Trump Hires GOP’s Worst Pollster
Donald Trump likes to say he hires the best people, but apparently that policy doesn’t extend to pollsters.
Donald Trump just hired the guy responsible for one of the biggest polling disasters in recent history.
John McLaughlin, a long-time Republican pollster based in New York, confirmed to The Daily Beast that he’s joined the Trump Train to poll New York State, as the campaigns hopes it will be competitive in November. The New York Times first reported that he was headed to team Trump.
McLaughlin is most famous for his role in a historic upset: the astounding primary 2014 defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor to college professor Dave Brat.
McLaughlin was Cantor’s pollster, and released a poll two weeks before the race indicating Cantor would win by 34 points.
Instead, he lost by 12—a polling flub of titanic proportions. Washington Post reporter Paul Kane noted that tomorrow will be the two-year anniversary of the release of McLaughlin’s now-infamous poll.
McLaughlin said campaign manager Corey Lewandowski initially reached out to him about polling for the mogul in January of 2015, but that he turned him down because he was working for Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party in the Israeli elections and didn’t have time for Trump.
McLaughlin also said he wrote up a campaign plan for Trump in 2011, at the mogul’s request—and that in that plan, he encouraged Trump to have Lewandowski run his New Hampshire operation.
The New York Times noted that John McLaughlin—said pollster and the newest member of Team Trump—first met Trump through Dick Morris, the visionary sage who anticipated Mitt Romney’s “landslide” victory.
The news comes on the heels of a major loss by a Trump endorsee (and former McLaughlin client), North Carolina Republican Rep. Renee Ellmers. Ellmers, Trump’s first endorsement, became the first incumbent Republican to lose a primary this cycle on Tuesday night when another Republican representative, George Holding, defeated her by 30 points.
Because of redistricting, he chose to run in her district instead of his own. And despite the fact that she’d won Trump’s imprimatur, he had no trouble obliterating her—thanks in large part to the involvement of movement conservative outside groups, including the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity and the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List.
McLaughlin was Ellmers’ pollster until Holding decided to run against her. He told The Daily Beast that he also works for Holding, and opted to stay with him instead of her.
That’s not to say McLaughlin’s record is all bad. Netanyahu’s Likud Party was successful when he polled for them during the 2015 Israeli elections. And his client list includes incumbent Republican Reps. Peter King, Lee Zeldin, Barbara Comstock, and Mario Diaz-Balart.
But his record also draws guffaws from opponents—notably the folks at Daily Kos Elections, who have dubbed his operation “one of the very worst polling outfits in the nation” and gleefully catalog his errors. Notable flubs include the prediction that Romney would win Virginia by 7 points in 2012, and Colorado by 4. Romney lost both.
This cycle gives Trump a chance to try to best Romney—and it gives McLaughlin a shot at redemption.