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Everywhere I go I find a pal

Everywhere I go  I find a pal Everywhere I go  I find a pal

Peter Weinschenk, Editor, The Record-Review

Such a crazy election!

As I write this, the U.S. presidential race remains undecided as vote counters in Wisconsin, Michigan, Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Arizona and Pennsylvania continue to thumb through Tuesday’s ballots.

Joe Biden, the Democrat, claims he’s on a glide path to the White House. Its current occupant, Donald Trump, a Republican, has claimed victory and has threatened to go to the U.S. Supreme Court to halt counting votes past Nov. 3.

None of this, of course, was supposed to have happened.

The polls predicted a Democratic landslide on Tuesday. They were wrong.

This, to me, is very confusing.

I decided to remain dispassionate this election and follow the polling data. I thought I was being scientific, empirical. For over a year, I checked the polling averages of the Biden vs. Trump race on a couple of websites before tucking myself in for bed. In my sweet dreams, I thought I knew what was going on. The polls were remarkably consistent day after day, week after week, month after month.

It turns out that I and millions of others who followed these false prophets had no idea what was going on. For months, I drove around the rural roads of Marathon County and saw a plethora of Trump signs with my eyes. I decided that this was an illusion. The real data were the polls, I told myself.

So, I am starry-eyed after being smacked on the head with electoral reality. I am scrambling to understand how there could be such a disconnect between the polls and the actual vote totals. Could it be that people, especially Trump voters, lied to pollsters? Could it be that poll takers, in this day and age of undisclosed cell phone numbers, never could reach Trump supporters?

My current theory has to do with unlikely voters. Most pollsters look at lists of voters and start calling people. They don’t call up people who don’t vote. And you shouldn’t call these people. They don’t vote.

What happened on Tuesday, however, is that nearly everybody who was registered showed up to vote. These people were not just likely voters, but also unlikely voters.

The pollsters erred in thinking people would be, as they always are, apathetic. Instead, an energized electorate turned in more votes than ever before. They blew up everybody’s “sophisticated” prognostications.

This large turnout revealed what is, perhaps, a fatal flaw in election polling. The system can work if only likely voters show up. If you poll unlikely voters, your data will be skewed. But if you exclude unlikely voters, your predictions will miss the mark in a big turnout election. Either way, polling will be wrong.

So much for looking at politics in a dispassionate, analytical way.

Maybe the only way to really know what is going on is to take the pulse of what is going on and trust your instincts. Maybe politics isn’t numbers. It’s feelings.

Contact Peter Weinschenk at pweinschenk@