Trafalgar Group's Poll Was Right about Trump's 2016 Win. It Predicts He Will Do it Again in 2020
President Donald Trump speaks in the East Room of the White House, early Wednesday in Washington. (AP)
Cahaly's Trafalgar Group has predicted an easy win for Trump in this election, which is in stark contrast to predictions made by most reputable pollsters, who have claimed that Biden is likely to be the new President.
- Last Updated: November 04, 2020, 17:58 IST
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The only other person apart from Donald Trump, who has predicted Trump's win at the United States Presidential Election 2020 with an astonishing level of certainty, is Robert Cahaly, a pollster of the Trafalgar Group, a Georgia based market research firm that conducted pre-election polls in the US.
Cahaly's Trafalgar Group has predicted an easy win for Trump in this election, which is in stark contrast to predictions made by most reputable pollsters, who have claimed that Biden is likely to be the new President. Cahaly's methods of research, however, have already been vehemently criticized, with some calling it 'laughable' and 'statistically unsound.' It has also not helped that the Trafalgar group has not disclosed the data set for their surveys. However, despite misgivings that other pollsters and researchers might have about their work, their result predictions have been spot on during the last presidential race as well.
In 2016, Trafalgar Group's poll was the only poll that had predicted Trump as the winner. While it was an unpopular poll and often trivialized and criticism when the results were announced, Cahaly turned out to be the only pollster who was right. However, what is even more surprising is the accuracy with which his predictions matched the final results. In 2016, they had speculated that Trump would win the electoral college by 306 to 232 of Clinton, which actually did happen. Not just that, according to a report in Politico, Trafalgar Group had predicted that Trump would defeat Clinton in the states of Michigan, Pennslyvania, Wisconsin, Florida, and North Carolina, and these were indeed the states in which Trump was victorious.
For this year's election, the Trafalgar group has claimed that Trump would return for a second term and has predicted 275 for Trump while 216 for Biden with 47 toss-ups. The poll results are again in sharp contrast with other national polls, and the reason for that, Cahaly claims, is the shyness of Trump supporters, who cannot openly come out and support Trump for fear of being judged.
Cahaly told Politico that these shy voters are likely to make the difference again. “There’s a lot of hidden Trump votes out there,” he says. “Will Biden win the popular vote? Probably. I’m not even debating that. But I think Trump is likely to have an Electoral College victory.” he adds.
While Cahaly had been a regular of Fox News before, this year, due to his accurate prediction last time, he has also been on CNN News and the New York Times. Both the media outlets have, however, pointed out that there has been no clear explanation of the Trafalgar group's polling methodology. The methodology page on the firm's website uses a vague explanation. It says, "The company utilizes short questionnaires of nine questions or less based on their perceptions about attenuated attention spans and the need to 'accommodate modern busy lifestyles.' According to Cahaly, the firm’s polls last one to two minutes and are designed to quickly get opinions from those who would not typically participate in political polls."
During the CNN News interview as well, Cahaly was asked to explain his methodology, to which he replied, "They (other pollsters) think that just because our methodology is different, it is wrong. What we believe is that people are not honest with politics. We don't think that's wrong. We think that's the modern world. It is called the social desirability bias; it has been around for a while. It was also at play in 2016... and it was certainly at play in the governor's race at Florida last year, that's why they all got it wrong again."
"First and foremost, we give voters the right to anonymity. The more anonymous someone is, the more honest they are. So, the absolute worst way to poll these people is a live call, with a live person asking them who they support... now, if they get a call that's anonymous, they are more likely to get their feelings known," he added.
According to a media report, Cahaly was arrested in 2010 for violating the law against robocalling to conduct polls. However, the charges were dropped, and he even ended up 'successfully suing' a state law enforcement agency, which resulted in South Carolina dropping prohibition on robocalls.
While the Trafalgar group has been correct once, it is hard to say if their methods work or it was just a fluke. Trafalgar's predictions about Arizona had been wrong in both years (2016 and 2020), and they also overestimated the margin in Georgia the last time. So, their methods are obviously not error-proof. However, if their polls about Trump's overall win will be right this time again is what remains to be seen.