Now that the Senate elections are over (apart from the Louisiana runoff and Alaska), I have noticed that the actual results were very different than what the polls indicated. Polls showed the Republicans slightly ahead, giving the Democrats an outside chance of retaining the Senate.
Instead the Republicans enjoyed a landslide and won 7 Senate seats so far with two more to be determined. I predict that once the Alaska votes are counted and after the December runoff in Louisiana, Republicans will end up with a net gain of 9 seats.
For some reason or another, the polls underestimated Republican strength. This made the contest seemed close. What happened in the end was a Republican landslide. Let me run through the pertinent examples.
First Mitch McConnell was supposed to be having a serious challenger – Allison Grimes. Early polls showed her a few percentage points behind McConnell, the Senate minority leader. Just before election day, the polls showed McConnell ahead by 7%, In the end, McConnell won by nearly 16% or 9% more than what the polls predicted.
Then there was the contest in Kansas between Republican incumbent, Pat Roberts against Independent and suspected surrogate Democrat, Greg Orman. Just before election day, Orman was ahead by 0.8%. In the end, Roberts won by 10.8% ahead. So the polls were wrong by a whopping 10%!
In Iowa, another closely watched state, the polls showed Republican Joni Ernst had a narrow lead over Democrat Bruce Braley of about 2% before the elections. She won by a margin of nearly 9%.
The biggest surprise was Virginia. Republican candidate for the Senate, Ed Gillespie was written off. His Democratic opponent Mark Warner was ahead by nearly 10%, according to the polls. In the end, the election was a cliffhanger with Warner ahead by 0.8%, making it a polling error of 9%.
I could go on but I will stop here with the Virginia example. Had the polls been more accurate, both sides would have spent more money in Virginia. But then the Republicans would have spent less money elsewhere and this would have given them more money to spend on the real marginal states like Virginia.
I don’t know why the polls are so skewed in favor of Democrats. The margin of error was supposed to be 4%. But we are getting more than that in so many cases and usually in favor of Democrat candidates. Some suspect a deliberate bias in favor of Democrats, but I don’t buy that. I think the pollsters are just incompetent. I don’t know which is worse.