ORLANDO, Fla. - The most recent NBS/Wall Street Journal poll shows Joe Biden well ahead of President Trump, but FOX 35 spoke with a professional pollster who says polls do not predict elections.
“Most of the polls showed President Trump significantly behind Hillary Clinton in 2016. Trump won,” said Matt Towery, professional pollster.
Towery pointed to 2016 as an example of how inaccurate polls can be. The pollster is formerly with InsiderAdvantage Georgia, a national polling organization. He is currently the pollster for the Sean Hannity Show.
“Polling is highly unreliable now. It’s not anywhere as reliable as it was before,” Towery said.
So, what’s the problem? The pollster says it’s the methodology, which is primarily calling cellphones.
“The problem now is, think of the average person with a cellphone, you usually don’t answer an unknown number, even if you do, you’re probably out doing something,” Towery said. “These surveys have as many as 60-70 questions. That means it’s a 20-to-30-minute poll. Who’s going to take that?”
Towery says because of the lack of participation, polling organizations are surveying the same people over and over.
“They created a super panel, who are willing to be involved in the interview. That has a big impact on reliability because you’re no longer randomly calling just anyone, you are calling people who are hyper-political, overly-interested in politics,” Towery said.
Not exactly a sample of the average voter. So if polls are generally wrong, why do them?
“What polls do is they give us an idea of the momentum of a race,” Towery said.
To help not only the voters but campaigns understand if they are doing better or worse.
“It’s not going to pinpoint who’s going to win, what it will tell you is the momentum going for one candidate or against the other,” Towery said.
Towery says that could result in higher voter turnout. He says doing extremely well in polls is actually a dangerous thing for campaigns.
“When polls come out and show your candidate is substantially ahead, that hurts the candidate who’s ahead, because their voters say, ‘Gee, they don’t need my vote.’ It decreases voter intensity for the candidate who’s blowing the other one out,” Towery said.
Towery expects President Trump will likely see a positive boost in the polls following his coronavirus hospitalization.
“Images of your president being airlifted to a hospital, tend to evoke emotion,” he said. “You can’t buy publicity, like the entire nation watching you being airlifted to Walter Reed.”