Metaphorically speaking, of course, but in 2010, 2012, 2014, 2015, and now 2016 the pollsters have steered political press coverage. And in each of those years, the pollsters have seriously screwed up and gotten things wrong.
Again today in Iowa, networks poured in resources based on polls and newspapers set coverage based on polls. Ted Cruz smashed the record for votes in an Iowa Caucus, beating the 2008 Mike Huckabee win, with a traditional ground game. But the polling missed it. The polling missed it big time.
Establishment Republicans as well fed a narrative to the media that was wrong. Turnout was over 180,000, and pundits all said that would mean Donald Trump would win. He did not.
Time and time again, the talking heads got it wrong.
The pollsters screwed up royally. We should remember this moving forward.
And here’s the thing — if you spent any time on the ground in Iowa, you’d have known Ted Cruz was going to win. I’d been saying for more than week that Cruz was going to win and Rubio could potentially come in second. Why? I went to Iowa, drove around, and talked to people. I did not rely on polls.
It was clear Cruz had the best ground operation in Iowa. It was clear the crowds continued to grow at Rubio rallies. It was clear that Trump had no ground game operation of significance in Iowa. Everywhere I went I heard the same story. The campaigns of the various candidates would meet Trump voters, they would meet each other on the campaign trail, but they would never see Trump volunteers and paid staff. The Trump organization in Iowa was the jackalope of American politics, but you had to go see for yourself and not rely on polling.