According to Eugene Robinson’s June 16 column (“Trump losing dramatically in the polls,” The Daily Progress in print), Donald Trump should already be calling the moving van for next January, having recently been trounced in several polls taken on behalf of NBC, The Wall Street Journal, CNN and other media outlets.
The polls that Robinson finds so heartening should rather give him pause. Take the CNN poll, for example.
On page 18, its “methodology” section reveals that, of the 1,259 adults interviewed in the poll, 32% were Democrats, 25% were Republicans and 44% were independents or members of another party. So, as long as voters vote in those proportions, Joe Biden might be elected president if the election were held today.
But according to a different Gallup report cited in Wikipedia, the voter population of the U.S. is more like 31% Democratic, 30% Republican and 36% independent.
The NBC/Wall Street Journal poll in June interviewed 1,000 registered voters. On page 17 of the report, respondents are said to be 35% Democratic, 26% Republican and 30% independent. Of the independents, a third lean Democratic, less than a third lean Republican and more than a third are “strictly independent.” Nine percent of the entire sample identify with another party or are not sure.
The Washington Post-Schar poll from the first week of June has a sample of 1,006 adults, with 33% Democratic, 24% Republican and 41% independent.
When you drill down into most polls, you find that Democrats (and sometimes independents) have been oversampled while Republicans are apt to be undersampled. The percentages are not exactly the same, but the tendency holds.
These polls are only June snapshots — and evidently unbalanced ones. Much will happen between now and November. (Let us not forget that, in February, a Wall Street Journal poll showed that Bernie Sanders was beating Joe Biden.) Until November, Mr. Robinson and his friends would be wise not to count their unhatched chickens.
Miles N. Fowler