President Donald Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign manager attempted to gaslight the American people on Tuesday, claiming that polling today is completely meaningless and should be totally ignored — yet his own operation previously shelled out tens of thousands of dollars on polling expenses.
Last week Trump was caught in a lie when he falsely claimed that leaked internal polls showing him trailing badly in key states were “phony.” After the memos were made public, Trump’s campaign reportedly dismissed three of its pollsters, including the man who took over the firm built by White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway.
On Tuesday, campaign head Brad Parscale told CBS News that none of this matters because effective polling is no longer possible.
“The country is too complex now just to call a couple of hundred people and ask them what they think,” he claimed. “The polling can’t understand that and that’s why it was so wrong in 2016. It was 100% wrong. Nobody got it right. Not one public poll.”
While several state polls proved to be off in 2016, national polling was close to predicting Hillary Clinton’s 2.1% popular vote advantage.
“None of these polls mean anything,” Parscale continued. “It’s the biggest joke in politics. It’s the fakest thing.”
A ThinkProgress examination of Federal Election Commission filings, however, found that Trump’s re-election campaign committee reported disbursements of at least $42,000 for “polling expenses” to a firm called TargetPoint Consulting Inc. In the 2016 campaign, Trump spent more than $1 million on polling.
Speaking to CBS News, Parscale did not address why the campaign would spend so much of the money donated by its supporters for something he says does not mean anything.
Even a cursory examination of Trump’s Twitter feed reveals that he does not believe polling to be meaningless. Any time a poll — including those from questionable sources — contradicts the vast majority of data that show low approval ratings, for instance, Trump blasts it to the nation.
“Republican Approval Rating just hit 93%” he bragged in March. “Sorry Haters!”
The poll to which Trump was referring was not a scientific poll, but rather a straw poll taken at the pro-Trump CPAC conference.
Republican Approval Rating just hit 93%. Sorry Haters! MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 5, 2019
In December 2018, he tweeted a graphic of himself under the words “50% approval rating.”
Working hard, thank you! pic.twitter.com/3SoWTkZjP6
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 6, 2018
This month, he boasted of another poll that found him at 51% job approval.
“The latest Polls find 51% of Americans approve of President Trump’s Job Performance. Last month a Democrat Pollster said President Trump’s approval rating has been the most steady of any President in history!” @OANN
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 15, 2019
Asked why Trump spends so much time obsessing about poll numbers, Parscale responded that it was “because the media makes it look like they matter” and referred any further questions to the president himself.
UPDATE: A Trump campaign spokesperson told ThinkProgress: “We test issues, which are used for prospecting and messaging. Almost all of the polling we do is on issues. And when tested against a defined Democrat, President Trump leads in all states we have surveyed.”