Via America’s Lawyer: Election Night came and went, leaving voters and pollsters stunned by just how a close a race we were witnessing. With Trump and Biden nearly neck-and-neck at the end of the night, viewers couldn’t believe how political pundits were once again bamboozled, just like in 2016. Mike Papantonio & Farron Cousins discuss more.


*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.

Mike Papantonio:             Tuesday’s election taught us a lot about where the country stands, some real surprises. I have Farron Cousins with me here to talk about it. Farron, I have, I just have to lead off with the death of the pollsters. I mean, my God, we saw it coming in 2016, but this is way out of whack. What’s your take?

Farron Cousins:                  Yeah. You know, after 2016, after they messed it up, they said, well, listen, we’ve, we’ve adjusted the way we do things. We’ve gotten bigger, more representative samples. You can totally trust 2020. And then, I mean, immediately, as soon as the first polls started closing on Tuesday evening, you look at it and you look at the polls from just two days before and you say, okay, nothing adds up, especially, you know, look at Florida. Biden was going to win Florida according to the polls by about five points, ends up losing it, one of the biggest margins of Democrats lost Florida in 30 years.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah. It’s, it’s actually, it’s, it’s it’s much worse. Okay. I got to spend a couple of minutes talking about this because the, the, these folks want you to forget. They want you to forget the, how they bungled this whole thing. New York Times, great example, gave a 70 to 75% chance of, of Biden sweeping Florida. Okay. New York Times, double, double digit wrong up until the day before the election, all right. It doesn’t stop there. ABC Washington Post gave Biden an 18 point lead in Wisconsin, the day before the election. Quinnipiac, Texas called Texas a toss up. I mean, Texas was going to be a toss up and it was going to turn blue, according to Quinnipiac.

Farron Cousins:                  Yeah. It, it went to Trump by six points. I mean, there was no toss up in Texas whatsoever. And see, the problem is we always have to rely on these polls. Members of the media have to rely on these polls. We don’t create them. We take them when they’re given, we look at the aggregate. So when we go out there and we report on the polls, we report on this data, we also end up looking silly because we only reported on what the data showed.

Mike Papantonio:             But it’s the media. It’s the media.

Farron Cousins:                  I, I have to go out and do lots of segments saying, listen, I’m sorry, I’m sorry that I had said it wrong here and wrong here and wrong here. But that was based on what was available for us.

Mike Papantonio:             But you did, you also covered segments where you said this doesn’t look right.

Farron Cousins:                  Right.

Mike Papantonio:             You said this doesn’t, like Reuters, 12 points off the day before the election. CNBC, 10 to 15 points off the day before the election. The, you know, who got it right? Rasmussen and real clear politics, almost right on the head so far. I mean, just right there. You know, the truth is that the, the way I see this developing is we have an industry, a polling industry that feeds the media and of course the media they’re just as guilty, man.

Farron Cousins:                  Right.

Mike Papantonio:             They, they want to take this and they want to say, oh my God, it’s over. You know, according to ABC poll Washington Post, it’s over. But these folks are going to go home today and they’re going to hope that the American public forgets about it. Now I’ll tell you this. There was a story in the Atlantic, it was written by a guy, some cat named Derek Thompson. I don’t know if you saw the story. He spends all this time talking about in the Atlantic, how it’s different now. We have solved the problems.

Farron Cousins:                  Yeah.

Mike Papantonio:             Isn’t that what you’re hearing? End of this election, the pollsters are saying, oh, you know, yeah, we messed up last time. Jake Tapper calling landside, you know, landslides, landslide talk coming out of Jake Tapper. Well, Jake Tapper is relying on the type of polls we’re talking about because he wanted, Jake Tapper wanted a landslide.

Farron Cousins:                  Right.

Mike Papantonio:             He starts off with his political ideology. He wanted a landslide. So Jake Tapper takes these polls and he puts them to work. But this guy with the Atlantic, he says, we have new methods. He said 2016, there were huge, the difference in 2016, is there were huge numbers of voters that decided late for Trump. Sound familiar, right? 2016, he says it’s different because there was no October surprise in 2020. Goes through this list trying to justify why they screwed up so bad.

Farron Cousins:                  Well, and what we could be seeing, you know, we can’t rule out the possibility of some people, not being honest with the pollsters. I mean, but you factor that in to margins of error. That’s what that means.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah.

Farron Cousins:                  You know, whether or not these people you’re talking to are being honest. Maybe they’re embarrassed about which one of these old geezers they wanted to tell you they were voting for. It changes based on how the question is framed and that could confuse people. I know that sounds silly, but it does confuse them. I took courses in how to take polls. You know, that’s part of what we do as political scientists.

Mike Papantonio:             Right.

Farron Cousins:                  So I, I’ve studied this. I’ve written papers on it. And it blows my mind that with as advanced technology as we have now, with as much access as we have to human beings, that we’re getting it worse than ever.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah. Okay. So Atlantic says it’s cured because we have new algorithms. I mean, that’s, that’s part of their talking. I don’t want the American public to forget about ABC and Washington Post and Quinnipiac and Reuters and CNBC. I don’t want them to forget.

Farron Cousins:                  The Wall Street Journal had a bunch of bad ones too. That they prompted huge, huge numbers on Biden.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah, Oh my God, Wall Street Journal, it was all the same kind of story. And you just go, it is the death of the pollster, unless they fix this, it is almost irrelevant. You know, the worst thing about it is the state polling, no name polls, you know, maybe came from a University, they got it right.

Farron Cousins:                  Yeah.

Mike Papantonio:             State by state, they got it right. But the media didn’t want to tell their story because it wasn’t a jazzy story. So they didn’t tell the stories.

Farron Cousins:                  Well, you know what? You know, you, you brought up a good point about the algorithms. They say, we fixed the algorithms. That means, you know, they’re putting these numbers through the computers. They’re letting those computations take place versus the universities. What are the universities do? They have actual human beings that sit there and they work out these equations. Again, I still have these written out in a notebook that’s under my bed. There’s equations you use to determine the poll numbers. You input the data, XYZ, whatever it is and that’s what these universities are doing. And that’s far more reliable than letting a computer, you know, if you input something wrong in the computer, you don’t see it in the final result.

Mike Papantonio:             Or don’t you do a forced polling. If you force your, we’re seeing a lot of that.

Farron Cousins:                  Yeah.

Mike Papantonio:             We looked at a lot of these. They were just push polls. They were saying, this is a way to say that you’re not going to vote for Trump. And they would push poll. And then the media NBC, ABC would take all this and they would have a, just, just a heyday with it. Polling is dead.

Farron Cousins:                  It is.

Mike Papantonio:             I, I swear to God, I proclaim it dead. This blue wave that we’re going to see, it’s a mud puddle. Now I will tell you this, you know, all, all week, we’re going to be seeing, you know, these numbers being counted. I think Biden’s going to win the presidency. I, I sincerely think he’s going to win. But with the Senate, you know, they had, there, there was no blue wave. They had to have the Senate, they had to pick up a bunch of new places in the, a bunch of new seats in the House. They didn’t do that. And there’s some reasons why, let’s talk about those reasons. Okay.

Farron Cousins:                  Yeah. And I think overall, the Democrats, you know, even if Biden pulled out the white house, it wouldn’t have been a victory. There wasn’t a whole heck of a lot to celebrate on the democratic side, unless you’re just strictly tribal and it’s us versus them. Then sure. If it’s team sports, you can celebrate. On the issues though, when you look at some ballot initiatives, I know California had some progressive ones that lost, pro corporate ones that passed, the rest of the country, though, they did really great. You know, decriminalization of drugs, recreational use of marijuana, 15 dollar minimum wages.

Mike Papantonio:             Minimum, minimum wage in Florida. Yeah

Farron Cousins:                  Right. Florida goes 500,000 more votes for Trump almost and passes a minimum wage increase, that tells you something about Florida voters. They’re okay with progressive policies, but not these democratic politicians.

Mike Papantonio:             Okay. Racial identity. Okay. This whole idea of racial identity politics. Wow.

Farron Cousins:                  Yeah.

Mike Papantonio:             Were, were the Dems wrong on that?

Farron Cousins:                  Absolutely. The numbers were, were phenomenal. Trump app, actually increased his standing in every single demographic. Black voters, white women voters, Latinos, and that is what helped Trump stay competitive in this. That’s what made this such a tight race and that played a huge role here in the South, obviously in Florida, but also in Georgia. Definitely in Texas, they broke for Trump and Biden took them for granted. Biden had said on the record, I don’t need to reach out. We’re not going to worry about that.

Mike Papantonio:             Let’s take, let’s take a little, I’m going to take another minute and talk to you about what the list looks like. The list of what went wrong. No surprise here. There was a backlash in the States, in so many of the States there was total backlash from what you call the Hollywood phenomenon. Okay. The Hollywood phenomenon is I’m a celebrity and I’m going to just bash Trump every day that I’m in front of a camera. And for some reason, that’s going to have a positive effect at the polls. It had just the opposite effect. People are, are tired of this East coast, West coast, elite-ism coming out of Hollywood where the, where the Hollywood regards everybody as deplorable if they don’t live in the Hollywood gated community. Okay. So, so that was out there. And it’s almost like you, you idiots, you two tooth idiots who vote for Trump are so stupid that you don’t understand us, the wisdom of the elitist Hollywood. It killed them. It killed them in the state races. It’s very clear. Those numbers are coming out aren’t’ they?

Farron Cousins:                  But what’s interesting. It actually helped Trump.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah.

Farron Cousins:                  The celebrities he had on his side really did make a difference and that’s what was interesting. But again, with the Hollywood elite too, just pushing the, just vote, vote and everything will be fine. Vote and all of your problems will be fixed.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah.

Farron Cousins:                  As if the root of all the problems in America stem from Donald Trump and not this, you know, society, this economic system designed to keep down the bottom 90%. No, he is not the cause to our problems and just simply voting for blue is not going to fix anything.

Mike Papantonio:             Joy Behar, Rob Reiner, Chelsea Handler, Lady Gaga, Whoopi Goldberg, you know, come on. They, they cost so much and their belief that their opinion and their status as a Hollywood celebrity was so important that they could just at every turn attack Trump and there was a backlash. And I don’t know, I don’t think it’s going to affect the presidency, but I think it affected the state. I think it affected the, the, the, excuse me, the state certainly state elections. It affected the Senate and it affected the House. So somebody needs to get them under control because it’s going to get worse before it gets better. You can’t call middle America deplorables because of their religion, because of their family beliefs, because they’re, they’re, they’re blue collar workers. You can’t call them deplorables because you’re in your gated damn Hollywood elitist setting and you believe you’re smarter than the rest of the world.

Farron Cousins:                  Well, you know what’s interesting about that too, is that the folks on the, the real left, you know, the, the progressive left, they view those celebrities in the same way.

Mike Papantonio:             Oh do they? Yeah.

Farron Cousins:                  You know, they, they think this is ridiculous. You can’t tell people in the middle of an economic downturn from your, you know, porcelain swimming pool, oh, just vote for Biden. Everything will be okay.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah. Farron Cousins, thank you for joining me. Okay.

Farron Cousins:                  Thank you.

Mike Papantonio is an American attorney and television and radio talk show host. He is past president of The National Trial Lawyers, the most prestigious trial lawyer association in America; and is one of the few living attorneys inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. He hosts the international television show "America's Lawyer"; and co-hosts Ring of Fire Radio, a nationally syndicated weekly radio program, with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Sam Seder.