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One reason the polls were wrong: Why the answer is so significant for our national future

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We are still waiting for final results from Tuesday’s election, as President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden both have pathways to the White House. As states continue to count votes, legal challenges related to the election loom as well.

While we wait, I’d like to address a question many people are asking: Why were the polls so wrong again? Prior to the election, one poll gave Joe Biden a seventeen-point lead in Wisconsin; yesterday, his lead was 0.6 percent. Another poll had Mr. Biden with a five-point margin in Florida and four points ahead in Ohio; the president won Florida by three points and Ohio by eight. 

A political science professor notes, “Whatever the final result, there appears to have been a broad and systematic error in predicting the election outcome.” One explanation is social desirability bias, also known as the “shy voter” theory. It holds that Trump supporters were less likely to tell pollsters their political preferences. To the degree that this is true, it betrays something fundamentally wrong about our nation. 

According to a recent survey, 62 percent of Americans say they are afraid to share their political views with others. Clearly, we have crossed a dangerous line of essential civility. 

Why my father enlisted in the Army 

As I note in my latest website article, our nation is experiencing a season of deep divisiveness. We are angry not just at candidates we oppose, but at their supporters as well. 

In years past, national threats unified us. I remember packed churches in the days following 9/11 and my parents’ and grandparents’ stories about American patriotism during the Great Depression and two world wars. When the Japanese attacked us at Pearl Harbor, my father volunteered for the Army, a decision that nearly cost him his life. But for the rest of his life, he was proud to have served and proud of the nation he served. 

Many hope that our nation can find…

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