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Friday, November 04, 2016

Election polling in disarray with wild disparities among top firms

At this time four years ago when President Obama was running for re-election, there were no polling outliers.

Run down the list of 15 top pollsters, and their results in late October 2012 on Real Clear Politics. No matter the firm, the national numbers were within a few points of one another. Mr. Obama was up 1 or 2 points, or Mitt Romney was tied or up a point.

What a difference four years, and perhaps Republican Donald Trump, make. National polls are anything but uniform. Perhaps this disparity was signaled in 2014, when pollsters badly missed in a number of key races by undercounting Republican voters.

Four respected firms — Gravis Marketing, Rasmussen, USC Dornsife/LA Times and IBD/TIPP — for weeks have put the contest either at a statistical dead heat or up or down a point or two.

Then The Associated Press came out with a wow poll Thursday showing Mrs. Clinton up by a whopping 14 points.

“Hillary Clinton appears on the cusp of a potentially commanding victory over Donald Trump, fueled by solid Democratic turnout in early voting, massive operational advantages and increasing enthusiasm among her supporters,” AP said.

Pollsters have taken note of the large disparity this time.

“This is an unusual election in a lot of ways,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director at Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “Both candidates are disliked by more than half of the voters. In this kind of environment, anything seems potentially possible. That doesn’t even count the difference in methodology from other polls.”

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