Everyone, take a deep breath and calm down — and if you're a certain Democratic frontrunner who may be freaking out over a recent poll regarding the battleground states, take a chill pill. Granted, a new Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday reveals Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are tied in swing states. It showed Clinton and Trump were neck and neck in Pennsylvania, Florida, and Ohio. The news almost certainly sent Clinton supporters into a tizzy. While I understand that all who proclaim #ImWithHer — or are just terrified at the prospect of President Trump — may have been ready to hit the panic button upon hearing the headlines, a number of analysts concluded that Clinton supporters should keep calm and carry on.
Admittedly, the concern over these numbers is not wholly unwarranted. The Quinnipiac poll shows that in Florida, Clinton leads Trump at a white-knuckled 43 percent to 42 percent; in Pennsylvania, also 43 percent to 42 percent; in Ohio, Trump leads Clinton at 43 percent to 39 percent. Politico reported that no presidential candidate has won an election since 1960 without winning at least two of these three swing states. Any data that indicates Trump could realistically become president is somewhat terrifying to a lot of people, but since he is the presumptive Republican nominee, it's a reality we're almost certainly going to have to live with for the next few months.
But how accurate is the Quinnipiac poll? Not enough to start panicking, according to some experts. No single poll is perfect, and it's important to look at all polls cohesively rather than place your bets on one single poll. It would be a mistake to take one poll as gospel. Case in point: the poll average in Florida, Pennsylvania, and Ohio is different from Quinnipiac's results.
So, say it with me:
On Monday, another poll conducted by Bendixen & Amandi International for the Miami Herald and other media organizations revealed that Clinton leads Trump by 27 percent in Miami-Dade county, Florida's most populous county. Last week, the Republican-leaning Associated Industries of Florida released a poll that showed Clinton leading Trump by 49 percent to 36 percent. These are only a few examples of how important it is to compare polls with each other to put things in perspective.
And it's important to compare not only current polls against each other, but to compare their histories of correctly predicting political outcomes, as well. The Quinnipiac poll — and other polls like it — should be held against their results in past election years for a more comprehensive view. Some analysts compared Quinnipiac's results to Public Policy Polling's (PPP).
Moreover, if a poll's results seem outlandish compared to how a party did in, say, 2012, it may be a red flag for how to interpret the rest of its current results.
For this election season, Quinnipiac hasn't always had the most stellar predictive record, according to Natalie Jackson at Huffington Post. She noted that, "Quinnipiac polls have shown a consistent Republican lean in comparison to other polls so far this year ... Their previous polls in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania leaned more toward Trump than other surveys."
Moreover, voters in the Quinnipiac poll apparently cast their votes while aware that Trump was, as senior editor of Fusion Adam Weinstein affectionately put it, an "insano crank." A solid majority in each of these states didn't feel confident that Trump could handle an international crisis because he lacked the "right kind of temperament and personality." Yet, based on the results, some of these people still felt confident putting him in the White House over Clinton.
One thing for sure can be extrapolated from the Quinnipiac poll: What goes on in voters' minds is a mystery.