While a lot of candidates and issues fell short of victory on Election Day, no group of organizations suffered a greater hit to their credibility in the political process than the polling industry.
What You Need To Know
- Pollsters predicted Biden would win Florida
- They also predicted Democrats would expand control in the House
In their last polls before the presidential election in Florida, Emerson and Monmouth University separately had Joe Biden up by six points over President Trump, Quinnipiac had Biden up by 5 points, and Reuters/Ipsos and NBC News/Marist had Biden up by 4 points.
Biden lost the Sunshine State to Donald Trump by nearly 3.5 points.
Declaring his disgust with the level of inaccuracy of current political polling on Wednesday was Justin Sayfie, the South Florida attorney and government consultant best known for his “Sayfie Review” website which has been aggregating some of the top political stories of the day in Florida since 2002.
Sayfie tweeted that he was done with linking to any polls from media organizations or polling firms to his website.
“These polls can be misleading. They cause a lot of doubt,” Sayfie told Spectrum Bay News 9 on Wednesday. “There’s skepticism, and I didn’t want to allow those polls to propagate themselves on my website. It increases distrust of news, and I think that the news industry right now needs to do things to build trust with its readers and with its viewers.”
In addition to blowing it on the presidential race, predictions for the Democrats to retake the U.S. Senate and gain a substantial number of seats in the House also appear to be inaccurate as of this writing. Those results prompted The Atlantic’s David Graham to describe the evening as a “disaster for the polling industry and for media outlets and analysts that package and interpret the polls for public consumption.”
Kelso Tanner, a Hillsborough County GOP political consultant, says what voters should take out of the Tuesday night when it comes to polling is that it should be considered an “interesting sidebar” but not something that should ever affect their vote.
“I think voters should just not pay attention to the noise and should just look at a candidate and say, ‘look. Does this person shall my values or not?’ Then I’m going to vote for this person, regardless of what the polls say.”
After Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in 2016, public polling was severely criticized as being inaccurate, but the industry pushed back. National polling organizations noted that Clinton did win the popular vote and that many of their surveys were within the margin of error. Some of the most egregious polls came in some swing states like Wisconsin, where most surveys had Hillary Clinton up by at least five percentage points the night before the election (Trump won it by less than a point).
Sayfie says he risks the trust of his readers if he’s pushing out information that’s constantly inaccurate and says every news organization needs to think deeply about continuing to publish surveys from pollsters who keep getting it wrong.
“If you had a source or a newspaper that had a source that they found out was lying to them repeatedly and was given wrong information repeatedly, they would stop using that person as a source,” he says. “Out of out of respect for their readers, and out of respect for their own credibility. And I think that they should treat polls the same exact way.”