Pollsters disappear in Georgia with Senate on the line

“Should we just expect the Georgia polls to be right? I think that would be a little bit of a mistake,” said Nick Gourevitch, a Democratic pollster. “Everybody fundamentally understands that it’s going to become an issue of partisan turnout. And anybody who tells you they know exactly what’s going to happen in terms of partisan turnout in a special election with two senators to decide control of the Senate in a post-Trump era when he’s not on the [ballot] — nobody knows the answer to that question. It’s a completely unique situation.”

Public polling of the races has been sparse and generally shows both races deadlocked, as one might expect given the close November results in Georgia. Since the general election, FiveThirtyEight has tracked 12 polls of both contests, though most of those polls were conducted by firms with mixed or limited track records: Only two of those surveys were conducted by pollsters the site gives better than a “B-” rating. In their averages, the Republicans candidates each lead by less than a percentage point…

Part of the reason public pollsters are staying away from Georgia is the awkward timing of the races. With the elections being held on Jan. 5, the final two weeks of the race are coinciding with the Christmas and New Year’s holidays — typically a time when pollsters refrain from calling Americans on the phone. The voters who would answer a telephone poll or participate in an internet survey over the holidays might be meaningfully different from those who wouldn’t, which would skew the results.