New Jersey’s pollsters weren’t close in the Van Drew vs. Kennedy race

By Matt Rooney
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The polling industry is officially a laughingstock in the wake of Election 2020, Save Jerseyans, and you don’t need to examine presidential ballots or look very far from home to see why.

Consider NJ-02.

Incumbent Republican Jeff Van Drew now leads his vanquished Democrat challenger Amy Kennedy by 6.4-point with about 93% of the vote tabulated. The polls forecasted a Kennedy win.

Stockton University – which was infamous for predicting a 14-point Mike Testa loss in LD1 last year only for Testa to go on and win by 7-points – once again fell far short. Stockton said Van Drew was down 1-point at the end of October, a 7.4-point (at the moment) miss.

Monmouth University was even further off the mark; they had Van Drew trailing Kennedy by 6-points (50% to 44%). 

“Cape May and Cumberland county voters got used to supporting Van Drew on the Democratic ticket. This time around many of them are sticking with the party rather than the candidate,” Monmouth’s director Patrick Murray opined backed on October 5th.

Oops! Van Drew has about 61% of the vote in GOP red Cape May at the moment, and while we’re waiting on final numbers out of Cumberland, it looks like he’s behind in lean-blue Cumberland County by only about 3-points at the moment. So yeah, Monmouth didn’t come close to calling this one. The end result: a 12.4-point miss!

Polling can still add value to the electoral process if the pollsters (1) make the right assumptions and (2) follow the data instead of their preordained preferred narrative. Sadly, very few public polls in 2020 qualify. They need to be disregarded moving forward or, at the very least, treated as about as authoritatively as Internet polls which are designed more for entertainment than anything else.