With just two weeks before Election Day and suffering a five to six-point deficit in the polling averages, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is lashing out at both the media and pollsters, claiming that the majority of surveys being conducted are rigged in favor of his opponent, Hillary Clinton.
Speaking at a round-table event with farmers in Florida on Monday, Trump dismissed claims he is losing to Clinton, arguing that the media was using “phony polls” and downplaying those polls which show Trump tied or leading.
Trump is currently trailing the former Secretary of State by 5% in the RealClearPolitics average of polls in a four-way race. Only two polls – the Investor’s Business Daily/TIPP tracking poll and Rasmussen Reports tracking poll – have shown Trump in the lead over the past week.
Others show a significant lead for Mrs. Clinton, including the ABC tracking poll, which shows the Democrat leading by 12 points. The latest CNN/ORC poll gives Clinton a five-point lead, while Quinnipiac shows her with a seven-point advantage. Polls by YouGov, Fox News, Bloomberg, and Reuters/Ipsos show Clinton ahead by four, six, nine, and four points respectively.
But Trump downplayed Clinton’s lead in those surveys, claiming they oversampled Democrats.
“I actually think we're winning,” Trump said. “What they do is show these phony polls where they look at Democrats, and it’s heavily weighted with Democrats. And then they'll put on a poll where we're not winning, and everybody says, 'Oh, they're not winning.' It's a heavily weighted poll with Democrats, like the ABC phony poll that just came out - totally phony poll. But the polls that really mean something, where they really have been accurate over the years, we're leading by two nationally.”
The former reality TV star added that the use by the media of the “phony polls” amounted to an attempt to rig the election by depressing Republican turnout.
“Watch the polls, because this is part of crooked system, it’s part of the rigged system that I've been talking about since I entered the race.”
“They call them 'dark polls'. They are phony polls put out by phony media…What they do is they try and suppress the vote, this way people don't go out and vote. But we're winning this race. I really believe we're winning.”
Experts, however, point out that pollsters don’t screen for political affiliation, and that higher levels of self-reported Democrats simply indicate a greater number of Democrats in the electorate, Fox News’ Chris Stirewalt explained.
“[Pollsters] don’t weight their samples for the numbers of Republicans and Democrats. The weighting is on demographics: how many white voters, how many Hispanic voters, how many male voters, how many voters from upper income households, how many voters from lower income households, etc.”
Nor would greater numbers of self-identified Democrats over Republicans be much of a surprise. Since the Great Depression, Democrats have outnumbered Republicans almost every year.
According to the Pew Research Center, since 1939, there were more Democrats than Republicans every year except 1991, when the two parties were tied, and 1995, when Republicans led by a single point, 31-30.
In the 2012 election exit polls, Republican turnout was low and Democrats outnumbered Republicans 38% to 32%.