Half a dozen news outlets skipped posting snap polls after the second 2016 presidential debate on Sunday — most likely because Donald Trump touted his dominance of their polls after the first debate in September.
The first presidential debate was a tough one for Republican presidential candidate Trump, but he publicly declared victory by citing a slew of unscientific online polls where respondents said he beat his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. The Daily Mail rounded up the results of many of these snap polls, as well, with a headline blaring “Trump won debate by a landslide.”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 27, 2016
Establishment pundits reacted to the phenomenon with obvious jokes, as they have for a long time — as though they have some deep insight into the race by understanding that online polls are not scientific.
CNN Poll: Clinton overwhelmingly wins debate 57 -34. Scientific poll, not fake Trumpian online poll. #debate
— Mike Signorile (@MSignorile) October 10, 2016
EVERYBODY THE ONLINE SNAP WHO WON THINGS DON’T COUNT.
If you don’t care who is in the poll or how many times they vote it’s not a poll.
— David Byler (@davidbylerRCP) October 10, 2016
Everyone knows online polls don’t reflect the electorate. But what they do reflect is the dedication and enthusiasm of a candidates’ online supporters. Both candidates’ fans have access to the same tools to game the polls — trolls, bots, etc. Pro-Clinton Super PAC Correct the Record has reportedly spent seven figures on online warfare. Yet Trump fans are still overwhelming the left in this facet of psy-ops, producing screenshot after screenshot of “polls” showing The Donald ahead.
Clinton backers know logically that this phenomenon does not necessarily affect the offline electorate, yet they still feel the need to debunk the meme — which wastes their time and energy while making them look bitter and defensive.
It makes sense, then, that most national conservative sites and local news sites did another round of online snap polls, but at least a half dozen left-leaning national outlets skipped them after the second debate.