Conservative shock jock Rush Limbaugh warned Trump supporters not to assume polls showing the GOP nominee losing were “rigged,” admitting that he thought the same in 2012 only to be proven wrong.
“I wish that I could sit here and tell you that I, without question, think the polls are rigged. I have thought so in previous elections,” Limbaugh said Monday on his radio show.
He admitted he was cautious about dismissing unfavorable polls because he mistakenly did the same thing in 2012, underestimating President Barack Obama’s support.
“In 2012, honest to God, folks, I thought Romney was gonna win by five or six. There weren’t any polls that said that. I thought they were all using an incorrect turnout sample,” Limbaugh said. “The way I was looking at it was the 2010 midterms in which the Republicans won landslides. It was the Tea Party. The Democrats lost 700 seats all told nationwide in the 2010 midterms. And I said, ‘You know what? They’re not using that turnout in the 2012 presidential polls.’ Turns out they never do.”
One problem with polling that factors in turnout is people sometimes lie about who they voted for in the previous election—nobody wants to admit to voting for a loser—and such discrepancies can bias polls. “If that’s the case this year,” the Los Angeles Times’ David Lauter wrote in August, “then weighting for the vote history would result in slightly too many Republican voters in the sample, which would probably boost Trump’s standing by a point or two.”
In the months leading up to the 2012 election, Rush told listeners that many mainstream polls had a bias towards Obama.
“They are designed to do exactly what I have warned you to be vigilant about, and that is to depress you and suppress your vote,” Limbaugh said in late September 2012 of a CBS/New York Times poll and a Washington Post poll. “These two polls today are designed to convince everybody this election is over.”
In 2016, though, he has been more cautious. Limbaugh said in August that “it’s a risk here to just throw the polls out and say they don’t matter because you end up creating a false reality for yourself that isn’t true.”