FiveThirtyEight founder and Editor-in-Chief Nate Silver didn’t hold back when defending himself from critics who have slammed the polling industry for botching back-to-back presidential elections.
FiveThirtyEight had predicted Democratic nominee Joe Biden to easily beat President Trump, but the race ended up being much closer across individual states than pollsters had anticipated. FiveThirtyEight’s final forecast gave Trump a 1-in-10 chance of winning reelection. Critics have widely condemned the polling industry, but Silver dismissed disapproval.
“If they’re coming after FiveThirtyEight, then the answer is, f–k you, we did a good job,” Silver said on FiveThirtyEight Political podcast.
“We are here to provide guidance on how accurate the polls might or might not be, and the whole premise of why Joe Biden could withstand a 2016-style polling error or a bit larger,” Silver said.
In 2016, FiveThirtyEight gave Hillary Clinton a 70% chance of defeating Trump, which obviously didn’t happen. Four years later, pollsters have continued to struggle to understand Trump supporters.
A particular poll that has been slammed by critics is an ABC News-Washington Post poll showed Biden ahead of Trump by 17 points in Wisconsin as recently as Oct. 25 – but the state finished with an extremely narrow victory for the former vice president. President Trump has even claimed that the misleading poll was intended to suppress his support.
Pollster and political consultant Frank Luntz told “Bill Hemmer Reports” on Thursday that his industry has “never been as wrong as it was” in the 2020 election.
“The Washington Post got Wisconsin wrong by 16 points,” Luntz told host Hemmer. “CNN, your competitive network, declared last weekend that Joe Biden was going to win by 12 points. It looks like he’ll get about a 3.5% advantage over Donald Trump when all of the votes are counted.”
“They should’ve known better because they got it wrong four years ago,” Luntz said.
On Oct. 22, with post polls indicating a comfortable victory for Biden, Luntz tweeted: “If pollsters get it wrong again, then the polling industry is done. You can get it wrong once. But if they get it wrong a second time and Trump does win, it’s going to be the end of public polling in politics.”