The Polls Missed One Big Truth: Labels Lie

Credit: Raúl Vázquez/EyeEm/Getty Images

It’s been nearly a month since Election Day and I’m still thinking about it — about how wrong the polls were, how close it was in so many states and counties and particularly, how many groups didn’t vote as expected. That’s the part I want to dig in to. Working with my Facebook friends, I collected dozens of statements to remind us, once and for all, to stop lumping people together based on a single variable.

Dear Cable News,

Seems like at least one lesson from the election of 2020 is: embrace the complexity. The time has come to stop talking about women and Latinos and non-college-educated whites and rural Americans as if every last person in any of those groups agree on every last thing. Stop talking about coastal elites and gun owners as if they are unified on every conceivable issue. Stop talking about freedom-lovers and socialists.

Ask yourself:

Can a man wear a mask and fly a flag? Yes.

Can a woman love Jesus Christ and marry her girlfriend? Yes.

Can a person own a gun and want to expand background checks? Yes.

Can an immigrant advocate for stricter immigration laws? Yes.

Can a decorated veteran want a smaller military? Yes.

Can a person support the police and believe black lives matter? Yes.

Can a person be excited for the advancement of Kamala Harris and Amy Coney Barrett? Yes.

Can you be a fiscal conservative and still want to invest in education and health care? Yes.

Can a teacher love to teach and be terrified to be in the classroom during the pandemic? Yes.

Can you be passionate about your beliefs and not use language like libtards and deplorables? Yes.

Can you be from rural America and not be a “hick?” Yes.

Can you be an atheist and still lead a moral life? Yes.

Can you be a devout Catholic who supports reproductive freedom? Yes.

Can you believe in peace and still support our troops? Yes.

Can you be patriotic and want the government to temporarily close down bars and gyms? Yes.

Can a person believe America should be a sanctuary for immigrants and refugees without supporting “open borders?” Yes.

Can you have faith in a higher power and believe in science? Yes.

Can a person who believes in small government still believe the government plays an essential role in protecting the environment? Yes.

Can a person who makes more than $400,000 a year still support increased taxes on people making over $400,000 a year? Yes.

Can we address our constitutional issues around inequality and still keep the spirit of the framers in mind? Yes.

Can you support the second amendment and still want a ban on assault rifles? Yes.

Can a farmer be in favor of trade restrictions on countries who import US grain? Yes.

Can you desire equality of opportunity, a social safety net, and fair taxing of corporations and not endorse socialism? Yes.

Can a liberal want tougher crime laws and greater police responsiveness? Yes.

Can a Trump-Supporter not be a White Supremacist? Yes.

Can a person be a church-going Catholic and condemn priests sexual assaults? Yes.

Can a person be a pacifist and a military mom who believes her son serves so others have a right to kneel? Yes.

Can a Christian support the LBGTQ community? Yes.

Can a person who votes Republican want equality and opportunities for all people? Yes.

Can someone feel deep sadness at abortion and still support a woman’s right to choose safe, available, and affordable termination of a pregnancy? Yes

Can you be a little bit Republican and a little bit Democrat? Yes.

Can you believe America is great and still want it to change and evolve? Hell yes.

Consider this your call to complexity.


a patriotic woman and her patriotic friends who are sick to death of being reduced to labels

Kelly Corrigan is the author of four New York Times bestsellers, a host of shows on PBS, KQED and WHYY, and a podcaster who believes knowing more and feeling more will make us do more and be better.

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kelly corrigan

kelly corrigan


New York Times bestselling author, host of new podcast: Kelly Corrigan Wonders and PBS show: Tell Me More with Kelly Corrigan