In the window just before and between the conventions, I told you to ignore the Hillary Clinton vs Donald Trump polls and projections because they would become gibberish. Sure enough, a week after both conventions were finished, the polls gradually started to begin making sense again. These past few weeks have been another one of those windows of time where the polls must be ignored – and so will the next week, more so than ever.
No one has changed their mind about who they’re voting for over this past month. Anyone who didn’t make up their mind during the conventions is now waiting until after the debates get going to make up their mind. The only polls that have changed this month are the ones that changed their methodology to deliver shocking results and get attention during an otherwise stagnant stretch. If you’ve even so much as looked at the polls this month, you’re being played.
This will change soon. Now that the debates will begin causing actual shifts in the polls, the polling outlets will no longer need to screw with their methodology in order to create the appearance of movement.
But keep in mind that any polls released this week will have been partially or fully conducted before the debate, so they’ll be useless. Worse, a number of media outlets will quote these obsolete “new” polls as if they were a measure of how the debate went.
Please ignore all polls released this week. It’ll be next week before we see any polls released which reflect the debates. Even then, it’ll take another week or two after that before all of the polling outlets get around to delivering their first post-debate polls.
I’m not answering any questions about polls or polling averages or polling predictive models this week, and it’s not because I don’t love you guys. It’s because my answer is going to be “stop looking at them” for now, and my answer won’t change no matter what shocking faux-numbers cable news trots out in the mean time.
For those who think the polls are never valid, keep in mind that the final polling averages accurately predicted Obama’s win over Romney in 2012. It was only the media lying to you about the polls by quoting outliers that showed Romney ahead. The polls end up being right far more often than not. There are just periods of the election where they have to be ignored, and this is one of them. And cable news is always (not usually but always) misleading you about the polls.
For those wondering, once you remove the polls whose methodology has been illegitimately changed (such as CNN) and the polls which have proven to be wildly consistent outliers (LA Times), you find that Hillary Clinton is leading Donald Trump by around four points nationwide right now. That’s right where it was a month ago. This race truly has not changed over the past month – and that’s why the media has had to try so hard to create movement where there hasn’t been any.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report