PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — For the last 18 months, political pollsters said Donald Trump never had a chance, but he proved them all wrong.
He beat a dozen Republican challengers in almost all of the state primaries to earn the nomination. Trump was also a big underdog in the presidential race, but he defeated Hillary Clinton on Tuesday.
So how did the pollsters get it so wrong? Political editor Jon Delano took a look.
In the run-up to the Nov. 8 election, hardly a day went by without at least one poll, sometimes several, showing Hillary Clinton ahead of Donald Trump. As it turned out, pollsters picked the loser.
“I don’t think it’s anything nefarious, they just got it wrong,” Democratic political strategist Mike Mikus said.
He says Pennsylvania pollsters used a bad sample.
“It’s clear that they did not have the proper sample size to reflect what the turnout would be,” he said. “For instance, here in Pennsylvania, we saw a large turnout in Philly and Pittsburgh. I think they may have underestimated the turnout in some of the outlying counties like Beaver County, Fayette County, Westmoreland County, counties like that.”
But Republican political strategist Mike DeVanney says the polls were generally right — it was the media that failed to report polls accurately with margins of error.
“Forty-four to 41 with a margin of error of plus or minus four,” he said. “Math was never my best thing, but I got to tell you, that’s an even race, and that could go any way.”
So while the public might see a poll with Clinton ahead — with margin of error, it could have been tied or Trump in the lead.
“To me, it was the press trying to tell the story that they wanted to tell,” DeVanney said.
He says many in the media just refused to believe Trump could win the presidency.
“It was their idea that a Trump candidacy actually winning… they just couldn’t fathom that, so they believed these polls,” he said, “and in a way, I think they gave more energy to the fact that Hillary was winning when there wasn’t a lot of evidence there.”
And adding to the fact that everyone got this election wrong, says Mikus, was the failure to understand the anger of voters.
“There is a lot of anger out there in America right now, and I think media underestimated the extent,” he said.
Bottom line — there’s lots of blame to spread around.