If the Polls Are as Wrong as They Were in 2016 – Trump Has the Election in the Bag
It’s no secret that the polls were wrong in the 2016 election, and if there’s as wrong by the same margin today as they were back then, Trump is in the lead.
The New York Times gave Hillary Clinton a nearly 90% chance of becoming president heading into the last election, but gave estimates this cycle about what we can expect if the polling was just as wrong now as it was back then.
If the average poll is 100% accurate, they project Biden winning 353 electoral votes to Trump’s 185. For reference, the Times predicted that Hillary would win 347 electoral votes to Trump’s 191 by this exact same logic in 2016.
But what if we take the average poll at face value, and then subtract the difference of how much they were off by in 2016? In that case, Trump could be reasonably expected to win 278 electoral votes to Biden’s 260. (And given the Times’ track record with these kind of projections, Trump would probably lead by more).
Rasmussen Reports was the most accurate pollster during the ’16 cycle, despite common accusations of Republican bias. Rasmussen had Hillary Clinton up 1.7 points over Trump on election day 2016, and Hillary ended up leading the popular vote by 2.1%. The average pollster in the Real Clear Politics Average had Hillary up by six points, meaning the average poll was off by roughly 4 percentage points in the 2016 election.
Today Trump hit his highest approval rating in the Rasmussen Poll at 53% (the highest point year), and their most recent presidential race poll had Trump taking a 47-46 lead over Biden. That’s not as quite a slim lead as it may look.
Because of how Trump is performing this far in key battleground states, Biden could need a 3-4 point in the popular vote just to have a greater than 50% chance of winning in the electoral college. Even if Biden leads the popular vote by a point there’s still a 94% chance Trump would become President, and the figure is 78% in Trump’s favor if Biden leads 1-2 points. This is because the distribution of where support is located matters. Biden picking up additional support in a state like California may boost his poll numbers overall , but it will make no impact on his odds of winning the national election because there’s never any doubt the Democrat is going to win California’s electoral votes regardless.
Chance of a Biden Electoral college win if he wins the popular vote by X points:
0-1 points: just 6%!
1-2 points: 22%
2-3 points: 46%
3-4 points: 74%
4-5 points: 89%
5-6 points: 98%
6-7 points: 99%
— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) September 2, 2020
As for if the pollsters have gotten any better since the last election cycle, that’s doubtful.
One recent YouGov/CBS seemingly paradoxically had Biden leading Trump by 10 points overall while having Trump lead Biden up 10 points among independents. While roughly the same percentage of the population identifies as Republican and Democrat, YouGov’s sample is only 30% Republican, but 42% Democrat, creating a +12 bias in favor of Democrats.
They’re still up to their old tricks, but they’re not fooling anyone twice….. except most of the mainstream media.