Dean Chambers, who made a name for himself “unskewing” the polls in 2012 to give Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney more favorable results, has come to view political polling with a bit less suspicion and believes that Hillary Clinton is the favorite to win the White House.
“I would look at the RealClearPolitics no tossups map, they’re saying 273 [electoral votes] for Hillary,” Chambers, who founded the now defunct UnSkewPolls.com, told The Huffington Post in an interview. “My best guess is that’s probably pretty close.” In that scenario, predicted by RealClearPolitics’ polling aggregator, Clinton ekes out a narrow win by carrying Colorado, Wisconsin, Michigan, Virginia and New Hampshire.
“I think we can all agree that the polls are getting much closer and if that trend continues it could be very close on Election Day,” Chambers said, though added that Clinton’s advantage over Republican nominee Donald Trump in early voting will likely provide her an edge.
“I hear some Trump supporters saying that Trump is going to get a much higher result than polls are suggesting,” Chambers continued, “but I don’t have any basis to agree with that. If you’re trying to construct a scenario where Trump wins, you need five more electoral votes. Virginia, Colorado and New Hampshire seems likely to go to Hillary.”
Chambers’ attempts to “unskew” presidential polling in 2012 earned him a following from conservatives who clung to his favorable predictions of Romney’s ultimately doomed campaign, and from pollsters who viewed his techniques with skepticism and scorn. Since that time “unskew” has become social media shorthand for undoing the results of anything deemed undesirable or unfavorable.
After the election, Chambers started barackofraudo.com, a short-lived venture which speculated about the impact that election fraud may have had on the 2012 election.
“Well the problem with vote fraud is many of us believe it does happen but it’s tough to prove,” Chambers said.
Chambers contended that while voter fraud is hard to prove ― indeed studies have shown voter fraud to be an exceedingly rare occurrence ― the ability to commit it suggests it is more widespread than is reported.
“I think the main message that people missed with the whole scandal over ACORN is that they weren’t just submitting voter registrations to pad numbers, they were showing you could submit a voter registration for someone that doesn’t really exist,” Chambers said, referencing the 2009 controversy stemming from conservative activist James O’Keefe’s hidden-camera sting operation against the now-shuttered Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now.
“How much of this actually goes on, I don’t know,” Chambers conceded.
That said, Chambers said he believes the results of the election will be “mostly valid,” but reiterates that the polling challenge is predicting “who exactly is going to vote and what exactly it’s going to look like. If you look at the various demographic groups in the election, a 2 percent movement in one way or another can have a big impact.”
Chambers, for his part, believes that his inaccurate predictions in 2012 were not the result of self-delusion but a healthy skepticism about the imprecise science of polling.
“Part of what was a challenge was to predict who was going to turn out to vote versus who actually ended up turning out,” Chambers said. With that caveat in mind, Chambers reiterates that the race is still Clinton’s to lose. “If had to guess, it’ll probably by 3, 4 percent in favor of Democrats and the popular vote will be pretty close.”
Ultimately, Chambers says, he just wants the democratic process preserved.
“We don’t want real votes suppressed and we want real votes allowed,” he said.
Huffington Post reporter Eliot Nelson’s book, The Beltway Bible: A Totally Serious A-Z Guide to Our No-Good, Corrupt, Incompetent, Terrible, Depressing and Sometimes Hilarious Government, is out now.