Could the 2022 Midterms Change Polling Forever?

News & Politics

As you may know, the Trafalgar Group has a stellar reputation for accuracy. In 2016, it accurately predicted Trump’s victory and that he’d win with 306 electoral votes. It has maintained a consistent record of having highly accurate polls, establishing itself as one of America’s most accurate pollsters in 2018, 2020, and 2021 as well. Trafalgar’s record speaks for itself. This year, Trafalgar Group’s polling has often stood out for results that look much different than other polling outfits, so it goes without saying that its methodology will be tested once again tonight in the 2022 midterms.

One race in particular where Trafalgar Group’s polling deviated from the rest was the New York gubernatorial election. While most other polls have shown Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) with a substantial lead, Trafalgar’s latest poll shows the race in a virtual tie — with Rep. Lee Zeldin (R) having a slight lead within the margin of error.

Trafalgar Group’s polls show several races looking very different from the majority of polls. In Colorado, most polls show Sen. Michael Bennet (D) with a healthy lead over Republican challenger Joe O’Dea, but Trafalgar has Bennet up by two points, within the poll’s margin of error.

While most recent polls now show Herschel Walker (R-Ga.) leading Democrat Sen. Raphael Warnock, Trafalgar Group has Walker up four points, which is larger than the RealClearPolitics average of 1.4 points.

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Most polls show Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) with a solid lead over Republican Tiffany Smiley, but Trafalgar has Murray up by a mere point.

And then there’s New Hampshire, where most polls show incumbent Democrat Sen. Maggie Hassan with a small lead over Gen. Don Bolduc (R-N.H.), but Trafalgar has Bolduc slightly ahead.

Will Trafalgar Group prove to be the most accurate yet again?

Over the summer, I interviewed Robert Cahaly, the senior strategist and pollster of the Trafalgar Group and asked him about the discrepancies between his polls and others. He believes Trafalgar’s methods speak for themselves.

“Our philosophy is very different,” he told me. “And that’s the reason so many in the polling community don’t like it.”

Cahaly, however, doesn’t care if the majority of pollsters disapprove because the surveys conducted by Trafalgar Group have a smaller margin of error. So what’s the secret? “We really believe that one of the most fundamental flaws in public polling is long questionnaires,” he explained.

“The number one question we get is, ‘How long is this going to take?’” he says. “And if you say something other than just two or three minutes… average people with real lives and real stuff to do, they hang up the phone.”

So there’s plenty of reason to believe that Trafalgar Group has cracked the code to achieving more accurate polling than its competitors. Even Nate Cohn, the New York Times‘ chief political analyst, has warned that “the polling warning signs are flashing again,” as he has found “a consistent link between Democratic strength today and polling error two years ago.”

But if most polls are once again wrong, Cohn already knows why. “If the polls are wrong yet again, it will not be hard to explain. Most pollsters haven’t made significant methodological changes since the last election.”

This is why I’ve given Trafalgar Group’s polling this cycle far more attention than its competitors. Its methodology has worked extremely well in the past and may very well prove to be the most accurate again. Should this happen, other polling outfits will have to reevaluate their polling methodology going forward.

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