According to the latest polls, Hillary Clinton holds the lead over Donald Trump.
But do they tell the complete story?
Some pollsters are worried they could be missing voters, and it could have major consequences for the election.
Donald Trump claims he has activated millions of voters who either never voted before, or returned to the process by virtue of their attraction to his candidacy after years of seeing professional politicians let them down.
He repeatedly made that case during the primary.
RealClearPolitics posted the transcript of an answer Trump gave during a March interview with MSNBC’s Morning Joe:
DONALD TRUMP: “The number going into the Republican Party is an even bigger number than those who went for Obama into the Democrats. So this is a huge story and it’s really the big story. They focus on Romney — who is just trying to stay relevant.
But the biggest story out there by the people who really understand it is that the Republican Party is gaining millions and millions of people. And you saw that with South Carolina and Nevada… The places were packed… Millions of people have joined, but the establishment wants to throw that right out the window, becuase if I get out, all those people are coming with me…”
Now some pollsters are questioning if they are leaving Trump’s voters out of their surveys.
The Hill reports:
Democratic and Republican pollsters alike are determined to get their predictions for the 2016 elections right in the wake of a series of high-profile missed calls.
Partisan claims of skewed results have also escalated, with Trump and his unconventional claim asserting that polls aren’t capturing the Republican presidential nominee’s true support.
Trump claims his campaign will turn out millions of new or irregular voters in November, some of whom will be voting for the first time.
Some pollsters acknowledge the race presents some new challenges.
“We know some people who are traditionally seen as unlikely voters are going to vote,” said Nick Gourevitch, a partner at Global Strategy Group, which polls for Democratic candidates. “You need to take those people into account, and if you just lop those people off, you’re going to miss something.”
Pollsters typically ask questions to screen out voters who are unlikely to vote and would only waste the time of the live operators who conduct the polls.
Polling is expensive, and companies must efficiently conduct their surveys while maintaining their integrity by honestly modeling the electorate.
However, most pollsters and pundits do not believe there is a massive amount of irregular voters who the surveys are leaving out.
The Hill also reports:
But pollsters — left, right and nonpartisan — say it is unlikely that a wellspring of overlooked voters will show up in November, for several reasons.
First, interest in the 2016 presidential campaign is at a record high. A Pew Research Center survey conducted in July showed 80 percent of registered voters have thought about the election quite a lot, a level higher than Pew has ever recorded. That suggests the vast majority of voters, even those who rarely cast votes, are making it through screens designed to weed out unlikely voters.
Second, volumes of political science research suggests that voters who tell a pollster they are unlikely to vote are telling the truth. If they don’t plan to show up on Election Day, they almost certainly won’t.
While polls can be wrong, they are not skewed or intentionally leaving out voters to favor one candidate or the other.
The race is close enough to allow Trump to still pull out a victory.
But if he does win, the polls will reflect that fact and not cover it up.