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Forget the Polls, Look at the People

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

In 2016, the polls were largely wrong. With very few exceptions, almost no polls had President Trump winning any of the key swing states, let alone the presidency. As we sit here just days away from the 2020 election, most of the polls again show President Trump trailing and in some cases by a seemingly insurmountable margin. 


It is time pundits do what they should have done throughout 2020: forget the polls and look at the people. Ask yourself, which candidate are people more excited to see? Which candidate is more excited to see their audience?

President Trump is out on the campaign trail enthusiastically delivering 90-minute speeches. He’s making his case and working to earn the votes of Americans, then dancing off stage only to go do another rally. And then another rally after that. The crowds are chanting “we love Trump” at every stop. He is speaking to tens of thousands of voters multiple times each day at stops across the country. These voters are not just showing up but doing so despite being excoriated by a fear mongering media for daring to attend such a gathering amid Covid-19.

The media rationalizes President Trump doing events because he’s desperate and so far behind. What the media entirely ignores is that this is the same momentum the President rode into Election Day 2016. President Trump is maintaining a busy schedule like most candidates do in the final stretch of a campaign. Though never has it been done with the tenacity, stamina, and energy seen by President Trump.

From Maine to Arizona, there are lines of people for miles waiting hours to see President Trump speak. We’ve seen car parades go on for miles and boat parades nearly every week. Even in the liberal bastion of Beverly Hills, there have been Trump rallies. This isn’t to say the President is going to win California, but it represents the energy surrounding President Trump’s campaign.


Contrast President Trump’s approach to Joe Biden, who is going entire days without doing events. He took off four entire days to prepare for the final debate. Did Joe Biden’s performance in that debate look like the performance of someone who had spent 4 days preparing?

When Joe finally does crawl out of the basement, he’s speaking to tens of people, preaching unity as he sows seeds of division. Is there genuinely any reason for him to bother going to Georgia or Florida to speak to a crowd of fewer than 50 people? The only explanation for why Biden would make that token appearance is for the optics of him actually leaving the house.

After everything that happened in 2016, the media still doesn’t get it. The evidence of President Trump’s energy and momentum during the 2016 campaign was evident to everyone, but the pundits consistently wrote it off as unimportant. 

Now, the media and pundits are falling for the same trap again. For the most part, they’re singing the same old song, completely downplaying President Trump’s chances.

The parallels to 2016 are uncanny. Both Democratic candidates have been uniquely disastrous and full of scandal in the election’s final days. Hillary had her “basket of deplorables” comment and her suggestion she was going to put coal miners out of work. Joe Biden has had a mountain of gaffes, including calling Trump supporters “chumps” while claiming he will unite the country, then openly talking about putting the entire fossil fuel industry out of work.


Hillary didn’t visit Wisconsin. Joe Biden has barely visited anywhere. 

There is more than just the current energy and momentum for President Trump that is propelling him toward Election Day. 

Republicans have been showing gains in voter registration in key swing states. Third-quarter GDP numbers are through the roof and suggest the American comeback is within reach. We saw 56 percent of Americans say they are better off today than 4 years ago. President Trump has appointed 3 immensely qualified Justices. We’ve seen growing support for President Trump among Hispanic and Black Americans. He’s delivering on promises to skeptical conservatives who might not have voted for him previously. All in spite of 92 percent negative media coverage.

But if you absolutely must look at polling, look at the Trafalgar Group. Trafalgar was one of the few polls to truly get a sense of how voters were feeling in 2016 and correctly predict the race. Trafalgar again has President Trump ahead in key swing states like North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. 

The recent run of success for Trafalgar didn’t stop them from getting trashed by people like Nate Silver, who was wrong in 2016 and are predicting the same fate in 2020. Silver is one of many in his predictions. 

Virtually every poll has Biden up, and in many cases up by a large margin. Cook Political Report just moved the state of Texas into its “toss-up” category. In 2016, these same experts were giving Hillary Clinton 70, 80, and even 90 percent chances of victory through Election Day.


I contend this 2020 race is going to be a lot closer than all these experts are telling us. If we just trust our eyes, as we all should have in 2016, it’s not difficult to see history is repeating itself. President Trump is on his way to being elected to a second term. 

Evan Berryhill is a lawyer and political strategist at GOPAC and formerly worked as a Capitol Hill communications staffer. You can follow him on Twitter @EvBerryhill.

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