Polls /


  |   By Polling+ Staff


                      By Jeffrey Lord

The Gallup poll, founded by polling pioneer George Gallup, was certain.

By 1948 the poll had correctly predicted the results of every presidential election since it began polling them in 1936. And in 1948 the Gallup polling results were definitive.

The Republican presidential nominee, New York Governor Thomas E. Dewey, was going to defeat Democrat President Harry S. Truman by at least five points.

Dewey was seen as such a sure thing that another famous pollster of the day, Elmo Roper, had stopped interviewing voters altogether on September 9th. In fact, history would record, pollster Roper actually believed the race was not just over. He believed it had actually never started because Dewey was such a sure thing right from the beginning.

So certain were the pollsters of a Dewey win that others outside the polling brotherhood were taking note. In Hollywood, Warner Brothers had released a light comedy titled June Bride. With the film containing a line referencing presidents “from McKinley to Dewey.”

When election night finally arrived, the Chicago Daily Tribune put out its early addition, taking their headline from the polling wisdom. Eventually there would be a photograph of a grinning victorious President Harry Truman holding that edition of the paper aloft, its banner headline in all capital letters spread across the front page reading: DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN.

This story comes to mind as there is one story after another out there with headlines like this one from CBS: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/trump-poll-indictments-2023-08-20/

CBS News poll finds Trump’s big lead grows, as GOP voters dismiss indictments

There is, of course, no reason to doubt the polls on Trump. One poll after another shows some version of the same.

The Insider Advantage poll https://insideradvantage.com/insideradvantage-post-debate-national-republican-presidential-poll-trump-leads-at-45-percent-desantis-takes-solid-18-second-place-haley-rockets-to-third-in-survey/ headlines this:

InsiderAdvantage Post-Debate National Republican Presidential Poll: Trump Leads at 45 Percent; DeSantis Takes Solid 18% Second Place; Haley Rockets to Third in Survey

Again, there is no reason to doubt any of this. The hard fact for Trump opponents is that none of them has captured the public imagination. There is no reason what so ever to doubt that the former president is ahead of his arrivals by leaps and bounds, exactly as the polling shows.

Yet the lesson of 1948, albeit a long time ago with polling data tools that are, by 21st century standards, primitive, is simple. To borrow from the legendary New York Yankee’s catcher Yogi Berra? “It ain’t over till it’s over.”


Without question today’s polls showing Trump winning in a blowout are surely accurate. The caution is that until votes start to be cast in early 2024 in places like Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and the almost-a-dozen states that make up Super Tuesday – anything can come out of the blue that could affect not only the polls but the election itself.

In other words, as Thomas E. Dewey found out the hard way, Yogi Berra was right.