Election Coverage / Politics

Trafalgar: The Pollster That Keeps Getting It Right

AMAC Exclusive


After the 2020 election, many pollsters may as well have quit their jobs and taken up a different profession. For the second presidential contest in a row, the overwhelming majority of polls were so biased toward the Democrats that even the Atlantic acknowledged that much of the polling industry faces “serious existential questions.” Overall, the polls showed the largest statistical bias toward Democrats in 2020 in the history of U.S. elections, underestimating Republican performance by nearly 5 points on average.

Media and Democrat polls got the presidential, Senate, and House elections all badly wrong in staggering ways. The Economist election unit’s final presidential polling forecast, for example, gave Biden 50 more electoral votes than he actually won. An ABC News/Washington Post poll had Biden winning Wisconsin by 17 points with a week to go before election day. The final result in Wisconsin showed a 0.7-point margin between Trump and Biden. FiveThirtyEight’s polling average showed Trump barely winning Ohio by 0.8 points over Biden. The actual result was that Trump won Ohio by 8.4 points. The New York Times predicted that if the polls were as wrong as they were in 2016, Biden would still win Florida by close to 1 point. But Biden lost to Trump in Florida by 3.3 points. FiveThirtyEight’s final U.S. House polling forecast gave Democrats 20 more seats than they actually won. In the Maine Senate race between Republican Susan Collins and Democrat Sara Gideon, every single poll, all 14 of them, mostly conducted by media and Democrat polling groups ranging from the New York Times to Change Research, got the race wrong. One Quinnipiac poll gave Gideon a 12-point lead over Collins. The final result was that Republican Susan Collins won the race by 8.6 points.

After the great polling debacle of 2016, one would think that the polling industry would have tried to make adjustments to more accurately gauge what voters are actually thinking. But the statistical bias that polls displayed in favor of Democrats actually became worse in the 2020 election compared to 2016, rising from 3.0 to 4.8 percentage points.

To this day, the polling industry generally has not changed its flawed methodologies and in many cases has refused to correct for unprecedented levels of pro-Democrat bias. According to FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver, the polls during 2020 were “pretty normal by historical standards.” (This is almost as embarrassing as Silver’s 2016 election night call, when at 8:13 pm – even after Trump had been showing remarkable strength in early Florida and Virginia voting – Silver went on ABC News to dramatically announce to a breathless George Stephanopoulos that he had changed the chances of a Hillary Clinton victory from 72% to 76%, and added that the evening was going pretty much as the Clinton forces had anticipated.)

There is, however, one pollster who has consistently outperformed the others during the Trump era. That is the Trafalgar Group.  

In 2016, the Trafalgar Group’s polling data did not just show that Trump would win the presidency, it accurately showed that Trump would get 306 electoral votes and that he would win Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Michigan, Florida, and Wisconsin, something virtually no one else was predicting.

In 2018, the Trafalgar Group released a poll showing Ron DeSantis winning the Florida Governor’s race. By contrast, the New York Times poll for that race showed Democrat Andrew Gillum up by 5 points and an NBC News poll showed Gillum winning by 4 points. DeSantis won the race on election day as the Trafalgar poll had predicted.

In 2020, polling from the Trafalgar Group had the lowest average error of virtually any other polling group in the nation, beating out polls from the New York Times, ABC News, the Washington Post, and even Rasmussen. Trafalgar Group polling correctly showed Trump winning North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, and Florida and accurately showed that the Wisconsin race would be decided within a 1-point margin.

AMAC Newsline recently interviewed the CEO of the Trafalgar Group, Robert Cahaly, to discuss why his polls often get it right when the media and even Republican pollsters keep getting it wrong.

Cahaly noted that one of the things that makes the Trafalgar Group “an industry disrupter” is that they “reject most of the polling orthodoxy.”

Among his insights, Cahaly understands the design of the polls themselves can drastically alter who responds to the sample. “Long questionnaires are just not realistic,” he said. “You are not going to get a mom or a dad to answer long questionnaires. You aren’t going to get average people. These people that you get answering 30-question polls are more invested in politics than the average person. No normal person will take the time to answer 30-question polls.”

Cahaly also thinks that what he calls “social desirability bias” can impact polling results. When asked whether there is such a thing as a shy Trump voter and how pollsters can best get shy conservative voters to answer questions truthfully, Cahaly replied, “People are hesitant to admit that they will vote for someone who is controversial. You have to get that answer.”

Cahaly has developed a variety of techniques to do just that. “What we did a lot of in 2016 is we would ask, ‘Who do you think the neighbors are voting for?’ That’s a way we found over the years to get an answer. Give people a polite way of telling you something uncomfortable. If somebody has a position on a controversial issue, they don’t want to be judged for what they think.”

“In 2016, what we found is people didn’t want to admit they were voting for Trump,” he continued. “Clinton is saying everyone who’s voting for Trump is a deplorable and all this nonsense. People were hiding their feelings. In 2020, it was even worse. Due to this cancel culture stuff, conservatives didn’t even want to participate in a poll. Period.”

So his firm dug even harder to find the hidden Trump vote in 2020. “One of the methods we used was telling people who we were,” he said. The pollster told them “just put our name in Google and you’ll see we are an actual polling group and not affiliated with a campaign.”

Ultimately, Cahaly thinks Trafalgar Group is consistently turning out more accurate polls than its competition because “other polling groups from 2016 to 2020 did not change. They said they sat down and figured out what they did wrong and were adjusting their models. But they never actually did.”

He finds this difficult to fathom. “We had a dress rehearsal for 2020, and it was called 2018,” he said. “If you look at the Governor’s race in Florida, we were the only ones who said DeSantis would win. Every other poll had the Democrat Gillum winning that race. The issue is that they can’t conceive of the fact that they have an old model and people lie.”

“People are just tired of being judged,” he said. Cahaly believes that polling in the Trump era must find ways of measuring voter sentiment that address this obvious social desirability bias.

When asked whether media polling with an overwhelming statistical bias toward Democrats amounts to “suppression” polling, as Trump alleges, Cahaly said: “It’s either done on purpose or its incompetence. So many so-called political pollsters also continue to get it wrong who poll for the Republican Party.”

One major example of polling failures in both the 2016 and 2020 elections was in gauging minority support for Republicans. Cahaly notes that Hispanics especially supported Republicans and President Trump, and not just in Florida and Texas. “It was all across the country, in Massachusetts and Wisconsin and California. When you talk to the polling establishment, they said the exit polls don’t indicate that. But you have to ask, how are they doing the exit polling? People are going to be less honest with you in person in exit polls when someone has a clipboard or an iPad.”

Cahaly thinks Trump’s true gains with minorities have been underreported. “I will tell you that across the country Trump did better than 35% with Hispanics as an average and he did better than 25% with African-Americans,” he said.

On the 2022 midterm elections, Cahaly cautiously predicts that at this time, “it is looking like Republicans will take back the House.”

“Everything is right for Republicans to take back the House, but obviously Republicans could still mess that up. For instance, certain Republicans are still gathered together listening to someone like Frank Luntz,” he said. “We haven’t seen the reform that needs to happen on the level of party organization.”

As for what the key debates will be going forward, Cahaly points to the rapid rise of Critical Race Theory as a national issue. “Education issues are massive election issues around the country,” he said. “Critical Race Theory is a major election issue. What we’re finding is that average Americans care about what their children are being taught. If you look at the riots that we had last summer, the older generation was more upset that the violence didn’t bother their children. So many of these young people had been taught crazy things.”

In the Virginia Governor’s race, Trafalgar Group is conducting polling for the Republican candidate, Glenn Youngkin. The issue of Critical Race Theory has exploded statewide as parents in Loudoun County have organized to fight the school board’s indoctrination efforts. “Loudoun County might as well be a campaign ad helping Glenn Youngkin every day,” Cahaly said.

Cahaly clearly believes Youngkin is riding the CRT issue up in the polls. All eyes will be on Virginia to see if that trend continues through to the fall, and if a grassroots rebellion in the commonwealth could presage a political earthquake next year.

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george will
1 year ago

so these dopes actually believe the “polling errors” were not part of a strategy?

1 year ago

There are two main issues in polling.

First, is to capture a voter’s true preference. And while there are issues with modern technologies and people hesitating to tell their preference, this is the easy part.

Second, once you have captured the preferences of a sample the pollster needs to accurately weight their responses. Remember, each of these responders represents thousands of other people.

What other pollsters are doing is they are consistently overweighting Democratic responders.

Bill on the Hill
1 year ago

I guess all of us got a 1st hand look at how accurate the polls were in 2016, didn’t we?
All polls are biased by their very nature & I have come to the conclusion to take all of them with a very LARGE grain of salt, including the above mentioned…
The pollsters indeed got it COMPLETELY wrong in 2016 which brings me to President Trump’s speech last evening in Sarasota, FL. Trump said things without coming right out with it on how he won the election in 2016 with HRC deemed the absolute winner before it ever got started…MSM, Big Tech, the lot of them will NOT talk about this under any circumstances on why their candidate did NOT cheat good enough to STEAL the 2016 election. (This explains the outcome of the fraudulent 2020 Presidential election.)
Trump as well as the military already knew the playbook about to unfold in the 2016 Presidential election. It is the military ( white hats ) that kept the numbers honest & the HRC inflated numbers failed to get counted on those machines/software…This is where the President opens up a little moving forward, the Democrats worked feverishly for the next (4) years to make sure Trump would NEVER get elected POTUS again & once again POTUS saw this coming, which means the military saw this too…Had president Trump acted on all of this right after the fraudulent inauguration on 1/20/21 we would NEVER have seen what all of us have now seen up to this moment in time…
The OPTICS wouldn’t have looked right had he put his fist down that early…
There are other considerations moving forward as well, technically Trump should be reinstated which means he’s stuck with VP Pence, all of this would be a FIRST, it’s never been done before.
There is another option however: A military operation all the way, it can’t happen any other way.
Once again, optics are extremely important & we will have the results of the audits coming out soon…
Maricopa County will be the tip of the iceberg because most of us already know there is no way in hell 2.1 million ballots are sitting on those pallets & that is before all the illegal paper is removed…
Georgia is next & that is a cluster*uck of major proportions along with Pennsylvania… :~)
Happy 4th of July to one & all!
Bill on the Hill… :~) 7/4/21…

1 year ago

You’re a dumbarse.

William (Bill) Abernethy
1 year ago

“It’s either done on purpose or its incompetence……….” This quote pretty much sums up the reality of so called pollsters. If I performed so poorly in my business I would be out of business.

1 year ago

The best thing would be to eliminate the the polls all together. Make the lazy voters get off their iPhone and turn off the fake news channels and do some mental foot work on their own. Check out what the candidates have done for the American people and the country. Learn to actually use their brains and think and decide for themselves not who they are told they should vote for. May cause a couple of headaches to do the work, but it would be your decision not some pollsters!!!

1 year ago

The liberal media and liberal polling outfits have a vested interested in polls that are skewed left. In their view, the propaganda value of the polls, and the suppression effect on Republican voters, outweigh the fact that they expose the pollsters as biased and unprofessional.

Harold Seneker
1 year ago

Trafalgar is good at estimating the honest vote. Problem is, Democrats will win the dishonest vote. That needs to be fixed.

1 year ago

The DumbocRats can flip the polls in most cases just like they flipped the results by cheating in the las POTUS election. It will continue that way until the majority of Americans realize they have become unwitting victims of a form of Communism that has been created by the DemocRat Party and a news media that sucks up to the DemocRats lies and bribes.

alan vervalin
1 year ago

Great article. Trafalgar is the only poll I give any respect to. For instance Real Clear Politics keeps displaying mostly the other polls and most of them have Biden over 50%. There is no way over 50% of Americans that are paying attention approve of this train wreck of a President!

Andrew P
1 year ago
Reply to  alan vervalin

Trafalgar does not do presidential approval polls, so we don’t know what the correct value is. We do know that Dementia Joe’s RCP average has been trending down.

1 year ago

Biden did not win the election….voter fraud and voting machines flipping votes installed this illegal buffoon….Trump won the election and most of America knows this….there was no one with any balls to call for investigations into the five states where most of the fraud was committed. Biden will be known in history as the cheater that he is….this is why he did no campaigning staying in his basement…the fix was in.

Andrew P
1 year ago
Reply to  Wanda

Dementia Joe told us in a moment of lucidity that he “has the most inclusive voter fraud machine in history”. I take him at his word.

1 year ago

The bad news is that democrats will never hear about the Trafalger polls on MSM because the outcome won’t fit their narrative, the truth NEVER fits their narrative!!

1 year ago

S.1 has to fail in any variation or the country will be a one party communist dictatorship. Keep state legislatures only in charge of voting laws.

If Trump won such huge percentages of ordinary Democrat voters, they had to come from Biden. Another proof that Trump won and the election was stolen.

Clay Rooks
1 year ago

If you take out the fraud, Trafalgar got it right. Trump won receiving about 306 electoral votes.

1 year ago

Trafalgar or no Trafalgar, the voting system must be changed for all states. Show identity and have everyone go to polls to vote. No mail in ballots, verification of citizens out of the country, verification of all absentee ballots, and verification of military personnel. Lets get this fixed!!!!!!!

1 year ago
Reply to  Karen

Maybe we make people put their finger in indelible ink to show having voted ONCE, and no more.

1 year ago

Excellent and completely accurate comment. Too many fellow Americans have chosen to sit by and do NOTHING of substance to hold any of our elected representatives accountable. Those elected representatives do indeed take that silence as a “go ahead” to do as they please and they frequently do. Confident that the American people will do NOTHING in response, even if they are caught.

Citizens do NOT maintain their rights and freedoms by demonstrating a complete apathy and indifference to what their elected representatives are doing supposedly on their behalf. That is in fact one of the fastest ways for a people to end up being slaves under authoritarian rule. A history lesson clearly a lot of Americans have either forgotten or never learned in the first place. Well if they continue to do NOTHING, they will soon get to experience true authoritarian rule first hand.

Thank you and have a glorious 4th of July. At least there are some people out there that still understand what it is supposed to stand for.

David Kohfield
1 year ago

I appreciate the article, but would have appreciated it more had it reflected the Trafalgar Group didn’t get Arizona, Michigan, Georgia or Nevada right. When touting positives, negatives should not be ignored, else the view presented is – by definition – skewed. Does Trafalgar Group have a better approach to polling? Absolutely. Is Trafalgar Group infalible? Nope, but that is not something to shy away from. The whole story is always the better story.

1 year ago
Reply to  David Kohfield

Or did they?

Andrew P
1 year ago
Reply to  Annie

Remember – “Most inclusive voter fraud machine in history”.

What did Dementia Joe mean by that? I think he meant it included RINO Republicans who were out to beat Trump as well as all sorts of Democrats. Maricopa County is run by Republicans. So is the Georgia Administration.

Phil Hammersley
1 year ago
Reply to  David Kohfield

They didn’t survey the cemeteries and DIMM HQs.

Brenda Blunt
1 year ago

Why can’t the scum leave the voting up to the legal registered voters and be done with it. The voters are the ones who know what they want. The scum doesn’t care!!

1 year ago

Polls must have a representative mix of people to be accurate. Think about this: What would poll of all AMAC members predict vs. a poll of all AARP members predict, and especially about 2020 election.

Mary S.
1 year ago

I agree that many people don’t want to answer questions indicating they support a choice deemed unpopular by national media.
I had to laugh every time I saw a poll during the Trump campaign for the Presidency in 2016. They almost all predicted a Democrat victory; however, none of the people I know, or their relatives across the U.S.A, had been polled, and everyone I asked disagreed with the polls. So where was this info coming from? Who was being questioned?
I generally ignore polling information at this point, but if Trafalgar is fair and accurate, I will watch for their statistics.

Andrew P
1 year ago
Reply to  Mary S.

Trafalgar says the VA Gov race is close, within 2 points.

1 year ago

The democrats will not be able to vote, if they cannot CHEAT. We can’t let Biden’s administration destroy our Great Country.

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