Legacy media journalists attacked polls favoring Republicans in key swing states, accusing them of pushing a false narrative of a Republican wave.
Journalists lit up Twitter on Monday evening after The New York Times and Siena College released a spate of polls showing Democrats in the lead in four hotly-contested Senate races. The journalists seized on the polls in an effort to debunk a “narrative” that Republicans’ lead in recent generic ballot polling would help carry Republicans in Arizona, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Georgia across the finish line.
The polls, conducted by NYT/Siena, found that Democrats led in Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Georgia. In Arizona, incumbent Democrat Mark Kelly held a six-point lead over Republican Blake Masters, 51%-45%; in Georgia, incumbent Democrat Raphael Warnock held a three-point lead over Republican challenger Herschel Walker, 49%-46%; in Pennsylvania, Democrat John Fetterman led Republican Dr. Mehmet Oz by five points, 49%-44%. The Senate race in Nevada between incumbent Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto and Republican challenger Adam Laxalt was tied at 47%.
Washington Post opinion columnist Greg Sargent was the first to comment on the polls. “These polls should shake up The Narrative,” Sargent wrote on Twitter.
“After a flood of GOP outlier polls in all of these races designed to create stories about an impending red wave and digging into why Dems are losing (‘is it crime/inflation?’), NYT/Siena suggests not much has changed in these races in the past two weeks,” wrote Tom Bonier, CEO of the data analytics firm TargetSmart and a panelist on MSNBC.
Several legacy journalists and Democrats amplified Bonier’s argument.
“Important thread,” Politico investigative reporter Heidi Przybyla commented on Bonier’s thread. “Many partisan ‘outlier’ polls funded by GOP are driving the narrative. Nonpartisan polls find these races are very close.”
“These encouraging Senate polls confirm that the red wave narrative was bull***, again,” Democratic activist Simon Rosenberg commented. “It’s a close, competitive election and the Senate is leaning Dem.”
“[L]ast weeks polls from outlets you’ve never heard about may be nonsense designed to change press narrative,” election lawyer and university lecturer Neil Makhija wrote.
But these polls may not be the smoking gun to debunk projections of a Republican wave. Despite the claims from journalists, the New York Times/Siena College poll consistently overstated Democratic support in battleground states by significant margins in 2020.
In Arizona, The New York Times and Siena College projected a seven-point win for Kelly; he beat Republican Martha McSally by less than 2.4 points, a 4.5-point miss. The NYT/Siena poll missed by about two points in both of Georgia’s contested Senate races. In Nevada, NYT/Siena predicted Joe Biden would beat Donald Trump by six points; Biden won by 2.7 points, a 3.3-point miss. In Pennsylvania, NYT/Siena predicted Biden would beat Trump by six; Biden won by just 1.2 points, a nearly five-point miss.
The comments prompted several independent pollsters to fire back, pointing out that NYT uses an unreliable method for collecting responses, and slamming the journalists for pushing a narrative of their own.
“New ‘outrage’ coverage: GOP aligned pollsters flooding the zone and tipping the RCP average towards the GOP,” Public Opinion Strategies partner Bill McInturff wrote. “Do you think EVERY Dem candidate and group stopped polling? Not releasing bc it’s all grim. If they had a counter story, they would release their own data. Not complicated.”
“Live caller is more expensive… and that’s about it,” Big Data Poll director Richard Baris said of the poll’s methodology. “Because it sure as Hell isn’t more accurate. Not anymore, as the NYT/Siena Poll has shown over and over… and over. Live caller interviews had the highest error for us in the last two cycles.”
“Apparently the NYT/Siena still has live callers asking respondents highly personal political questions? In 2022?” Rasmussen Reports mocked. “We’ve always avoided that like the plague. We believe PRIVACY is a key advantage to respondent CANDOR and survey ACCURACY.”