The most sought-after opinions this election cycle are from those who actually called 2016 for President Trump, against what the majority of polls and pundits had America believe about Hillary Clinton’s chances.
One of those people is former columnist, attorney, and pollster Matt Towery, who tried to retire from the polling business but got pulled back in. The Wall Street Journal caught up with him to find out whether he’s still confident Trump will win.
“I am,” he told the Journal, “and I’m increasingly confident.”
Towery said pollsters’ models are not good at “picking up the average guy on the street” and cellphones have made it increasingly difficult to get a representative sample, let alone from young people (who wants to pick up a call from an unknown number and spend 20 minutes taking questions, he asked).
InsiderAdvantage, the political news site he founded and is chairman of, uses a “mix of techniques” to get their data. After explaining why conventional pollsters were wrong in 2016, he says similar flaws are still present in this year’s models.
Yes, the president has lost support from seniors and women, and while InsiderAdvantage’s last Pennsylvania poll has Mr. Trump ahead, Mr. Towery says the Midwest will be a real battle for the president to hold. But there are other trends he thinks the major polls may be missing.
Start with the black vote. Though he knows Republicans have for years been predicting a swing in the black vote only to be disappointed when it doesn’t come in, he says 14% or 15% for Mr. Trump isn’t impossible this year, which would be up from 8% in 2016. He’s also now seeing a movement toward Mr. Trump from young voters who are tired of being locked up at home because of Covid-19 and see Mr. Biden as the candidate of shutdowns. The momentum, Mr. Towery says, has clearly shifted to the president.
He also holds a contrarian view of the president’s rallies. Unlike media elites and Beltway political observers who dismiss these people and their MAGA hats, Mr. Towery thinks the rallies will pay huge dividends on Election Day. “Trump has an instinct for what a showman needs to show,” he says. He believes the rallies will prove particularly helpful in getting people out in the rural areas where the president needs every last vote. (WSJ)
Towery acknowledged that while there is real disdain for the president on the left, the flip side of that picture is shown in the crowd sizes at his rallies: “[T]he crowds Trump is drawing says there are people who will walk over hot coals to vote for Trump.” Look at the one in Butler, Pennsylvania, for a good example.
On top of that, Trump is fighting until the very end, unlike other Republicans who appeared to give up in the final days (George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole, John McCain).
Of course, Towery has not been right about everything and if he's wrong about 2020, he really will retire from polling, he told the Journal, but he strongly believes that's not the case this year. “I think the pollsters and pundits who had this a blowout for Biden are not going to be very happy later this week," he said.