If you had a sense of déjà vu about this election you would be forgiven. Since mid-August when Trump has climbed into contention with Clinton nationally and risen in the polls in battleground states such as Ohio and Florida we have started to hear a familiar refrain (via 2012 Republicans) from Democrats, “The polls are skewed against Clinton.”
In 2012, when Mitt Romney was gaining on Obama nationally, the state polls refused to move. Even as Romney was within one point of Obama nationally on the eve of the election he trailed in every swing state polling average except North Carolina.
Republicans argued the polls were skewed. In essence, the pollsters’ samples were wrong. They pointed to the huge partisan gap in states like Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida. For example, in Ohio most polls found Democrats outweighing Republicans in surveys by 5-10 points. On election night, exit polls found Democrats self-identified as 38 percent of voters compared to 31 percent of Republicans.
This occurred even as many Republicans and analysts thought Democrats were the unenthused partisans and Republicans were gearing to vote. This cycle, there seems to be a shift. Democrats are the unenthused partisans while many GOP leaning Independents and Republicans are showing they are more likely to vote.
Take the case of a Bloomberg/Ann Selzer poll out of Ohio last week that showed Trump ahead by 5 points. Not only did Trump lead among “True Independents” but the sample showed 43 percent of voters identifying as Republican or leaning Republican while only 36 percent said the same for Democrats.
This is hardly the only poll to show such an occurrence. A CNN survey released the next day showing Trump up 5 percent also revealed Republicans making up a much larger share of the electorate than 2012. Suffolk and Emerson surveys of the states showed a more split electorate but enough Republicans voting to give Trump leads due to his margins among Independents.
Democrats allege this is because the polls are wrong. Beyond skewing, party stalwarts believe this also might be due to the media harping on Clinton endlessly, depressing Democratic turnout and reminding Republicans of everything they do not like about Clinton.
The problem with these Democratic beliefs is that they mirror Republican beliefs in 2012 and they run into the same roadblocks. It is not just one poll but multiple polls showing this occurring. Secondly, voters are selectively identifying whether they respond to pollsters or not which it turns out is a fairly reliable indicator for whether voters will turn out or not.
Lastly, polls indicate that Clinton is running behind Obama among virtually every racial and socio-economic group except college educated whites. For example, newly released surveys out of Colorado, Nevada, and nationally show Trump actually besting Romney’s margins with Hispanics.
In an election where both candidates are detested turnout truly is the name of the game. Undecided voters should have come home by now if they intended to make a ballot choice and the strength of Gary Johnson suggests many of his supporters will be eternally resistant to the T-Man and Clinton. Thus, no wonder Democrats are scared that recent polls showing Trump ahead based on rosy turnout are real.