Entries RSS Feed Share Send to Facebook Tweet This Accessible version

An analysis of the failure of opinion polls in the US

November 6th, 2020

As the result of the US election was still too early to call, a centrist analyst ponders the failure by pollsters to predict the closeness of the presidential race and concludes that this reveals deep problems within American democracy.

On Azonnali, foreign affairs analyst Máté Szalai warns that since pollsters failed to measure the strength of the Trump electorate for the second time, in 2020 as in 2016, the reasons must be systemic. He agrees with the widespread view that because of the mainstream pressure against Trump, supporters of the incumbent president refused to disclose their true voting inclinations to pollsters. He dismisses the argument according to which there is no such a thing as a ‘liberal opinion terror’ – he himself as a researcher has consistently felt pressure in the international academic community to condemn Trump. Secondly, the campaign built on disparaging remarks against Trump also prompted the President’s supporters to be wary about answering questions from pollsters. All this, he writes, exposes the deep divisions within American society which make it difficult to find out what people really think. He also fears that the Democratic Party, if Biden wins, may feel absolved from the necessary self-examination and from realising that to be anti-Trump is not a sufficient basis for successful politics. Szalai ends with a disclaimer – he would welcome the victory of a Democratic Party, but one which is more competent, and which holds ideas more substantial than simple identity politics. Such a Democratic Party, he concludes, would have a valuable impact on Hungary’s not overly creative Left as well.

Tags: , , ,