Hold The Polls: Lower Black Turnout Makes Them Wrong

By Dick Morris on November 3, 2016

Pollsters are excellent at figuring out how people will vote but do a poor job of judging whether or not they will vote. The best they can do is ask how likely a person is to vote. Since most of the marginal voters don’t really know themselves what mood will strike them next Tuesday, their answers are not always a fair indicator of the truth.

So pollsters weight the results demographically to adjust for sampling error. That means they each assume a certain level of African-American turnout. But they can be wrong and the current indications from early voting in Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina indicate that they may be in error.

Since blacks cast 13% of the vote in 2008 and 2012, it would be logical to assume that they will replicate their turnout in 2016. Or so the models of most polling firms assume. But, before Obama was on the ballot, African-Americans cast only an average of 11% of the vote in 2000 and 2004. So when pollsters weight the black vote at 13%, they are likely overstating Hillary’s vote by at least two points nationally. And, in swing states with high concentrations of minority voters — like North Carolina and Virginia — the results are likely to be even more skewed.

Analysis of early voting in all states indicates a big drop in black participation in this election. In Florida, for example, blacks cast 25 percent of the early ballots cast in 2012 but, so far, account for only 15% of the votes this year — a cut of 40 percent, according to the New York Times.

In Florida, if black turnout is down by anything like the 40 percent, it would throw statewide polls off by at least five points, transforming a one point Trump lead in current polls into a six point laugher.

One big fallout of the email scandal is that it has so preoccupied the country that President Obama has not been able to hit the campaign trail for Hillary as hard as he might. Michelle has been out there, but she’s no substitute.

Hillary is not giving her voters any reason to turn out. Her closing campaign is wall-to-wall negative and she offers no alternative uplifting vision for the nation. Why are her voters to decide to get out of bed on Tuesday morning and vote?

The Democrats are relying on their vaunted “ground game” to produce a turnout, but the effectiveness of their phone calls, rallies, and visits are likely overstated. While they produced a huge minority turnout for Obama in his elections, it was likely voter enthusiasm rather than Democratic mechanics that generated the vote. And, this year, the enthusiasm just isn’t there.

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