Jim Lee, a pollster with Susquehanna Polling and Research, told the WFMZ “Business Matters” panel last week why he believes the preponderance of “garbage polls” being released ahead of the election are an attempt at voter suppression.
LEE: I am. Polls that come out days before an election that are egregiously off —
LANNELLI: Do they affect the vote?
LEE: We’ll never know the answer to that, because clearly in 2016 voters weren’t looking too much at the polls. When a poll comes out with one candidate, in this case Hillary Clinton, winning by 11 points when the winner of the race is the other candidate, that is not an outlier, that is bad polling and makes our entire industry look bad. I called on the American Associated of Public Opinion Research to crackdown on egregious polling to tighten standards for firms that clearly don’t understand the landscape of Pennsylvania and that guys like Chris and I trying to do quality work, Chris’ last poll in 2016 was in the margin of error. Ours showed the race a statistical tie. When others had the race at 11 points. Do you think that’s voter suppression? I’m sticking up for the industry, we need to crackdown, someone needs to say this is out of control. Just look at those RealClear averages.
LANNELLI: Chris, I never sense you have an agenda. is that hard to do, by the way? You have to be very neutral to make the numbers clear and accurate.
BORICK: I always say to people attacked from the left to the right. I’ll put a number out. You will see on election day how it performs. Historically, we have a slight Republican lean in our results, not because I’m Republican or Democrat, but how we polled. You have to be transparent and show how you do it, how you proceed, people will attack you for almost anything they want.
LANNELLI: A lot of the pro trump crowd is saying, don’t forget there are 6 to 7 — 10 points in there, we’ve got this thing. There is some nervousness, obviously. That’s not there?
BORICK: If i was a supporter of the president and banking on — they could move closer like they did in 2016. You get averages or couple of points.
LANNELLI: Are you surprised how much points can move in a day or two in an election?
BORICK: Not really if there is big movement. They have not moved as much as we might give them credit for this Fall. They have moved, but not always as much as we think.
LANNELLI: The numbers are the numbers. if you think there are 7-10 points in there, I think you are dreaming.
BORICK: I agree.
LEE: I disagree. The polls are not moving. We have the race in Pennsylvania two points in the September poll and other firms showing a margin of error that the race is tied, it’s been tied all along in our estimation.
LANNELLI: Do you think truly tied? Or five or six points that you hear about, people say are out there are for real? I hear it all the time. The Trumpers are not going to tell people.
LEE: The president is out there with the narrative that we shouldn’t do polling. Many people called him everything from a misogynist to a racist to everything in between. There are a lot of voters out there that don’t want to admit they are voting for a guy that has been called a racist, that submerged Trump factor is very real. We have been able to capture it and I’m really disappointed others have not. In 2016 in the summer and early fall showed Pennsylvania up for grabs. Other firms are putting out leads for Hillary Clinton in double digits, that was never the case in my opinion and we are seeing it happening now.
LANNELLI: What is a good poll for those not savvy in terms of your field. How do you make a good poll?
BORICK: There are a lot of factors. You have to have a decent sample size. It’s not everything. you can have a large sample that does a bad job.
LANNELLI: It’s quality not quantity.
BORICK: Exactly. You want to see how questions are worded. Always be transparent with your documents. Talk about your waiting, what you wait for, what you don’t wait for in the survey. Show that. Share your data. We will give the data to people. you want to see and feel these things.
LANNELLI: Is it all telephone?
BORICK: It’s very diverse in the field right now. we continue to do primarily telephone for election surveys, others have gone to online panels. Some are recruited via telephone and web, it’s a diversity of methods.
LANNELLI: What do you think is the best cross section for a legitimate poll?
BORICK: Any poll that tries to minimize and marginalize nonresponses by giving numerous options is going to provide the safeguards to reduce that margin of error and make it realistic. With any survey technique, there is bias in every technique. Certain people you don’t reach doing internet polling.
LANNELLI: I’ll go to Chris, where are we now?
LEE: I think it’s going to be a very close race. I don’t see this a blue wave. I don’t see Biden winning in the states Trump carried in 2016. We are seeing other firms showing it tighten when in my opinion it’s been tight all along. I think Pennsylvania clearly is a battle ground. I think the election is going to be decided by a very small electoral vote outcome.
LANNELLI: Who do you think wins?
LEE: I can’t call it. If the turn out is going to be what I think, Trump wins it.
BORICK: I think Pennsylvania is very competitive. It’s almost always competitive.
LANNELLI: It’s one of the keys.
BORICK: It’s why it’s getting so much attention. I do think Joe Biden has the lead in the state, probably in the mid-single digit numbers. I’m a big fan of looking at the aggregates. There are a lot of great pollsters showing the lead where it is. I think right now, it leans to Biden, but it’s a very competitive race.
LANNELLI: You are trying to be neutral. You think Biden wins the race?
BORICK: I don’t like to make predictions. I do think more conditions favor Joe Biden.