by Donna Martinez
Senior Writer and Editor, John Locke Foundation
Why is it that one pollster — the Trafalgar Group — is bucking the polling conventional wisdom and predicting a Trump win? Rich Lowrey of National Review sat down with founder Robert Cahaly to find out. First, the nuts and bolts of the poll.
“I don’t believe in long questionnaires,” Cahaly says. “I think when you’re calling up Mom or Dad on a school night, and they’re trying to get the kids dinner and get them to bed, and that phone rings at seven o’clock — and they’re supposed to stop what they’re doing and take a 25- to 30-question poll? No way.”
Why does that matter? “You end up disproportionately representing the people who will like to talk about politics, which is going to skew toward the very, very conservative and the very, very liberal and the very, very bored, “Cahaly explains. “And the kind of people that win elections are the people in the middle. So I think they miss people in the middle when they do things that way.”
Then there’s something Cahaly calls ‘social desirability bias.’
People with opinions that are unpopular “don’t want to be judged by somebody on the phone that they don’t know.” If this was always true, it’s particularly so now: “They’ve seen all this stuff of people being shamed for their opinion, people losing their jobs.”
So Trafalgar mixes up how it contacts people, and especially wants respondents to feel safe in responding.
What about this year?
This is Cahaly’s breakdown: He believes Trump will win North Carolina and Florida and discounts Biden’s chances in Georgia because the Republican-base vote is too big there (the same is true in Texas).
As for Arizona, “I think Trump has the lead,” Cahaly says. “I think [Republican senator Martha] McSally has some ground to make up. I see her about five points behind Trump, but I think Trump will probably win the state. And win it by a couple of points or more. And if he wins it big enough, McSally has a shot.”
Read the entire piece. Digest it. Then I suggest using it as your guide on Election Night. Fascinating stuff, and a good reminder that voting is just as much about emotion as it is about public policy.