John and I were chatting along these same lines on Friday, after his three-part series on the terrible polling throughout the campaign. Which side was hurt by the data indicating a Biden landslide and which side was helped, we wondered?
There’s an obvious argument that it hurt the GOP. If Republicans were convinced that Trump and their party’s downballot candidates were dead men walking then they had less of an incentive to turn out. “Suppression polls,” Trump has called them, because of their potential to discourage supporters from believing that their party has a fighting chance and therefore that it’s worth casting a ballot.
I’m skeptical, though. Which party spent the past four years believing, rightly, that the polls had underestimated Trump once before and therefore couldn’t be trusted to gauge his support correctly this year? Which candidate once famously instructed his voters that “Any negative polls are fake news”? For lefties, polling is Science! For populist righties, polling is just an instrument of technocratic ideological bias dressed up as something rigorous.