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The Opinion Pages | Campaign Stops

The Election Polls That Matter


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With just days left in the 2016 presidential election, Americans are wondering if polling is accurate or if we’ll see a Brexit-style shock.

It’s not just voters who ask these types of questions. On the eve of Election Day in 2012, as the campaign manager for President Obama’s re-election, I was asked to meet him at a rally in Milwaukee.

“Gallup has me down by three points, and other polls have me trailing, tied or with a slight lead,” the president said. “Your models have this race basically over. Why are we right and they are wrong?”

The best campaigns don’t bother with national polls — I’ve come to hate public polling, period. In the 2012 race we focused on a “golden report,” which included 62,000 simulations to determine Mr. Obama’s chances of winning battleground states. It included state tracking polls and nightly calls from volunteers, but no national tracking polls.

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