IVN recently reported on the fact that the current political environment is really a tale of two realities. Hyper-partisanship has gotten so bad that people perceive the world with their own truth (with a lowercase “t”) and it can be difficult to discern what is and is not fact, because media outlets tend to stick to one “truth” or the other.
Take daily presidential approval polling. On Wednesday, there were two drastically different reports that came out. CNN, for example, reported that Donald Trump’s polling had dropped to a new low of 35 percent. Yet at the same time, conservative-leaning news aggregator Drudge Report ran with the headline, “Trump Bump: 46% Approve.”
That is no small gap in polling disparity, either. That is an 11-point difference.
Drudge Report linked to a Rasmussen Poll published Wednesday morning. CNN, on the other hand, reported on a Quinnipiac poll that released Tuesday. Now the curious thing is the disparity in the polls, because though Rasmussen is often seen as having a more right-leaning bias and there are polling agencies who historically have a more left-leaning bias, these polls are never that far apart — certainly not 11 points.
On Wednesday, for instance, Gallup found Trump approval at 42 percent, 4 points off from Rasmussen. Economist/YouGov shows 43 percent. The latest PPP, a historically left-leaning poll, has Trump at 40 percent. So the issue may just be with Quinnipiac, except it is not alone in finding Trump at such low numbers. Investor’s Business Daily/TIPP has Trump at 34 percent.
Now, many people will say, “Well we already know that presidential polling is flawed. Why does this matter?” It matters because for better or worse these polls end up driving the national political narrative, one way or another. Left-leaning news outlets will report ad nauseam on the 35 percent from Quinnipiac, while conservative-leaning sites and channels will only show the Rasmussen poll.
And then people only get the poll from the news outlet they prefer — the news outlet they watch because it affirms their preconceived notions of things, and the reality divide continues.
After getting the 2016 election completely wrong and showing huge disparities in presidential approval, why do we continue to let these polls drive the larger, national political discussion? Isn’t it time we stop putting so much faith in these polls?
What do you think?