Many in the media bought the polls because they could not imagine that half the country was not as disgusted by Trump and his Republican “enablers” as they were. After four years of branding Trump a bigot, they had trouble understanding how the president succeeded in actually expanding his Black and Latino support in 2020, which helped give him his margin of victory in Florida.
Given this failure to correctly predict the election, is it any wonder that a lot of Americans don’t trust the media to call the election? Or that they buy Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of fraud? Trust in the media, and its essential role as a neutral arbiter of fact, lies in tatters. A recent study from Gallup and the Knight Foundation found that 86 percent of Americans say the news media is biased, and 73 percent say the bias in the reporting of news that is supposed to be objective is “a major problem.” The bias is seen as ideological. Almost three-fourths of Republicans and 52 percent of independents have a “very” or “somewhat” unfavorable view of the news media, compared with 22 percent of Democrats.
Indeed, many Republicans see the polling errors all going in one direction — in the Democrats’ favor — and begin to wonder if all those lopsided polls amplified by the media affected the outcome of the election by dispiriting and suppressing Republican turnout.
Of course, the pollsters were not trying to get it wrong. But some in the media intentionally deceived voters.