Part of the Trump team’s ridiculous tapestry of denial concerns election polling this cycle, and how far off it was, as another piece of spurious proof that the results are invalid.
They’re right about one thing: The polls were off this year. Election prognosticators were not as far off as they were in 2016, when the New York Times gave Hillary Clinton an 85 percent chance of winning on Election Day. But they once again underestimated the power of Trump, the scale and shape of his voters, their reluctance to be polled.
We’ve all heard of the “shy Trump voters,” who buy into the man and his myth but are hesitant to share those views in public because it makes other people not like them. In theory, I supposed, it all made sense: Supporting Trump is a pretty shameful act, right up there with bad-mouthing the troops and hating dogs.
And then there are others who lie to pollsters… just for the fun of it. I came across one the other day: When I brought up the subject of inaccurate polling, he said, “Oh yeah. I always lie to them.”
This took me aback, as if someone had just admitted to pissing in the pool.
I have a background in sociology and statistics, so I know that many (many!) people are reluctant to have their opinions surveyed. But it never really occurred to me that so many people lie to pollsters just for the fuck of it, and there was never any discussion of it in any of my statistics classes or the cases we studied.
These are smart people, trying to gather information before we make important decisions. Who would object?
Well, people do.
But why? Even a seemingly insane or destructive action makes sense to the person performing it. What would compel someone to deliberately skew our best efforts at accuracy?
They likely don’t look at it that way. Some people resent being asked questions. Some people are afraid of the truth. Some people like pissing in the pool.
As for my friend, he thinks, that measuring public opinion is a windmill-tilting that can never ascertain a true measure; his actions merely reinforce that point.