Where Polling Fails: How Trump rallies show voter engagement better than traditional measures

There are several things that must be understood regarding polling in 2020 and dividing hopeful illusion with the reality of changing ways we have to measure engagement.  The concern that President Trump is down in the polls as of this writing is to point to a specific problem in measuring engagement which has changed.  Not to mention that many of the media companies have not been reporting their “over and unders” on sampling statistics out of their own desire to shape election results, the truth of the matter is that most of the polling is sampling potential voters by quantities of 1000 or less.  The math on such an approach then figures that among a roughly similar demographic base over a mass population that those numbers will hold up.  Facebook and other social media also measure in such a way engagement through like buttons and their own carefully worded surveys.  The results of those polling attempts of course are why they have been clamping down on Trump engagement on their sites and starting to ban those they consider “influence leaders.”  A huge example of this has been Bill Mitchell on Twitter—banned for life essentially for being so right about Trump.  Yet for all their attempts at shaping the message in this election, the Trump administration this time, even more so than last time in 2016 has found a better way to measure engagement than anybody has yet discovered, and that is with these mass rallies that he has especially this week in Florida and Pennsylvania.

Engagement is one of the most difficult things to measure in any business.  Everyone has their little tricks, especially in marketing.  Facebook has built their entire business model on their ability to predict engagement based on the data they collect.  Google collects massive amounts of data on all of us so that they can predict engagement to better target ads to specific interested parties.  Every company in the world is looking for some way to unlock engagement in their employees.  Many turn to “Lean” techniques to inspire engagement with top management and the paid hourly worker organizationally.  Engagement is the key to any success in life and everyone wants to predict it in some fashion or another so they can measure and act on it.  Back in the days when the media was a few city newspapers and three primary networks which controlled pretty much what people could see and hear, polling in the way we do now, with a phone call to a likely voter was a fairly accurate way to measure voter engagement.  And most of Washington D.C.’s lobby culture is still using those methods to predict results in elections and legislative movement.  But times have changed, and people have more choice than they’ve ever had before, and those methods are no longer valid.  The measure of voter engagement has had to change in order to more accurately predict outcomes of anything.  Which is why the Trump rallies were always the target in the election. 

I don’t want to derail a legitimate argument with a slowly revealed conspiracy theory that will in time become a known fact.  But as of the present, people have been made fearful of Covid-19 as an exception to the common cold through lots of media fear and false measurement designed to inflate the samplings, just as the media has done with the Trump/Biden poll numbers.  Such as getting hit by a car equals a Covid-19 death.  Or a question worded as such, “will you vote for Joe Biden—yes or no, rather than are you better off today than you were in 2016.”  Words matter and can skew the results of what you are measuring to the effect that the sample size can be thrown off if the statistical swing is only less than 1000 measured.  Of course, if measurements were in the 10,000s or 50,000s like a lot of people assume would be the case, any slight statistical mistakes in the question variations would be smoothed out.  Such as the mortality numbers at the beginning of Covid-19 that were well over 1% when testing was still in its infancy.  But with more testing of course the case size increased but the mortality decreased to almost nothing.  If the measurement was to show that people are getting Covid, testing helped make the case.  But it didn’t show that people died of it.  The same forms of testing apply to elections as well.  Its all in what you are measuring and whether or not its relevant to the circumstances. 

Which of course brings us to the Trump rallies.  I would argue that they are more accurate than polling statistics because they are showing up in much larger quantities than the average polling samples.  There are 5000 to 10,000 people at these things waiting all day to see the President give the same speech over and over again.  What that shows us is that all those people are not only likely voters but committed voters—each one of them representing a vote for Trump.  Then if you do a little math, those participants represent a percentage of likely voters who would have liked to have gone to the rally but had other things to do.  So, they watch online, or engage in some other way.  Perhaps we give that number a multiplier by 10.  Then there are the people who support the president already but aren’t willing to stand in such a long line.  That could have a multiplier of up to 50.  And these are regional so very quickly you can have a view of how 100,000 to perhaps a million people will vote by the indication of a rally size.  Then you can observe that the rally sizes are equal no matter where Trump has them, whether its California or Florida.  That says a lot about the strength of his candidacy that the normal polling isn’t picking up because the physical observation is a better measurement of engagement than the math sample of telephone polling that ran the culture since the invention of the telephone. 

The plan from the beginning for Democrats was to use Covid-19 to attack the economy and force Trump to hide like Biden was, and to stay away from these massive rallies—essentially to hide the public engagement with the President in hopes that the message could be controlled by the media.  But obviously that isn’t working.  Since Trump did come down with Covid-19 and was able to recover and show everyone that coronavirus was not a death sentence, it has blown the entire Democrat strategy completely out of the water and they have no answer.  For a guy who was supposed to be on death’s door a few weeks ago and out of the presidential race, having Trump dancing to the YMCA song in front of 15,000 people isn’t going to allow Joe Biden to win.  The polling has not captured all this and is therefor unreliable.  Democrats and their partners in media had hoped that by measuring only the aspects of the election they controlled, that they could shape the outcome.  But as we can see from the Trump rallies, which is a new measurement in political engagement which will stand for many years to come, the measurement was false and so will be the results.  Its not that people can point to the polls and declare that they are all conspiracy and be delusional about the outcome.  Rather, the Trump rallies are a more appropriate measure of engagement which can then point to real results in elections.  With that in mind, Trump is headed for a very successful win on November 3rd.  Take nothing for granted.  But mark it on your calendar. 

Cliffhanger the Overmanwarrior

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