Over the weekend, Fox News published the results of its latest poll. According to Fox, all the hearings and debates in Congress haven’t moved the electorate’s views on impeachment, while approval of the president’s job performance has increased three points.
Currently, Fox News reports, “45 percent of voters approve of the job Trump’s doing, up from 42 percent in late October. Over half, 53 percent, disapprove. That lands the president almost exactly where he started the year, as 43 percent approved and 54 percent disapproved in January.”
Furthermore, 50 percent supposedly favor impeachment and removal. 41 percent are opposed, and 4 percent don’t have an opinion on the matter.
These numbers are not exactly positive for the president, especially considering that they’re collected by Fox News. And so, Trump has responded by lashing out at those conducting the poll:
The @foxnewPolls, always inaccurate, are heavily weighted toward Dems. So ridiculous – same thing happened in 2016. They got it all wrong. Get a new pollster!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 15, 2019
“The Fox News Polls, always inaccurate, are heavily weighted toward Dems,” Trump writes on Twitter. “So ridiculous — same thing happened in 2016. They got it all wrong. Get a new pollster!”
To a degree, Trump is correct. Fox News’ final poll had Hillary Clinton up by four points. She eventually won the popular vote — but lost the electoral vote! — by 2 percent. If Fox had been correct, Trump wouldn’t have had a chance. As we all know, he actually ended up winning quite handily with 304 Electoral College votes.
Having said that, the margin of error of Fox News’ last poll was 2.5 percent. In other words, both Trump’s and Clinton’s results were within the margin of error.
And that’s exactly why we can’t take polls all too seriously. The margin of error means they’re always in the vicinity of being correct, while the picture they paint is completely — and I do mean completely — wrong. The poll had Trump at 44 percent. He ended up with 46 percent. The margin of error was 2.5 percent, so Fox News could defend the poll by arguing that it was all within the margin of error. But: if the results had been somewhat accurate, Clinton would’ve pulverized Trump. It wouldn’t even have been close. She would have won in an electoral landslide.
So, to fact-check Trump: he’s right and wrong, but mostly right.