The Corner

Elections

Fighting the Last War on Trump and Polls

Michael Brendan Dougherty asks, “Is there a reluctance to acknowledge that Donald Trump is a serious underdog for reelection?” It depends whom you ask, of course: Most liberal or progressive Trump critics are pretty stridently certain by now that Joe Biden will win in November. But there is unquestionably, even in some liberal quarters, a lingering kind of post-traumatic reaction to the fact that Trump won in 2016 after most everyone expected him to lose. The good news is that we should all have learned some humility along the way about how precisely polls could predict the state-by-state outcomes. Not so regarding national polls: In the national popular vote, Hillary Clinton’s approximately two-point margin over Trump was in line with the polls. We should also have some humility about how certain we could be in declaring a likely winner when the race was close. In fact, even retrospective analysis of 2016 remains much-contested, given the likelihood that exit polls may still have understated the proportion of non-college-educated voters in the 2016 electorate. Moreover, the wild events of 2020 should caution us that it may yet be early to try to accurately model what the fall electorate will look like, and how it will react to these two candidates.

What concerns me, however, is when humility turns into surrender. It’s one thing to say “the polls got some things wrong in 2016,” and another to treat Trump as possessing some sort of special immunity from polls, such that no evidence could possibly convince people that he is losing. At some point, throwing up your hands and declaring all poll data useless smacks of denial.

Most Popular

Media

Jeffrey Toobin and Our Public-Hate Ritual

Oh, Jeffrey Toobin — let him among us with a free hand cast the first stone. Toobin, a writer for The New Yorker and fixture on CNN, was participating in a role-playing exercise on a Zoom call with his magazine colleagues, wargaming election-night scenarios. Toobin was standing in for the courts when he ... Read More
Media

Jeffrey Toobin and Our Public-Hate Ritual

Oh, Jeffrey Toobin — let him among us with a free hand cast the first stone. Toobin, a writer for The New Yorker and fixture on CNN, was participating in a role-playing exercise on a Zoom call with his magazine colleagues, wargaming election-night scenarios. Toobin was standing in for the courts when he ... Read More

Trump: No

Editor’s Note: The following is one of three essays, each from a different perspective, in the latest edition of National Review on the question of whether to vote for President Trump. The views below reflect those of the individual author, not of the NR editorial board as a whole. The other two essays can be ... Read More

Trump: No

Editor’s Note: The following is one of three essays, each from a different perspective, in the latest edition of National Review on the question of whether to vote for President Trump. The views below reflect those of the individual author, not of the NR editorial board as a whole. The other two essays can be ... Read More

Trump: Yes

Editor’s Note: The following is one of three essays, each from a different perspective, in the latest edition of National Review on the question of whether to vote for President Trump. The views below reflect those of the individual author, not of the NR editorial board as a whole. The other two essays can be ... Read More

Trump: Yes

Editor’s Note: The following is one of three essays, each from a different perspective, in the latest edition of National Review on the question of whether to vote for President Trump. The views below reflect those of the individual author, not of the NR editorial board as a whole. The other two essays can be ... Read More
Elections

How Trump Might Be Winning

I’m far too dumb to be able to shed any light on polls, but I do know something about celebrity and I think I can guarantee this: If President Trump wins re-election, Robert Cahaly is going to become very famous very quickly. Who is Robert Cahaly? The chief pollster for the Trafalgar Group, the only major ... Read More
Elections

How Trump Might Be Winning

I’m far too dumb to be able to shed any light on polls, but I do know something about celebrity and I think I can guarantee this: If President Trump wins re-election, Robert Cahaly is going to become very famous very quickly. Who is Robert Cahaly? The chief pollster for the Trafalgar Group, the only major ... Read More
Elections

Biden Is Still Underperforming Hillary

On October 20, 2016: Hillary Clinton was up 6.8 in the RealClearPolitics average in Pennsylvania. Today, Biden is up 3.8. (that race only tightened to 2.1 in the last week of 2016.) Clinton was up twelve points in Michigan on that day. Biden is up 7.5 right now. Clinton was up 6.5 in Wisconsin. Biden is ... Read More
Elections

Biden Is Still Underperforming Hillary

On October 20, 2016: Hillary Clinton was up 6.8 in the RealClearPolitics average in Pennsylvania. Today, Biden is up 3.8. (that race only tightened to 2.1 in the last week of 2016.) Clinton was up twelve points in Michigan on that day. Biden is up 7.5 right now. Clinton was up 6.5 in Wisconsin. Biden is ... Read More
World

Trump and Dictators

Donald Trump’s first presidential trip abroad was to Saudi Arabia. On landing, he said, “We are not here to lecture. We are not here to tell other people how to live, what to do, who to be, or how to worship.” That was undoubtedly music to dictators’ ears. It’s their job, as they see it, to tell ... Read More
World

Trump and Dictators

Donald Trump’s first presidential trip abroad was to Saudi Arabia. On landing, he said, “We are not here to lecture. We are not here to tell other people how to live, what to do, who to be, or how to worship.” That was undoubtedly music to dictators’ ears. It’s their job, as they see it, to tell ... Read More