Why Do Presidential Polls Often Suck?

Truth Matters

When I was a congressional candidate I had access in presidential years to the Republican Party’s weekly presidential polls. The results were for internal use, and not released to the public. At the same time I saw the various public polls (usually commissioned by the news media). The differences between the private poll and the public ones was striking.

To begin with, the private results were fairly constant (never varying by more than one or two percent). The public results were much more volatile and generally showed the Republican far behind the Democrat. As election day approached, however, the public polls showed the Democrat with an ever shrinking lead. Meanwhile, the internal poll showed the same close race it had always indicated. Miraculously, the day before the election the public and private polls synced into agreement.



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