. If that hits 4% of Democratic voters, the poll was down four points, more than enough to swing the election.
We know this happens because Republicans go crazy every time there is a suggestion to make it easier to vote. Whether it’s “Souls to the Polls” or mail-in voting, the GOP has gotten rid of it as much as possible. The easier it is to vote, the better the Dems perform.
Of course, there’s still a significant percentage who are embarrassed to admit they support Trump, and that carries over to non-presidential elections:
Franklin, the Wisconsin pollster, said it made “moderate or marginal adjustments” to the Marquette Law School survey methodology, including increasing the percentage of respondents contacted by cell phone. He’s also paying close attention to the response rate of his polls in Wisconsin counties that have been more favorable to Trump in the last election — but so far voters aren’t turning out in fewer numbers.
It’s probably wise to be skeptical that polls show a huge Democratic lead in the Senate (some people think Democrats can easily win three to four seats, especially after Dobbs.) States like Florida, among others (but especially Florida), often seem neck and neck or with a 1% lead over the Democrats, only on Election Day the Democrat drops four to five points. Florida has a lot of urban voters and a lot of rural and elderly voters (think villages), that fits perfectly with the speculation outlined above.
But polls are a science, and the great Democratic hope is that the major pollsters have learned from the mistakes of the past. It’s possible. It can be frustrating.
@JasonMiciak thinks a day without learning is a day not lived. He is a political writer, columnist, author and lawyer. He is a Canadian-born dual citizen who spent his teenage and college years in the Pacific Northwest and has since lived in seven states. He is now enjoying life as a single father to a young girl, writing from the beaches of the Gulf Coast. He loves making his flowerpots, cooking, and is currently studying philosophy of science, religion, and the non-mathematical principles behind quantum mechanics and cosmology. Please feel free to contact for speaking engagements or concerns.