The polls got it wrong again.
Pollsters predicted a razor-close vote in Britain, but the Conservative Party ran away with the election Thursday. Leading up to Israel’s balloting in March, public opinion surveys showed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu trailing, but he achieved a strong victory. In America’s 2014 election, the polls didn’t detect the wave enabling Republicans to pick up nine seats to win a majority in the Senate. Now, the polls tell us Hillary Clinton is the favorite to be elected president next year.
“The world may have a polling problem,” the respected statistician and analyst Nate Silver wrote in his FiveThirtyEight blog. Silver has an outstanding record in accurately predicting American elections since 2008, but he, too, missed the big victory by Prime Minister David Cameron.
Silver cited a number of problems facing pollsters — including the decline in landline telephone contact with voters and the rise of some less reliable online polls — in asserting “there may be more difficult times ahead for the polling industry.”
Democrats are bragging about a New York Times/CBS poll showing that Americans view Clinton more favorably and more see her as a strong leader despite recent controversies — the disclosures of her use of a private email server rather than a government one and the millions of dollars in foreign donations to the Clinton Foundation while she was secretary of state.
The Times acknowledged its poll also revealed that 48 percent of registered voters did not consider her honest and trustworthy as opposed to 47 percent who did. Her rating was bolstered by 81 percent support among Democrats. Only 41 percent of independents saw her as honest and trustworthy.
That could be a ticking time bomb for Clinton’s presidential ambition.
Let’s remember we are still at the beginning of the campaign. So far Clinton has only one Democrat opponent, socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, and it likely will be a long time before the Republicans settle on a front-runner for their nomination.
To keep a serious challenger from entering the Democrats’ contest, Clinton is moving to the left. The other day she declared she would go further than President Barack Obama in using executive decrees to grant amnesty to millions more illegal immigrants. That puzzled the White House since it insists Obama has gone as far as legally possible to resolve the immigration issue, taking the kind of action that he had previously stated was prohibited by the Constitution. Already one federal judge has blocked Obama’s decision to grant work permits to several million people who are in the country illegally, or without documents, as is the politically correct term.
For anyone concerned about an imperial presidency — and people in both parties say so from time to time — it should be disturbing that the front-runner for president is openly declaring that she would rule the country by executive fiat if Congress won’t act as she thinks it should.
Immigration is a tough issue, one best resolved by a White House working with Congress to build the type of compromise acceptable to the largest number of citizens. Running a democratic republic is hard work. Issuing executive orders from the executive mansion is easier.
The Clinton record is growing — advocacy of an authoritarian presidency, avoiding questions from the news media, troubling issues of accountability and transparency from her time in the State Department, a threat to amend the Bill of Rights as a way to achieve “campaign finance reform.”
These issues and others to come may start showing up in the polls as the time draws closer for actual voting and the public starts paying closer attention. To that point, New Hampshire holds the nation’s first primary next year and it already is being visited regularly by candidates. A poll of its politically aware voters by Dartmouth’s Nelson A. Rockefeller Center found Republicans Scott Walker and Jeb Bush leading Clinton in hypothetical general election matchups.
Then again, the polls haven’t been so accurate lately.