Donald is touting a questionable poll from Quinnipiac University putting him within two points of Hillary. Apparently losing is thrilling to him, if only by a smaller margin.
After weeks of polls showing Hillary ahead of Donald by wide margins, he and the media can finally get excited about an outlier poll that suggests a close race: The new survey from Quinnipiac University.
“It would be difficult to imagine a less flattering from-the-gut reaction to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton,” the pollster’s analysis says. “This is where we are. Voters find themselves in the middle of a mean-spirited, scorched earth campaign between two candidates they don’t like. And they don’t think either candidate would be a good president.”
Except things most certainly could be less flattering — as the poll does have good news for Hillary. By very wide margins, she is viewed as more qualified than Donald in such areas as handling an international crisis, responsible control of nuclear weapons, reducing gun violence, personal moral standards, intelligence — and oh yeah, actually being prepared to become president.
But that’s only the start of the problem here — especially when we start comparing Quinnipiac to other outlets.
As you can see from polling within the last 10 days, Quinnipiac stands alone in its depiction of the race as particularly close. Most other polls place the race somewhere between 4 and 6 points, and a healthy number of polls place it at 8 points or above. Of course, the Quinnipiac poll is getting a lot of press because it is unique in showing a close race. But there’s one thing to be aware of: A “unique poll result” is often an indication of a bad poll result.
One of the central critiques one can levy at Quinnipiac is that they tend to under-represent minorities. Polls such as PPP, IBD/TIPP, and others are all predicting that white turnout will be around 70 percent in 2016, down from 72 percent in the 2012 exit poll. Quinnipiac, on the other hand, has white turnout pegged at 73%, or possibly even more when one factors in any of the respondents who declined to identify their race to the pollster. Given their track record of under-representing minorities in their polls, it’s easy to see how their numbers are suspect.
Another dubious finding in this poll is Hispanic support for Donald at 33% when most polls place it around 20%. In this particular sample, Quinnipiac found a group of Hispanic voters who are much more likely to vote for him than what any other poll has found, lending to its inaccuracy.
Here’s the thing: Quinnipiac’s credibility is still shaky ever since their dishonest, discredited, and widely disseminated 2015 poll announcing that in a word-association exercise, voters immediately thought of Hillary Clinton as a “liar” (among other very unflattering terms):
While Quinnipiac presented the poll as evidence that voters associated “liar” with Hillary, we demonstrated that it was Republican and Republican-leaning respondents to the Q-poll who linked Hillary to liar and other derogatory terms (including “bitch”). It is a vastly different thing for Republicans, parroting Fox news and talk radio, to hurl misogynistic insults at Hillary than for all voters to believe Hillary is a liar.
As Mediaite explained at the time, the polling release for this particular question used the raw, unweighted sample of poll respondents, as opposed to the later adjustments that are done to bring the poll’s sample into line with population demographics. This resulted in a sample that was slightly more Republican than normal. In addition, the poll did not list any word-association responses that got less than five answers given back — which cut out up to a third of the total respondent pool.
The result, as Mediaite said: “On that basis, as far as we know, only 35% of the people asked had something negative to say about Hillary Clinton.” But the way Quinnipiac and the media played it, Hillary was seen as a “liar” by the majority of American voters.
With Quinnipiac’s history of exaggerating their findings and even reporting faulty ones, you should place extra scrutiny on their polls. So when they report a result that is so much different from every other poll out there, this only adds to the weight of scrutiny you should give it.
Unfortunately, the media seemingly do not practice this scrutiny — and this poll is being treated as some real news of the day. Anything to maintain a narrative.
[Anthony Reed of Benchmark Politics contributed to this post.]