A nationally-known political consultant and pollster who has done a lot of work in Alabama suggests that when it comes to today’s Senate election, we shouldn’t trust current projections too much.
“To be honest with you, I wouldn’t put a lot of faith in some of the polling I’ve seen over the last couple of weeks,” Jim McLaughlin told Yellowhammer in an interview.
McLaughlin knows Alabama. He has worked as a pollster for Sens. Richard Shelby, Jeff Sessions, and Luther Strange, and has also helped elect Reps. Robert Aderholt and Mike Rogers, Gov. Bob Riley, and Alabama’s Senate Pro Tempore Del Marsh.
He also knows polling. In short, there are three issues going on with the polls, McLaughlin says:
— “The problem is they’re doing these robo-polls, and those polls by law can’t call cellphones. More than half of these people don’t have landlines, so you’re missing a lot of people there.”
— The pollsters are using deficient samples: “They should be using good voter lists, and these hybrid polls with the internet stuff in there, they’re relying on panels, and these people may not necessarily be voters, and they’re claiming that they’re going to vote.”
— The pollsters aren’t choosing enough likely voters: “You want to screen really tightly, to make sure these people are actually going to show up.”
In any case, McLaughlin judges this election as an anomaly, challenging most of our preconceptions, particularly regarding what the turnout will be.
“I think turnout is going to be pretty high today, because it’s almost become a national election,” he said, comparing it to the Georgia Sixth District race back in June, which received major national attention and saw large turnout.
Whatever the outcome, McLaughlin expects it to be close, in part because he expects many voters to write in candidates. He made a half-joking prediction.
“I think Nick Saban is going to be the lead write-in candidate.”
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