The Polls Are Wrong About Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania

These California districts voted big for Biden, but Republicans are optimistic about their chances in the presidential election

By Rachel Hamblin

December 17th, 2018

The polls are all over the place:

They’ve been wrong about Trump before. But this is different. This time, they’re absolutely wrong.

It’s a little bit like when a meteorologist says the sky is black. There actually is no meteor storm. It’s just black—until it’s not.

And so, the polls were wrong when they predicted the Electoral College votes for the first time in about two centuries. They’re wrong again now that they’ve forecast Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania winning their electors for the Democrats. (They also won in Michigan and Pennsylvania, too.)

The key is what the polls say about the states that went for Hillary. (You can get the full list here.) And now that those states are for one of the two main parties, all bets are off.

“[Electoral College] didn’t look good in the beginning,” said Democratic consultant Hank Sheinkopf, who ran a campaign in Michigan for former Secretary of State Barbara Comstock in 1988. He is backing Biden’s bid in this state. “Electors, they’re supposed to turn out based on party registration. It’s why you have caucuses and primaries to select a candidate—but then they’re supposed to vote for the presidential nominee. They are not supposed to vote for the vice presidential nominee.”

They didn’t, and never have. And now it looks as if they can’t get the votes they need.

To some extent, the outcome is a testament to the electorate in blue states, where turnout was high in places like Georgia and Virginia, where Clinton won. But it’s also the result of the electoral college.

“It’s not just a state thing, there’s a national thing, too,” said Josh Lederman, a veteran Democratic strategist who worked on the 1988 Florida race for Comstock. “Trump won [Michigan and Pennsylvania] because he convinced a majority of the country that he was good for the Republican party and good for the country. That message went national, and it wasn’t just in Michigan and Pennsylvania.”


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