The shadow stalking Democrats’ improving numbers: Can polls be trusted?

The Shadow Stalking Democrats’ Improving Numbers: Can Polls Be Trusted? - Zv44Omuakui6Zdgiw2Lfms5Hsy
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Over the past two months, FiveThirtyEight’s average of congressional ballot polling has shifted from a two-point Republican advantage to a half-point Democratic one. Its average of approval polling for President Biden has gone from Biden being underwater by 17 points (that is, his “disapprove” percentage is 17 points higher than his “approve”) to a more modest 11 points. Speaking a bit more figuratively, Democrats generally have moved from a position of panicked hyperventilation to one of cautious breath-holding.

But then there’s that shadow that follows the party around like a rain cloud: What if the polls are wrong? Or, really: What if the polls are wrong again?

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When Republicans overperformed polls in 2014, not many people noticed. Republicans held an advantage in generic-ballot polling (poll questions that pit an unnamed Republican against an unnamed Democrat) and…

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This article was written by Philip Bump and originally published on