Can Good Polls Depress Activism? Yes, They Can

You’ve no doubt seen some news about how the Democrats are looking really good in the polls (particularly for Senate races). But good news can bring danger.

To be honest, I LOVE hearing information like that. But here’s the thing. I’m not keen on sharing good polls widely. Why? Because it makes people complacent. If the polls look good, some people take their foot off the gas. For example, if you hear that a race moves from Toss Up to Lean Democratic, like a couple of Senate races have, you can feel a sigh of relief rise up in yourself and a thought bubble appears, “Ah, good. I don’t have to worry about that race as much.”

The last thing we need is a lot of people thinking that the midterms are in the bag. No! What we have is the wind at our backs. We have the opportunity to bring the wins home. But sitting on the couch at home isn’t going to get us the result we want.

Lest anyone has forgotten, looking good in the polls is NOT a guarantee of success.

By sharing good polling or ratings news, I worry that I might accidentally depress activism and therefore turnout. Instead, a good way to think about any race at any time is to act as though we’re behind in the polls. And then act accordingly. Keep your foot on the gas — as of today, we have less than 3 months to turn out as many votes as we can.

That said, if you’re a bit of an elections nerd (as I seem to have become in the past few years), here are my go-to resources to stay on top of race ratings and polls:

For race ratings: Cook Political Report and Sabato’s Crystal Ball

For polls: FiveThirtyEight (you can choose the type of race or polls for a particular state)

Thank you for taking action so we win in November!

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2 replies

  1. Agreed, we can’t afford to be complacent for even a minute.

  2. Personally I would question the source of any polls right now giving Democrats a big lead, for exactly the reason you mentioned: voter complacency. We know the GOP don’t want Democrat voters going to the polls in November, and they will do anything to get what they want. Spreading survey results giving Dems the lead in tight races could easily be a political tactic. They know the more voters who go to vote gives them less chance of winning, so it helps them to convince voters to stay home.

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