What’s “the the Trump”? We can only assume that it’s like ZZ Top without the beards—though it likely has even more interest in legs.
Trump has taught us that polls are bad—except, of course, for online polls in which you can vote as often as you want. Those are peachy. But what’s behind Trump’s fresh poll-related tweet? The alt-right has discovered a secret that means Trump is going to win for sure!
ZeroHedge is normally an economics-focused blog, but in recent months it has joined the sprawling galaxy of Trump-friendly outlets. In this particular article, the site's anonymous author, Tyler Durden (a pen name used by several writers), dips into an email sent by Democratic activist Tom Matzzie in 2008.
From this ZeroHedge has deduced that the polls are all intentionally adding too many Democrats, effectively—say it with me now—skewing the polls.
“Durden” declares that this is “how you manufacture a 12-point lead for your chosen candidate and effectively chill the vote of your opposition.”
Except that this Tyler Durden must have taken one too many punches in Fight Club, because this is an absolutely ridiculous reading of what’s going on.
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It’s not unusual for Trump to wave away the polls.
Trump kicked off a rally in Naples, Fla., by bashing polls as “inaccurate,” especially the myriad results that show him struggling with women.
“I’ll tell you what, we’re doing well in the polls, but you know, I really think those polls are very inaccurate,” Trump said, flanked by women waving pink “Women for Trump” signs. “When it comes to women, I think we’re doing better with women than with men.”
Of course he does. But why does Ed Norton’s evil alter ego think Democrats are warping poll results? The theory from ZeroHedge is that Democrats are “oversampling” minorities. That is, adding a proportion of minorities that far exceeds the population, causing the results of the polls to slant heavily to Clinton.
The email reads:
“I also want to get your Atlas folks to recommend oversamples for our polling before we start in February. By market, regions, etc. I want to get this all compiled into one set of recommendations so we can maximize what we get out of our media polling.”
Why isn’t this really an issue?
- These are internal private polls, not the public polls everyone sees in the news each day. Many of the public polls publish cross-tabs on their results, showing those segments of the population they spoke with, which would make any oversampling immediately obvious.
- The purpose of oversampling is simply to get a better look at smaller groups of the electorate so that their concerns could be better understood, not to swing the top-line numbers.
- The email is from 2008. We’ve had two elections since then, in which polls—particularly Democratic-leaning polls—did not show a tendency to understate Republican voters, no matter how many times the right spewed about “skewed.” If anything, in both 2008 and 2012, the polls underestimated the Democratic vote.
In short, Tyler Durden makes about as good a pollster as he does a roommate, and Donald Trump … he’ll believe anything, so long as it’s saying he wins.