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A reminder from David Harsanyi that 'national generic ballot polls are useless'

“Useless” is how Federalist editor David Harsanyi describes national generic ballot polls.


National generic ballot poll results are abundant in congressional election years. The difficulty with extrapolating congressional electoral outcomes from national generic ballot polling is similar to that of inferring which presidential candidate will win the electoral college based on national head-to-head polling results.

Too many political polls have produced inaccurate results (results that did not reflect the electorate) in recent election cycles. The main problem with a national generic ballot poll is not inaccuracy, though it may produce an inaccurate result. The main problem with a national generic ballot poll is that, by definition, it produces one nationally-compiled result rather than results signaling electoral sentiment on a state-by-state, district-by-district, and race-by-race basis.

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