Here’s the Thing the Media Isn’t Telling You About the Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump Polls

As a writer/blogger, I understand part of the media is marketing and sales. You have to have content, headlines, stories and information that lures in viewers, readers or listeners. Some people can whine and cry about “clickbait” all they want, but part of the media (independent and mainstream alike) is trying to bring people to your content. I’m usually fine with it as long as the content is important, the “clickbait” isn’t ridiculously over-the-top and the information being presented is factual and contextually accurate, even if there’s plenty of opinion mixed in.

That’s why I’ve had a problem lately with the hype the media has given to these Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump polls showing the two candidates are essentially neck and neck.

First, head-to-head polls in May are completely and totally worthless – and don’t even get me started on the people who’ve been referencing them for weeks or months.

If you don’t believe me, just ask highly respected polling expert Nate Silver who went off on a rant recently concerning those trying to make a big deal out of these polls this far away from the general election.

Before going forward, let me show you a couple of tweets Daily Beast reporter Gideon Resnick sent out the other day:

And that’s not even the whole story.

If you look at 2008, Obama did worse in May while Clinton was still in the race. While he had basically locked up the nomination at that point, like Bernie Sanders is doing now, Clinton stayed in until the end. This did seem to have a negative impact on Obama’s numbers during the last month of the primary as her supporters clung to their last bit of hope that she might emerge victorious.

Even looking at 2012’s numbers, when President Obama didn’t have a challenger, there were several polls that showed Mitt Romney beating him. This was also around the same time when the party began recognizing that Romney was going to ultimately be the party’s nominee and they began rallying around him, which almost always leads to a “bump” in the polls. That’s essentially what’s happening right now with Trump.

Furthermore, while Clinton has essentially clinched the Democratic nomination already, there’s still a sizable chunk of Sanders supporters who truly and honestly believe he can still win. So the fact that the Democratic primary isn’t officially over is negatively impacting her numbers. I know there are many pro-Sanders people who’ve professed that they’ll never support her, but once the primary officially ends, expect her to also see a “bump” in the polls as the party begins coalescing around her.

I know, I know, “It’ll never happen – she’s the devil! $hillary will never be president!” Those of you who are thinking that are absolutely right – silly me.

But you’ll rarely see any of this mentioned in the mainstream media because it’s their job to create “drama,” even when there’s not any. By pushing these polls, it gives these networks hours upon hours of political fodder to fill the airwaves with concerning polls that don’t matter one bit. Though that can’t just say that because that’s “bad for business.” It’s much better for them to hype these head-to-head polls they know don’t mean anything as a “legitimate story” because “it’s better for business” if the Clinton vs. Trump race is as dramatic as possible.

The truth is (and they know it, too), in May, just as we see in the numbers from 2008 and 2012, these head-to-head polls are meaningless.

Or as Nate Silver said about those trying to turn these head-to-head polls into a credible “news” story: “For f*ck’s sake, America. You’re going to make me go on a rant about general election polls — in May?”

I think that perfectly sums up this whole situation.

As for me, I’ll start caring about head-to-head polling around mid to late July when they actually begin to matter.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


Facebook comments