Trump’s campaign manager pretends not to believe in polls as he spends big on polling

The president regularly tweets about polls he views as favorable.

Brad Parscale, campaign manager for US President Donald Trump's 2020 reelection campaign. He dismissed polling on Tuesday as meaningless.
Brad Parscale, campaign manager for US President Donald Trump's 2020 reelection campaign. He dismissed polling on Tuesday as meaningless. (Photo credit: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

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.

In December 2018, he tweeted a graphic of himself under the words “50% approval rating.”

This month, he boasted of another poll that found him at 51% job approval.

Notably, both polls came from Rasmussen Reports, which does not call cell phones. According to CNN’s Harry Enten, they were the least accurate polling firm in the 2018 midterm elections.


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.”