Whether you’re grilling burgers, shopping for deals, or trying to get rid of your white pants, Labor Day is always worth celebrating. For those who are more politics-savvy, though, the first Monday in September is especially important, since it marks the officially unofficial beginning of election season!
Okay, in this day and age, maybe that’s no longer the case. Nevertheless, Labor Day is often considered the start of the “home stretch” by political junkies, and for good reason. Most of the major primary elections are done, and if they haven’t already, candidates will begin shifting focus to the general.
This increase in campaign activity almost inevitably leads to an increase in spending, and this year is no different: already, America First Action and America First Policies, two conservative nonprofit organizations, announced they’ll be pouring $12.5 million into a dozen different close races.
While money is crucial, we’re really into polls here (as this site’s name may imply). Thankfully, those will ramp up, too, in a few ways.
Initially, even though the Midterms are “only” two months away, a lot of voters still haven’t made up their minds, and some of them are just now starting to pay attention to the election. Thus, large shifts in poll numbers are common. I’m not saying Democrats’ lead will evaporate overnight, but certain races might tighten. A few posts back, I mentioned a trend in which gains or losses revert to the mean. This is that.
Additionally, polls become more reliable as Labor Day passes. That may sound pretty obvious, but the reasoning behind it is partially due to methodology; in the last 60 days of an election, pollsters begin using reliable likely voter models. After all, which would you better trust to predict the outcome of an election — a poll that asks just registered voters their preferred candidate, or a poll that asks likely voters their preferred candidate? Polls also get more accurate as undecided voters start sorting themselves.
Finally, expect pollsters to conduct and release a greater volume of polls. To my knowledge, there isn’t any hard quantitative evidence about the number of surveys conducted post-Labor Day, so we’ll have to rely on an anecdote: I follow a Twitter account called @Politics_Polls, and it tweets out every new major poll. In the last few days, my timeline has been flooded with generic ballots and numbers from specific races. While not every poll will be reliable, these new data points give us the opportunity to follow through with rule number-one — look at polling averages, not just one poll.
So, if Labor Day is your first time following the 2018 Midterms, welcome! If you’ve been on this ride since the beginning, I suggest you hold on. This election is just getting started, folks.