(USA Features) A new study has found that, for the most part, polling data from major firms routinely understated support for then-President Donald Trump during last year’s election cycle.
In addition, the same study found that polling also underestimated, generally, Republican state and congressional candidates as well.
Researchers with the American Association for Public Opinion Research found that polling undercut the former president’s support in ways similar to 2016, when most all of them had Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton winning hands-down.
Josh Clinton, a Vanderbilt University professor and AAPOR task force member, told The Washington Post “there was a systematic error that was found in terms of the overstatement for Democratic support across the board.”
“It didn’t matter what type of poll you were doing, whether you’re interviewing by phone or internet or whatever,” Clinton added.
“And it didn’t matter what type of race, whether Trump was on the ballot or was not on the ballot,” he told the Post.
Also, polling that showed Democrats would do better in the House were also wrong, as Republicans outperformed those surveys and nearly recaptured the majority.
According to the Post, the study found “that the polls overstated Biden’s support more in whiter, more rural, and less densely populated states is suggestive (but not conclusive) that the polling error resulted from too few Trump supporters responding to polls.
“A larger polling error was found in states with more Trump supporters,” the paper added.
“It’s possible that if President Trump is no longer on the ticket or if it’s a midterm election where we know that the electorate differs in the presidential election, that the issue will kind of self-resolve itself,” Clinton told the Post.
“But if the polls do well in 2022, then we don’t know if the issue is solved or whether it’s just a phenomenon that’s unique to presidential elections, with particular candidates who are making appeals about ‘Don’t trust the news, don’t trust the polls’ that kind of results in taking polls becoming a political act,” he added.
The task force analyzed 2,858 polls, including 539 national presidential contest polls and 1,572 state-level presidential surveys.
Researchers found that surveys overstated the gap between Joe Biden and Trump by about 3.9% in the national popular vote and some 4.3% in state polls, according to the Post.
Polls understated Trump support in almost every state, and by an average of 3.3 percentage points overall.
Meanwhile, polls in Senate and gubernatorial races encountered the same problem.