Unreliable polls are everywhere this year.
“Yes, the Polling Warning Signs Are Flashing Again,” sighed the New York Times resignedly on September 12, 2022, remarking that, “Democrats are polling well in exactly the places where surveys missed most in 2020.”
“Why Are Pollsters Disagreeing About the 2022 Midterms?” wondered Ed Kilgore for the Intelligencer on October 2, 2022.
“Forget the Polls,” added Nick Catoggio the next day. “Let’s Talk About Vibes.”
From complaining that likely Republican voters aren’t community-minded or courteous enough to answer polls to hoping for an anemic rural turnout to save Democrats on November 8, media hot-takes on the midterm election have run an impressive gamut.
Poll-mania this election season has reached a fever pitch.
“Most Candidates Who Think 2020 Was Rigged Are Probably Going to Win in November,” complained FiveThirtyEight last Tuesday. It’s a sentiment being echoed in many media corners as the final days of the 2022 midterm cycle tick away.
Democrats are expecting a rout, mostly due to poor polling numbers. The finger-pointing has already begun in earnest, with political pundits and consultants eager to insulate themselves from the impending ballot box disappointment.
Opinions abound about who is to blame for dimming progressive prospects in 2022. What went wrong with Democratic Party messaging? Why didn’t Democrats listen to voters?
It isn’t as if there weren’t plenty of warnings, not least of which has been the persistent, one-directional polling errors of the past few election cycles.
On October 10, 2022, Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT-I) declared himself “alarmed” at the “advice that many Democratic candidates are getting from establishment consultants and directors of well-funded Super Pacs that the closing argument of Democrats should focus only on abortion.”
In an op-ed published by The Guardian, Sanders begged his fellow progressives to refocus their campaign messages more toward inflation and the economy and away from culture-war skirmishes over abortion access.
If they lose badly on Tuesday, Democrats will be asking themselves how their campaign messaging went so awry.
Pollsters and consultants must have certainly played some role. Such authorities may be overlooking something important about human nature: Most of the time we generally like telling people what they want to hear. Few people enjoy breaking bad news.
Political consultants may be especially recalcitrant about breaking bad news to well-paying clients who could dispense with their services and hire someone else.
The theme that conservative politicians are imperiling democracy is fast becoming a familiar refrain, perhaps too easily tuned out by electorates wearied by constant sky-is-falling rhetoric.
In the U.S., months of televised hearings on the subject of January 6th barely nudged the polling needle at all, something about which media outlets have been much complaining.
“Even if you ask voters about January 6 or election denial, they turn the conversation to the economy,” ABC correspondent Martha Raddatz was heard to complain on last Wednesday’s episode of “World News Tonight”.
There are even some authorities arguing, rather convincingly, that the Democratic Party’s problems run much deeper than a disappointing outcome in a single election.
“Democrats’ Long Goodbye to the Working Class,” Liberal Patriot co-editor and proud Democrat Ruy Teixeira waxed poetically for The Atlantic this morning. Democrats, he argues in the closing days of a very contentious election, “must face a familiar problem.”
“America’s historical party of the working class keeps losing working-class support,” Teixeira warned.
“The aftermath of the 2022 election will likely give them another opportunity to reexamine their approach,” wrote Teixeira. “Will they return to their historical roots? Or will they long goodbye to the working class continue?”
(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)