The Lid: What to Make Of Those Post-Labor Day Polls

Welcome to The Lid, your afternoon dose of the 2016 ethos… Taylor Swift and Tom Hiddleston have reportedly broken off their whirlwind romance, meaning that even in this topsy-turvy and divisive political climate, there are still some things happening that we can all truthfully say we predicted perfectly.

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‘16 from 30,000:

We’ve turned the Labor Day corner and it’s time for… Horse Race 2: The Tightening! Here’s a reality check on what’s happening: Are some national and state polls getting closer? Yes - and/but it’s due to a combination of factors. First of all, the last round of post-convention polls came at a particularly bad moment for Trump (as he warred with the Khan family) and at a particularly good moment for Clinton (as she rode a post-convention bump.) Both numbers have stabilized. Yes, that may have to do with Trump’s more disciplined approach in the last few weeks, and it’s likely in part a reflection of Clinton’s tough few news cycles. But it’s also a result of those post-convention results coming back to earth.

Another thing to keep in mind about polls that have been in the field over the past couple of days: It’s really hard to poll during the late-August and Labor Day weekend vacations, when a lot of voters simply aren’t picking up the phone.

You should also get ready for some big polling fluctuations over the next few weeks. Here’s why: pollsters are going to start shifting from models polling registered voters to those polling *likely* voters. It’s a change in strategy when pollsters start trying to identify the folks who are actually going to show up at the polls, rather than the ones who have an opinion but still might stay home. Ultimately, good pollsters should be able to use those likely voter models to predict the election’s outcome fairly accurately, but as various outlets switch over their models, the topline numbers may seem all over the place, so read the fine print carefully.

And finally, the cardinal rule of polling applies here. Not all polls are created equal, so when in doubt: “Averages, averages, averages!”



“I believe I have created so many jobs in the sort of conspiracy theory machine factory because honestly they never quit.”

  • Hillary Clinton speaking with reporters aboard her plane on Tuesday.


Matt Lauer moderates a one-hour “Commander In Chief” forum with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in New York City.