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How Many Elections Must High-Polling Republicans Lose To Learn Ballots Matter More Than Votes?

Despite Joe Biden’s unpopularity, Democrats are consistently finding ways to win at the ballot box.

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The majority of public opinion surveys conclusively indicate one thing: Most Americans disapprove of Joe Biden and his disastrous presidency.

Not only is Biden viewed unfavorably by most Americans, but a significant majority of the country believes the U.S. is headed in the wrong direction. Moreover, polls regularly show most Americans are overwhelmingly dissatisfied with the president’s handling of major issues, such as inflation and the ongoing invasion at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Yet, despite Biden’s flailing presidency and unpopularity, Democrats are consistently finding ways to win at the ballot box.

Case in point: New York, where Democrats cut into Republicans’ already-slim House majority on Tuesday by successfully winning a special election to fill the seat of former GOP Rep. George Santos, who was expelled from the lower chamber over corruption-related matters in December. Within hours of polls closing, Democrat Tom Suozzi was projected to defeat Republican Mazi Melesa Pilip in the battle for the Empire State’s 3rd Congressional District.

While polls predicted a narrow Suozzi victory, they significantly underestimated Democrat support. With 93 percent of the vote tabulated, as of publication, Suozzi is estimated to have beaten Pilip by 7.8 points — more than double the 3.7-point lead Suozzi was projected to win by, according to the RCP polling average.

As if things couldn’t get any worse for the GOP, Democrats also won a special election in Pennsylvania that will allow the state party to maintain control of the commonwealth’s House of Representatives. While Biden defeated former President Trump in the district by 11 points in the 2020 election, preliminary results from Tuesday’s contest show Democrat Jim Prokopiak defeating Republican Candace Cabanas by a whopping 35.4 points.

These results raise the question: If Biden is deeply unpopular among the American electorate, how do Republicans keep losing what should be winnable elections?

‘You Get A Poll! You Get A Poll! You Get A Poll!’

Tuesday’s election to replace Santos isn’t the only race in which polls widely underestimated Democrat support. As The Blaze’s Daniel Horowitz previously observed, the majority of surveys predicting the outcome of the country’s biggest 2022 Senate and gubernatorial elections overhyped Republicans’ odds of victory.

In Michigan’s gubernatorial race between Democrat Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Republican Tudor Dixon, for example, the RCP polling average showed Whitmer with a 1-point advantage heading into Election Day. Whitmer ended up winning the race by 10 points. The RCP average similarly projected that Republican Mehmet Oz would defeat Democrat John Fetterman by 0.4 points in Pennsylvania’s highly contested Senate race. Fetterman ultimately won the seat by 5 points.

The only contested Senate and gubernatorial races in which Republicans outperformed their expected polling averages were those in Florida, where Gov. Ron DeSantis and Sen. Marco Rubio won their elections by 19.4 and 16.4 points, respectively.

Surely, another year of high inflation, open borders, and rampant crime under Biden would push voters towards the GOP, right?

Wrong.

ABC News published a FiveThirtyEight analysis in September showing that Democrats not only won the majority of special elections between January and September 2023, but that they overperformed their projected margins. Even in some races Republicans won, Democrats managed to surpass expectations.

These trends were also noticeable in November’s off-year elections, in which Democrats won Kentucky’s gubernatorial race and a Pennsylvania Supreme Court seat, took control of Virginia’s General Assembly, and passed a ballot amendment that enshrined baby-killing into the Ohio Constitution. Republicans performed so poorly that they were left to brag about GOP Gov. Tate Reeves winning reelection in dark-red Mississippi by just 3.2 points. (Trump won the state by 16.5 points in the 2020 election.)

Everything Sucks, So What Gives?

While a lack of any concrete vision for the future of the country may be partly to blame, another theory explaining Republicans’ election failures can be found in the changes to election procedures enacted in 2020.

In the name of Covid, many states altered their election laws in ways that expanded the use of unsupervised mail-in voting and insecure election practices such as the use of ballot drop boxes in the lead-up to the 2020 presidential contest. After seeing major success in that election, Democrats realized they don’t have to focus on Election Day turnout to win elections — they only need to bank enough mail-in ballots during early voting to bring home the bacon.

In the years since 2020, the Democrat election machine has methodically orchestrated a nationwide effort designed to capitalize on this strategy and exploit existing mail-in voting laws. First, tax-exempt nonprofits bankrolled by leftist billionaires skirt federal law by registering demographics likely to vote for Democrats. With these likely-Democrat voters on state voter rolls, left-wing activists jump into action, harvesting these low-effort votes and running what have become highly effective get-out-the-vote campaigns that accrue Democrats an advantage over Republicans ahead of Election Day.

RealClearPolitics published an in-depth analysis of this phenomenon at play in the 2022 midterms last year.

For this reason, using polls to predict election outcomes is a fool’s errand, as it’s become incredibly difficult for pollsters to estimate how much these efforts will affect any given race. The reality is that Republicans will continue to lose elections unless they change the laws where they hold power or figure out a way to compete with Democrats’ election machine. Until then, using polls and public opinion surveys to predict election outcomes will remain meaningless.


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