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Making a monkey of the opinion polls

June 11th, 2014

Every now and again we get a reminder that opinion polls are not an infallible guide to public opinion. In yesterday’s primary election to choose the Republican candidate for Virginia’s 7th congressional district the polls showed the incumbent Congressman Eric Cantor well ahead.

As The New Yorker reported: “According to Nate Silver, his internal polling showed him ahead by more than twenty points. A poll carried out on June 2nd by the Daily Caller did indicate that the race was narrowing somewhat, but even that poll showed Brat trailing Cantor by twelve points, forty per cent to fifty-two per cent.”

And the result? The challenger college professor Dave Brat ousted seven-term House Majority Leader Eric Cantor with 56 percent of the vote to Cantor’s 44 percent.

To make the result even more remarkable, the professor spent $122,000 on his campaign to his opponent’s $5 million plus.

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