Trump Resurrects ‘Unskew The Polls’ Push As Surveys Show Him Trailing Biden

President Donald Trump speaks to the press as he departs the White House on May 21, 2020. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
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June 8, 2020 5:29 p.m.

It’s not just the news that’s fake and out to get President Trump — polling numbers cannot be trusted either, according to Trump, especially when they show him trailing presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden by a whopping 15 points.

Now, Trump is trying to do something about it, resurrecting the “unskew the polls” push that was popularized by some conservatives in 2012 to argue that Mitt Romney wasn’t really trailing then-President Obama. We all know how that turned out.

Trump announced on Twitter Monday that he had hired McLaughlin & Associates to look into recent polls that show him running behind Joe Biden five months before Election Day.

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“The latest skewed media polls must be intentional,” wrote Trump pollster John McLaughlin in a memo that contested a recent poll that shows 55 percent of registered voters support Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, while only 41 percent back Trump. McLaughlin accused pollsters from CNN of “under-polling Republicans” and discredited the results as “biased.”

Public policy professor Charles Franklin, director of the Marquette Law School poll in Milwaukee, told TPM that while it’s common for campaigns to “undermine the credibility of bad news,” it’s difficult to do so successfully when the polls agree on results — and those results are unfavorable.

“That leaves the campaign with the option of undermining the credibility of the polls or adopting more successful campaign strategies to win over more voters,” Franklin added.

The President has long taken issue with the polling industry, which did not forecast his eventual election victory in 2016. He is holding tight to that grudge today as his reelection prospects appear to dim following a series of recent mishaps.

There was, for example, the recent resignation of a top Pentagon policy adviser and the opposition of his own defense secretary to activating the military to quell nationwide anti-racism protests. To say nothing of ex-Bush administration officials who came out in strong numbers against Trump’s hostile treatment of protesters, some of whom have formed their own super PAC in opposition of the President. 

John and Jim McLaughlin occupy seats on Trump campaign’s 2020 polling team led by Tony Fabrizio. A memo penned by John McLaughlin, and tweeted by Trump, takes jabs at a recent NBC News and Wall Street Journal poll, which McLaughlin said “shorts” Republicans who turned up in bigger numbers than projected in 2016 —  as seen in exit polling data. But it’s not up to pollsters to correct for party breakdown ahead of a poll. 

As political polling ramps up as the calendar inches closer to November, expect Trump and his allies to scream “unskew” even louder if polls continue to show Biden with the edge.

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