Monday, March 14, 2016

Trump's Continued Underperformance of Polls Impacts Tuesday's Election Predictions

In preparation for making Tuesday's GOP primary predictions during my appearance on Jon Easter's "Johnnystir" internet radio show, I decided to research my hunch that Donald Trump was underperforming his poll numbers.  My suspicion proved to be correct.
Twenty state contests had a Real Clear Politics poll average before the election, or if no RCP average, a recent poll that RCP deemed credible enough to publish the result.  I looked at Trump's margin of victory compared to those poll results, or if he lost the state, the margin between Trump and the winner,   I found that when it came to the margin, Trump underperformed his poll numbers in 15 of 20 elections, by an average of -7.84%.  It has also increased over time. In the fourteen contests March 1st or earlier, Trump's underperformance was -4.47%.  In the 6 contests since then, the underperformance was -15.7%.

For the record, the five states in which Trump outperformed his polling margin are New Hampshire (2.3%), Nevada (1%), Alabama (4.6%), Arkansas (6.3%), Georgia (0.6%).  All were contests were March 1st or earlier.

The 15 states in which Trump underperformed his polling margin are Iowa (-8%), South Carolina (-3%), Alaska (-6.9%), Minnesota (-10.2%), Oklahoma (-13%), Tennessee (-3.8%), (-8.1%), Texas (-8.1%), Vermont (-12.7%), Virginia (-11.7%), Kansas (30.9%), Kentucky (-9.3%), Louisiana (-12%), Idaho (-28.3%), Michigan (-0.7%), Mississippi (-13%).

I decided to also delve into the support numbers in the poll versus the election result. Here I am looking at the raw number the candidate has in the poll versus the raw number he gets on election day.  This is tricky because poll results often include candidates who drop out before that particular state's election.  So on that state's election day, the remaining candidates should have higher numbers as they pick up support from the dropped out candidates.  But even with that phenomenon going on, Trump's support numbers before the election barely increased by +.805%  So the additional support he is picking up from dropped out candidates is barely making up for his consistent underperforming poll numbers.

Contrast Trump's numbers to Ted Cruz's.  The Texas Senator's support numbers, again support numbers refers to raw poll numbers the candidate is receiving v. result on election day, is +7.705%.  The contrast to Trump's +.805% is striking.

March 15th is a huge day on the GOP calendar.  That's the day when states are allowed to have winner-take-all primaries.  Four of five states holding primaries on that day, Ohio, Florida, Illinois and Missouri, have adopted state winner-take-all systems statewide and/or by congressional district.  The reason why the above analysis is so important in predicting the result of those elections is that, while Trump has a safe lead in Florida of 18.7% over second place Florida Senator Marco Rubio, he is behind Governor John Kasich by 2.0% in Ohio, and ahead of Cruz by 8.7% in Illinois, 7% with limited polling in Missouri, and 12.8% in North Carolina, which awards delegates proportionally.  Given the above analysis of how the candidates perform, Missouri and Illinois are within Cruz missile distance and North Carolina not that far outside.

Imagine the media stories if Trump loses four of five states on Tuesday?  While that's certainly possible, it is probably not going to happen.    Trump will likely win North Carolina (which means little given its proportionality award of delegates), Illinois and Florida.  Kasich is likely to win Ohio and I believe Cruz will win Missouri as that's they type of western under-the-radar state he seems to do well in.

To summarize, my predictions for the Real Super Tuesday are:

Florida;  Trump
Ohio:  Kasich
North Carolina:  Trump
Illinois:  Trump
Missouri:  Cruz

Since you lost the farm following my previous predictions, this time bet the title of whatever truck/car/SUV you are driving.


LamLawIndy said...

Paul, to what do u ascribe the polls generally overstating DT's numbers? It's certainly happened quite a bit.

Anonymous said...

Your being in the tank for Soros and other non-Trump sorts suggests to me that the loons have taken over your skull.

Paul K. Ogden said...


I think Trump lacks the turnout machinery in many states, certainly one that matches Cruz's. That may account for much of the underperformance that doesn't show up in the polls. Winning elections requires a lot of ground work. Not sure Trump would be up for that task in a general election.

Anonymous said...

A Trump Reality Check
He is the least commanding GOP front-runner since Ford.
March 17, 2016 7:48 p.m. ET
Donald Trump won’t debate his Republican rivals again but he will continue to argue on Twitter. On Thursday the businessman demanded an apology after we—“the dummies at the @WSJ Editorial Board”—accurately noted that Hillary Clinton has received about a million more votes than he has. The truth hurts, though Mr. Trump would rather walk down Fifth Avenue shooting the messenger.

Mr. Trump says his numbers can’t be compared to Mrs. Clinton’s because “she had only 3 opponents—I had 16.” Actually his rise has been cleared by the large and fractured GOP field. Of the 20.35 million GOP primary votes cast so far, he has received 7.54 million, or a mere 37%. Despite the media desire to call him unstoppable, Mr. Trump is the weakest Republican front-runner since Gerald Ford in 1976.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump addresses a press conference following his victory in the Florida state primary on March 15. ENLARGE
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump addresses a press conference following his victory in the Florida state primary on March 15. PHOTO: RHONA WISE/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES
After Reagan, George H.W. Bush in 1988, Bob Dole in 1996 and George W. Bush in 2000 romped to nomination victories with only minor early setbacks. Mitt Romney and John McCain faced protracted challenges beyond Super Tuesday like Mr. Trump. The primary calendar and delegate allocation methods change from cycle to cycle, but at roughly the same stage of the campaign, both were performing far better.

In 2012 Mr. Romney was in a three-way race with Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich, with Ron Paul also nabbing votes. Yet by mid-March Mr. Romney had carried the popular vote in 21 states and won 57% of the allocated delegates, according to our calculation. Mr. Trump has 18 wins and 47% of allocated delegates. Mr. Romney swept the remaining primaries by convincing margins. Mr. Trump hasn’t won 50% in any state.

Mr. McCain in 2008 was even more of a consensus pick than Mr. Romney, whom he defeated that year. By this point the Senator had won 24 states and 59% of allocated delegates.

Mr. Trump has fervent support but equally as passionate opposition, including among Republicans. Gallup reports his March 10-16 “net favorable” in the GOP is 22%, meaning the share of people with positive views minus those with negative views. Hard-fought campaigns tend to drive down everyone’s approval for a time, but at this point Mr. Romney’s net favorable was 28% and Mr. McCain’s was 30%.

The Real Clear Politics polling average shows twice as many adults have negative views (61%) than positive views (32.5%) of Mr. Trump. Gallup reports he “has a higher unfavorable rating than any nominated candidate from either of the two major parties going back to the 1992 election when we began to track favorability using the current format.”

Mr. Trump also tweeted Thursday that “The good news is, nobody cares what they say in their editorials anymore, especially me!,” and we’re glad he’s such a loyal reader. We also aren’t among those who think Mr. Trump is a sure loser in November, not least because Hillary Clinton’s negatives are also historically high.

But Mr. Trump has some major coalition repair work to do. The opinions he should care about are the 39% of GOP voters who said in Tuesday’s exit polls that they would consider supporting a third-party candidate if Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton are the nominees, or the 44% of non-Trump GOP voters who said they won’t cast a ballot for him in November. As Mr. Trump likes to tweet, better be careful!