The first thing we do, kill all the pollsters. Smart money may still be on Joe Biden to ultimately win as the winner of the 2020 presidential election, but I’ve seen enough to declare the poll industry and its cousin, the “Election Predictions probabilistic ”, as the biggest losers.
I am not the only one who thinks this. Republican pollster Frank Luntz told Axios that “the profession of political pollster is over” after Tuesday. “Political polls are a fraud,” writes conservative John Podhoretz in the New York Post. It turns out that 2016’s “Trump PTSD” wasn’t a paranoid or out of touch response; it was an intelligent defense mechanism. At one point, the night looked suspiciously like 2016, meaning the so-called experts ruined it. Again. Even if Biden continues to win, it’s a far cry from the landslide we’ve come to expect.
Probabilistic forecasts, closely tied to the polling industry, have hampered our understanding of elections and the electorate. That’s because it creates an inherent plating of certainty no matter how much you insist otherwise. We were all better off when people simply said “polls are snapshots and things can always change.” The appeal of data journalism was that it would provide objective clarity, and that just isn’t the case.
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