UPDATE 8/28: How Can You Tell When a Campaign is Way Behind? There is still time to turn things around, but not as much time as you might think, and that’s because of widespread early voting.
Sometimes polls are wrong but history and reality tell us it’s a dicey game to bet too much on them being wrong. They were wrong about Brexit, so that shows it possible but not necessarily probable.
Many conservatives believed the presidential polls were wrong in 2012 because pollsters were not using the voter turnout factor from 2010 when Republicans made large gains. Instead pollsters were using the 2008 turnout factor because it was their belief that presidential election trunout is a different species than off-year election turnout. Conservatives therefore continued to believe Romney would when win the polls were calling it for Obama. Turns out the polls were right and conservatives were surprised and disappointed.
Many other conservatives, like about 3-4 million of them, refrained from voting in 2008 because they were turned of by Romney, especailly his “prevent defense” after he performed well in the first debate and then tried to ride that horse to the finish line. His poor performance in subsequent debates resulted in a total evaporation in voter minds of his stellar performance in the first debate. The prevent defense doesn’t work in football nor in any other contest. In fact, an early victory in a contest can be the most dangerous thing for a candidate, contestant or player if they give in to the temptation of thinking their win is already in the bag. It’s better to remember that a bird in the hand may just poop on you. It’s nearly impossible to know in the middle of the game whether you’re winning or losing and assuming one or the other is foolish.
I listen to Rush Limbaugh and I like Rush. I think he has great political insight. But he’s wrong to place so much reliance on the vast size of Trump’s rallies compared to the meager size of Hillary Clinton’s rallies. He also relies on the pollsters missing a lot of voters who having been missing in past elections but are energized by Trump. They will probably vote for Trump this November, Rush believes. He may be right, but Jay Cost writing in the Weekly Standard has a warning about relying too much on the size of political rallies, one that should be heeded by all:
It’s also important to keep in mind the perspective of scale. Barack Obama’s rallies filled whole stadiums in 2008, but he still won a smaller share of the vote than George H.W. Bush in 1988 and even Warren G. Harding in 1920. Approximately 130 million Americans will participate in the November election—a number that dwarfs even the largest political rally, a thousand of times over. Using crowd sizes to gauge general election support is like using a twelve-inch ruler to measure the height of the Empire State building; it’s a bad tool.
Jay Cost presents other information on the Trump/Hillary polls that are more positive for Trump, so do read the whole thing.