Party leaders downplay polls in final run to Election Day

Weighing The Accuracy Of Presidential Polling
Published: Oct. 16, 2020 at 7:19 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - A new Roanoke College poll shows former Vice President Joe Biden with a double-digit lead over President Donald Trump here in Virginia.

But with less than three weeks until Election Day, party leaders are downplaying the results.

The Reconnect Research/Roanoke College Poll shows former Vice President Biden with a 15-point lead over President Trump. That’s consistent with an earlier poll in August.

Poll Director Harry Wilson says it’s a snapshot of the race at a moment in time.

“Is it perfect? No,” Wilson told WDBJ7. “Can I sit here and tell you this is exactly how it’s going to be in three weeks? I am not pretending for a second to do that.”

Wilson says he’s not a prognosticator, predicting the results of the November 3rd election.

And party leaders in Virginia agree it would be foolish to act as if those results are definitive.

“You know, I think it’s hard to get a 15-point lead here in Virginia,” said Democratic former Governor Terry McAuliffe. “I do think we’re anywhere from 9 to 12 up consistently where we are. But I remind everybody that you can’t take anything for granted. 2016 is still seared in people’s minds.”

Rich Anderson, Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, questions the accuracy of the latest polling.

“Whether it’s a poll that’s favorable for Republicans or a poll that’s favorable for Democrats, I’m just very wary of what I see,” Anderson said. “I’ve just seen enthusiasm off the charts. The word I’ve been using, and some people guffaw at this, is stratospheric.”

Wilson said the Roanoke College poll was accurate in 2016, predicting Hillary Clinton’s victory in Virginia.

'We’re always trying to anticipate what turnout is going to look like in the election," Wilson said. “And all of our statistical weighting, all of our modeling is based on that. And that can, in fact, be inaccurate, because no one knows what the turnout is going to be like in three weeks.”

A week from Friday, Roanoke College will go into the field with its final poll of the presidential campaign.

Wilson says he won’t be surprised if the margin has narrowed.

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