By Nicholas Fondacaro
NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt said it best Wednesday evening when leading to a report about how wrong the polls were in the run-up to the election. “Now, whatever the outcome, one of the important takeaways from this election, the polling was once again off, underestimating the strength of Donald Trump,” he told viewers.
Correspondent Gabe Gutierrez shared in Holt’s frustrations earlier in the hour-long, extended newscast. “Tonight, new questions about how pollsters were so off, AGAIN,” he exclaimed at the top of a report that was supposed to be about the Trump campaign demanding a recount in Wisconsin. “Before the election, polls had President Trump down significantly in Wisconsin. Some by double digits.”
Gutierrez spoke with two Wisconsinites who gave him their two cents on the matter:
ANNA PRIMUS: I think I’m a quiet majority. Maybe we keep our opinions more to ourselves.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I think there’s a hidden Trump voter. I think that some people are just scared to really come out and support the President.
He also looked to get input from former conservative Wisconsin radio host-turned-Never Trumper Charlies Sykes. “So, I think that the credibility of the polling industry is very much at risk right now. And I think it’s going to take a very, very long time for people to trust the polls ever again,” Sykes surmised.
As for the report Holt led into, White House correspondent Peter Alexander described the feeling of “Deja Vu all over again” with “renewed doubts about political polls.”
With Alexander recalling “it’s not the first time they missed the mark” and citing the 2016 election, he leaned on NBC contributor Dave Wasserman to tear into the incompetent industry. “We’re headed for a polling reckoning in the months and years ahead,” Wasserman declared.
He added: “As much as we thought pollsters learned their lessons of 2016 it’s clear that they haven’t fully figured out how to accurately sample the Midwest, Florida, and other parts of the country as well (…) There is some evidence that people who distrust institutions both support Trump more and respond to surveys less.”
As for the performance of pollsters in 2020, Alexander pointed out how their predictions were so drastically wrong in former Vice President Joe Biden’s favor:
Once again, the stunner, some of the state polls. Take Wisconsin heading into election day Biden enjoying a nearly 7-point advantage, on average, over the President with one recent poll showing him cruising by 17 points. But it appears Biden will eke it out in the state by less than one percent. So close, the Trump campaign is requesting a recount.
“Democrats thought Florida might turn blue, with Biden and former President Barack Obama recently heading south, where the final polls showed Biden clinging to a tight lead,” he recalled. “But President Trump would carry that state by more than three points.”
And in wrapping up his report, Alexander noted that pollsters did accurately predict Trump “would over-perform among black men and Latinos…”
Some have suggested the publishing of such inaccurate polling results was a sleazy form of voter suppression. Essentially, discouraging Republicans from going out to vote by making it seem as though their candidates were facing insurmountable odds.
Editor’s note. This appeared at Newsbusters and is reposted with permission.