Election Day will not just be a referendum on President Trump.

Polls — and the media outlets that sponsor them — will also be on the ballot.

If the polls are proved significantly wrong and President Trump wins, it could be the death knell of polling as we know it.

A lot of pollsters out there will be white-knuckling it on Election Day. The polling errors in 2016 were bad enough but another mistake in 2020 will send pollsters and other experts wondering what went wrong — and what needs to be done to fix it.

If the polls are right on election night, it will be sweet vindication for the beleaguered pollsters and their media allies.

For the last two years Americans have been bombarded with an unprecedented assault of polls — most of them focused on a national matchup between Trump and Democrats.

Nearly every poll has shown Joe Biden and Democrats with a significant lead. A Franklin Pierce University-Boston Herald poll last week showed Biden ahead by a 53-39% margin.

Polling in battleground states — which is a more accurate barometer of the Electoral College matchup — shows the race tighter but Biden still has an edge there.

Could pollsters really blow it again?

Trump in the last few weeks had what appeared to be the energy on the ground — but maybe that was because Biden did not hold many traditional rallies.

So the cheering Republican crowds and enthusiasm could be misleading if the pollsters are right.

But Republicans say there’s a big reason why the pollsters could be wrong again — because Trump supporters aren’t cooperating or afraid to admit who they are really supporting. If that’s the case, then even a swing of just a few points could send pollsters down the wrong track.

And pollsters could be just talking to the wrong people. Most polls these days are taken from a mixture of landlines and mobile phones to reach voters, while other polls use the internet to gauge support. Internet polls used to be looked down upon by traditional pollsters, but they could actually be a more accurate reflection of where voters are.

But the real question is why do we need so many polls? Media outlets sponsoring the various polls all want exclusive content and there’s nothing wrong with that. Polls can be a valuable tool to cover how voters are really feeling. But too often the media focus only on the horse race and not enough on the issues that drive it.

That fixation on the horse race will soon be tested. And when the results come in, we’ll know whether pollsters will be celebrating, or explaining away another blown race.


(c)2020 the Boston Herald

Visit the Boston Herald at www.bostonherald.com

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