Not a Sign of the Times
On Wednesday after the election, I made a comment to a friend about the Los Angeles Times poll – and he corrected me in a VERY pointed way. If you haven't read much about their poll, it was an outlier the entire election. They had done it in a very different way from all other polls, in part because of how they determined who would be polled, in part how they weighted answers based on enthusiasm. And for the past half year, their results have been so far out of sync from everyone else.
What I noted to my friend was that for all the scorn I’d heaped on the L.A. Times poll, it turned out that they were the only one that was right. The day before the election, they had Trump up by five points (though said they were a few days behind the news, so the end margin might have been a bit closer, though still favoring Trump). And to my surprise -- because he was not an admirer of Hillary Clinton in the slightest, though he abhorred Trump and I believe may have voted for a third party -- he corrected me and said, NO, the LA. Times was not accurate.
Semi-comforting as that was after my months of scorn against it, I was staring at the numbers, and there they were, showing the paper having Trump defeating Clinton.
What he reminded me, though, is that the Los Angeles Times had been polling for general national results, not Electoral Votes, which the aggregators like Nate Silver or the New York Times, Larry Sabado, or the Huffington Post Pollster did. And in the general voting…Hillary Clinton, in fact, beat Trump. And beat Trump solidly, nearing a two million vote margin at the moment, with counting in California still going. But the L.A. Times had it the exact other way around: in the national general numbers they had him beating her. The other polls that looked at general preference numbers all had Hillary Clinton ahead of Trump – and indeed she did end up ahead of Trump. Well ahead.
So, in fact, the L.A. Times poll was the only one of note got got it WRONG.
Furthermore, the Los Angeles Times wrote an article about themselves, crowing about having been correct in their poll. Several articles, in fact, at least three that I've seen, patting itself on the back for seeing what everyone else was mistaken about. "Surprise! The Times' Poll Was Right," one story was headlined. Or another that emblazoned, "The USC/L.A. Times Poll Saw What Other Surveys Missed." In fact, while patting itself on the back, the L.A. Times was wrong. And not only wrong, but the only major poll that I know of that was wrong. Moreover, shame on them because they have subsequently compounded being the only poll wrong by gloating about how they were right. When in fact...they were wrong.
Well -- in the end, saying one thing when the reality was another at least does fit in with much of the presidential campaign.
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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