Why Polling for the 2016 Presidential Election May be Wrong

By Joe Ragonese


Dana Perino, a Fox News pundit on ‘The Five’, recently looked into the camera and with a pained expression across her face stated that the polls were solidly favoring Hillary Clinton, and that they were right.  She went on to explain that during the 2012 election, everyone, including her, thought the polls were wrong and too heavily skewed toward the Democrats.

This belief, based on historic polling, was well founded.  When Ronald Reagan ran against Jimmy Carter, the polls, right up to the day of the election, suggested a landslide for Carter.  The opposite was true, and the landslide was for Ronald Reagan.  Ever since that election political types have been skeptical of polling results.  In that event the pollsters were in fact lying.  They knew well in advance that Carter was losing badly; but hid that fact to bolster his chances of winning reelection.  The polls that did show the truth were not mentioned by the main stream media.  The lying did not matter as Reagan won an overwhelming victory.

After that event all pollsters have become much more accurate in their polling in order to be believed.  They have to be factual in order to be hired and stay in business.  The result was that the polls, prior to the Obama – Romney election were right on the mark.  Republicans simply did not want to believe them.  That is why Perino stoically pronounced that the polls indicate that Donald Trump will lose, based on the present polling.

As someone who knows nothing about the political process compared to Perino, who has been at the highest levels of government, believes that the dynamic of the polling in this election cycle is wrong.   This is based on the entirety of the election to date.

Donald Trump is not your run of the mill candidate.  He does not fit into the normal political box that is the standard used to do today’s polling.  While this election is strictly along party lines, on the Democrat side; it is not on the Republican.  Trump is not a conservative candidate.  He is not a religious candidate, nor a social warrior.  He is not a typical Republican, which is why you cannot place the electorate in normal categories.

Pollsters do not poll those who usually do not vote.  They do this because they don’t think that they will vote in this election and questioning them is a waste of time.  If you look closer at the primary races, this was not the case.  Donald Trump garnered more votes than any Republican in many, many years; maybe even ever.  Those who chose to vote for him were largely that exact crowd that the pollsters do not interview; the maybe voters.  People who usually do not vote in primaries came out in huge numbers to support Trump.

Donald Trump’s (and to a lesser degree, Bernie Sanders’) rise to the top of the political heap, demonstrates that this election cycle is unlike any other in history.  Trump faced off against 16 others, most of whom were seasoned Republican politicians.  They were a known commodity.  The voters knew their voting records and how they would behave once in office; and soundly rejected it.  This was due to Republican politicians, who were voted into office on the promise of closing the border with Mexico and stopping President Obama’s power grabs, and who did nothing.  The elevation of Donald Trump is a complete rejection of the difference between what Republican politicians say they will do and what they actually do once in office.  Looking at the Republican primaries we see that those who were not career politicians did the best.

Ted Cruz was the only exception to the pack of Republicans running the government; however, Republican voters have been let down so many times by career politicians that in the end, even he was rejected in large numbers.  The composition of the electorate changed dramatically when it came time to go to the polls to vote for the favorite candidate.  The end result was a businessman, who was neither a social conservative nor a typical politician.  Donald Trump is a fiscal conservative, but with a wide range of behavior that sets him apart from the rest of the conservative pack.  None of his faults bothered Republicans, because he is perceived as honest.  Ask any Trump supporter and they will say they believe him when he says he will make America great again.

His rise demonstrates that this is a completely different election than what pollsters are accustomed to.  This election is not one between left and right, it is one between radical leftist, big government statists (most of the Republican Party not endorsing Trump), and the rest of us.  The rest of us are the majority of Americans who only want to do our own thing and be left alone.  Big government intrudes on our ability to do that.  Ronald Reagan famously said, “Government isn’t the answer, it is the problem.”  Most of us understand that axiom.

A prime example of an intrusive government is one of the trucking regulations introduced into law by the Obama administration.  It dictates that truck drivers must sleep between 4am and 6am one day out of four.  This is on top of other laws controlling the hours they can drive.  These prohibitions make it almost impossible for the independent truck driver, at one time the backbone of the trucking industry, to operate his truck at a profit.  This type of regulation allows the large companies to continue making a profit as the small businessman goes out of business. Large corporate businesses, like these trucking companies, are the ones who contribute, in large numbers, to Obama and Clinton.  The effect of this type of legislation is the reason that when we go to the grocery store the price of everything is up.  Transportation costs have an effect on everything that we purchase, and just one of the reasons that the Obama economy is so weak.

The mainstream media does not report this and most people do not make the connection; however, they know that something is wrong and that the actions of our oversized government are responsible.  This is the rest of us.  We know what is happening is not good for us, but may not know why.  Enter Donald Trump with the promise that he will ‘Make America Great Again.’  In our hearts we know something is wrong, and that promise resonates with us.  Yes, we say to ourselves, we need that.  No matter how many times Hillary says that we don’t need to make America great again, that it already is, we know something isn’t working.

Donald Trump brings us the promise to make it right again for us, the average American, not the political classes and the really rich or really poor, but us, in between.  So this election, we, the average American, will go to the polls in huge numbers and vote for the candidate who ‘Will Make America Great Again,’ in defiance of the pollsters.  This is why I believe that the pollsters have it wrong.  If large numbers of average Americans turn out at the polls on November 8, 2016, as they did at the primaries, Donald Trump wins, no matter what the pollsters tell us.

Joe Ragonese served in the U.S. Air Force from 1963 to 1967, working in command & control.  For the next 36 years he was a police officer, 35 of those years on the Cook County Sheriff’s Police Department (Chicago, Illinois).  During that time he went to college on the G.I. Bill.  Joe was a freelance writer until retiring in 2005 as a police detective.   Since then he has written a novel, “The Sword of Mohammad,” available at Amazon.com, about nuclear terrorism in Chicago, and publishes Generations the Magazine, a senior newspaper,(www.GenerationsTM.com).  His passion is military history.

, , ,