A group of top Democratic Party pollsters released a statement admitting “major errors” in their 2020 surveys and a lack of agreement on how to address them, Politico reports.
Five of the party’s biggest polling firms have been working together for months to determine what went wrong with last year’s polling data.
“Twenty-twenty was an ‘Oh, shit' moment for all of us,” one pollster told Politico. “And I think that we all kinda quickly came to the point that we need to set our egos aside. We need to get this right."
The statement acknowledges that the industry “saw major errors and failed to live up to our own expectations” but concedes that “no consensus on a solution has emerged.”
The statement “marks the beginning of a years-long process” to examine why most elections have tilted away from Democrats despite favorable polling data.
No similar GOP effort:
The American Association for Public Opinion is also examining the polling misses and is expected to release its own review.
But the Republican Party has not launched a similar effort despite some in the GOP being surprised that their own party exceeded polling expectations in the presidential, congressional, and state legislative races.
One possible issue cited by pollsters is Trump’s effect on hurting trust in polling among the public.
“Trump went after the polls,” one pollster told Politico. “He was really pretty overt to those that were listening about some of his distrust of polls or media.”
Turnout key factor:
Though the pollsters did not come to a consensus solution, they noted that their underestimation of pro-Trump turnout among “low-propensity voters” was “clearly one factor in polling being off across the board, but especially in deeply Republican areas.”
“It also meant, at least in some places, we again underestimated relative turnout among rural and white non-college voters, who are overrepresented among low propensity Republicans,” the statement said.
But even if the polls were adjusted for turnout, they would still be skewed toward Democrats. The pollsters say a combination of a late rise by Trump and Republicans may not have been caught by the polls. The Covid pandemic may also have resulted in more people who complied with restrictions answering pollsters compared to those who didn’t.
“While there is evidence some of these theories played a part, no consensus on a solution has emerged. What we have settled on is the idea there is something systematically different about the people we reached, and the people we did not,” the memo says. “This problem appears to have been amplified when Trump was on the ballot, and it is these particular voters who Trump activated that did not participate in polls.”