Election 2020

Are Pollsters and Prognosticators 'Experts' Anymore When They Get So Much Wrong?

Rep-elect Tony Gonzales (Texas). Image from Twitter.

Back in 2019, Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas) announced he was retiring after a couple of terms in the House. His vast border district, the 23rd, stretches from the edges of San Antonio all the way out to the edge of El Paso. It has been the very definition of a swing district for a while, changing hands between Democrat Ciro Rodriguez and Republican Quico Canseco a couple of times.

Hurd’s announcement prompted the experts at the Cook Political Report to opine:

Hurd is probably the only Republican capable of holding Texas’s massive 23rd District, which stretches from the San Antonio suburbs to El Paso and takes in more of the Mexico border than any other district. A former CIA operative, Hurd developed a reputation as an indefatigable retail campaigner who isn’t afraid to shred President Trump, particularly on Russia and the proposed border wall.

Hurd’s work ethic and willingness to break from the GOP have been the keys to his three victories in a 69 percent Hispanic district Hillary Clinton carried by three points. Even so, Hurd won all three of his races by two points or less. In 2018, Hurd defeated Iraq War veteran and fellow intelligence officer Gina Ortiz Jones by just 926 votes, while GOP Sen. Ted Cruz lost the district by five points.

Cook probably never once spoke to Texans who live in the 23rd. Perhaps Hurd’s willingness to “shred” Trump over the Russia nonsense — and that’s what it was the entire time — wasn’t the boon that the experts believed. In a border district, emphasizing border security just might be an asset, not a liability. No communities are more affected by the border than those that are actually on it, more than a thousand miles from the offices the “experts” inhabit. And it just might be the case that a candidate who consistently rips his own party’s standard-bearer using the other side’s talking points becomes less trusted by that party’s base over time. Shocking, right?

The mention of Cruz is telling, in that light. Recall that the senator was the last hold-out against Trump in the 2016 GOP presidential primary. In 2018 Cruz hadn’t quite recovered, and he faced the media-created Beto phenomenon.

Republican Tony Gonzales, a veteran, won the primary and took on the Democrats’ nominee, Gina Ortiz Jones. In a district Hurd won in squeakers, Gonzales won easily, 51-47. He’s spent the past few days in House orientation up in D.C.

The “experts” said Trump Republicans would alienate Hispanics, not elect them to Congress.

Gonzales also not only didn’t rip Trump, he ran as a Trump supporter. His defeat was just one of many the “experts” expected Republicans to endure in what they predicted would be a really bad, no good year for the GOP.  The so-called “Texodus” was supposed to weaken the Republicans’ grip on the Lone Star State’s congressional delegation.

All told, there were 27 races the experts considered toss-ups across the country this year. The Daily Wire reports that Republicans won all 27 of those toss-ups.

Ahead of the 2020 election, Cook listed 27 races as “toss-ups,” meaning they were too close to predict one way or the other. Republicans won all 27.

That’s not a typo. Despite being assured by that conservatism was about to drown beneath an impending “blue wave,” Republicans won every single close race.

Republicans also won all 26 races deemed “leaning or likely Republican,” and even picked up 7 of the 36 seats listed as “leaning or likely Democrat.”

I’m no “expert,” but I don’t believe this has ever happened before. Anyone who predicted either party would go 27-for-27 in toss-ups should head to Vegas.

Cook again:

A much larger concern for Republicans is the prospect of a larger exodus in the aftermath of losing the majority. In the last few months, Reps. Rob Woodall (GA-07), Susan Brooks (IN-05) and Pete Olson (TX-22) have retired from seats that are prime Democratic pickup opportunities. Republicans need to pick up at least 19 seats for a majority, but losses would make that gain much harder to achieve.

Republicans won two out of those three races. Texas-22 went to the local sheriff, over a Bush cousin the “experts” probably thought would win the GOP primary in a walk. He didn’t make it to the runoff. Rep.-elect Troy Nehls beat the Democrat by seven points.

Republicans won several others they weren’t supposed to win according to the experts, narrowing the Democrats’ majority in the House considerably.

So much for experts, at least until the next election in a couple of years. We can all be assured they’ll be back with their polls, which all oversample Democrats as they do year after year, and all ignore the effect that the credible threat of politically-motivated violence by leftists against everyone else has on polling and on local races. They won’t poll the effects of rising crime, of the threat of overseas war Biden (if he prevails) is sure to bring back to the fore, economic uncertainty thanks to leftist anti-energy and other policies, or anything else that real people really care about. The “experts” have little time for your petty concerns, peasant.

All of this also ought to make one wonder, in an election in which Republicans did so well and defied the “experts” at every level, what really happened at the top of the ticket? The “experts” who got so much wrong are the last people anyone should be listening to.

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