In politics, perception is everything going into an election. Like it or not, no- and low-information and undecided voters look at the polls and if a candidate is trending; if a candidate has momentum, that holds significant sway come time to cast ballots.
So, as Donald Trump has stated on numerous occasions, the system is rigged against honest Americans; this time the system we are talking about is the polling system. A recent Suffolk University poll indicated Donald Trump is beating Hillary Clinton by a 3 point margin in North Carolina, 44 percent to 41 percent. But even as they call the spread within the margin of error, an examination of the internal numbers shows the poll over-sampled Democrats.
The over-sampling of Democrats presents a weighted result that ignores the voter enthusiasm for Trump (which results in greater voter turnout). This means the spread is much larger than the 3 percentage points the final tally reports.
To be fair to Suffolk University, their polling data is completely transparent. There was no effort to hide their methodology from anyone who wanted to take the time to fully understand the results.
Polling organizations, at least the honest ones, typically use historic models based on the voting patterns of past elections. Suffolk University did just that, using historical voting data from the 2008 and 2012 election cycles as a baseline for their polling model.
But doing this, especially in a cycle that everyone – from the pundits to the “journalists” to the candidates themselves – has declared an anomaly election, betrays some basic truths about the public sentiment about the candidates.
Suffolk’s use of the 2008 and 2012 models grossly underestimates the enthusiasm of the Trump supporters. This enthusiasm results in two basic and important things.
First, it guarantees a higher voter turnout for the candidate among supporters. Asking polling questions of an individual is one thing. Pollsters come to you to ask your opinion. But showing up at the polling place is quite another. Enthusiasm and momentum guarantee your supporters will show up at the polls.
Second, using the models from 2008 and 2012 betrays the fact that a significant number of Democrats have crossed-over party lines to vote for Trump. Enough Democrats have come to the conclusion that Washington, DC needs an outsider and, therefore, they are voting for a “disrupter.” That disrupter is Donald Trump.
Add to that the Bernie Sanders supporters who so vehemently hate Hillary Clinton and you have a voting demographic that will declared “no confidence” in Hillary Clinton at the ballot box by voting for Trump just to make sure Clinton doesn’t win.
So, while there should be good feelings in the air about a three point lead in this poll, the actual lead is much more significant. That said, no lead is insurmountable. And that means we all work as hard as we can until all the votes are counted and Hillary is defeated.