It’s been a bad week for Connecticut’s Quinnipiac University Polling Institute and it got worse Thursday night when President Donald Trump cited its polls by name as he railed against what he called “knowingly wrong” polls.
“The day before the election, Quinnipiac, which was wrong on every occasion that I know of, had Joe Biden up by 5 points in Florida and they were off by 8.4 points and I won Florida easily,” Trump said during a press conference from the White House briefing room. “They had my losing Florida by a lot and I ended up winning Florida by a lot. Other than that, they were very accurate.”
Trump’s comments came as he railed against the ongoing vote-counting process in his reelection bid against former Vice President Joseph Biden. As of Thursday night, the race had still yet to be called and votes continued to be counted in key swing states.
But the president was also seeking to malign public opinion polls, which, as they had in 2016, underestimated levels of support for him and other Republican candidates in House and Senate races. Ahead of Tuesday’s election, Quinnipiac polls had Biden leading Trump by 4% in Ohio and 5% in Florida. Trump easily won both states.
Trump isn’t the only Republican candidate to out-perform his Q-poll this year. On Sept. 16, Quinnipiac had Maine Sen. Susan Collins trailing her opponent by 12 points and she won a clear victory Tuesday. On Sept. 30, the polling institute had South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham in a dead heat with Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison. Graham won by more than 10 points, according to the Associated Press.
It’s worth noting that both Senate polls were more than a month old before the election and Quinnipiac was far from alone in forecasting a stronger night for Democrats. Within the last week, a Morning Consult poll had Graham leading his race but only within the margin of error.
According to Trump, the polls weren’t just wrong this year, they were “knowingly wrong” and an effort to suppress Republican votes.
“These really phony polls, I have to call them phony polls, fake polls were designed to keep our voters at home, create the illusion of momentum for Mr. Biden and diminish Republicans’ ability to raise funds. They were what’s called suppression polls, everyone knows that now. It’s never been used to the extent it was used this last election.”
Quinnipiac University Poll Director Doug Schwartz said the poll “has been a highly-trusted source of opinion surveys with a stellar track record.
“We stand behind our methodology and the polling industry provides valuable insights into changing political opinions over time,” Schwartz added. “We learn with each election cycle and our experts will examine our polling methods and make any necessary adjustments in future years.”
In a statement earlier Thursday, Schwartz said it will be some time before pollsters can determine what went wrong this year.
“A full examination of what went wrong with polls this year is going to take a while. At the moment, I still need to see the final election results and final exit poll results, and without those I’m not able to make even preliminary hypotheses about what exactly the issues are,” he said.
Schwartz said the American Association of Public Opinion Research took six months to release findings on polling errors in the 2016 election.
“I would expect a full evaluation of 2020 to take at least as long, though we might have some idea of the situation before then,” he said.
In the past, Schwartz has stressed that polls do not predict final results but instead provide “a snapshot of public opinion” at the time they are taken.