Monday, July 13, 2020

Why Biden's Polling Lead is Different From Hillary Clinton's

Trump supporters are always quick to dismiss polls.  They claim the 2016 polls were wrong, that the polls undercount Trump voters, who do not want to admit to pollsters who they are voting for.  These are the so-called "Shy Trump" voters.

The whole argument is a bunch of bunk.

First, the polls in 2016 were not way off as is claimed.  Nationally, the RealClearPolitics polling average on Election Day showed Hillary Clinton would win the popular vote by 3.3%.  She won by 2.1%.  That's not off much and certainly does not reflect much of a "shy Trump voter" effect.

Of course, presidential elections are decided on a state-by-state basis.  Looking at the RCP polling averages, I am only aware of three states where the candidate who won on Election Day did not have a lead in the RCP polling average in that particular state - Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.    In Wisconsin, Trump won by .7% even though Hillary Clinton was leading by 6.5% in the RCP polling average in that state.  Pennsylvania 2.1

State                  Final RCP Polling Avg         Election Day Result
Wisconsin           Clinton by 6.5%                      Trump won by .7%
Pennsylvania       Clinton by 2.1%                      Trump won by .7%
Michigan             Clinton by 3.6%                      Trump won by .3%

So, the pollsters picked the winners in 47 of 50 states and on the three states where they identified the wrong winner, the result was within the margin of error for those polls.  That's not a bad record.  Nonetheless, those three states, won by Trump by a total of less than 78,000 voters, triggered a shift in the Electoral College in his favor.  Trump essentially drew to an inside straight in 2016.  He got incredibly lucky.

But even if the 2016 polls could be considered to have picked the "wrong" winner in 2016, there are several reasons to doubt they would be "wrong" in 2020.

ELECTION IS A REFERENDUM ON TRUMP:  when a President seeks re-election, the contest is almost always a referendum on that incumbent President. Trump is never been popular, and is near the bottom in his approval rating.

UNDECIDED VOTERS TEND TO FAVOR INCUMBENT:  undecided voters in 2016 broke significantly or Trump.  But when there is an incumbent, undecided voters usually break for the challenger.  Although there is a lot fewer undecided voters in 2020 than 2016, they're likely to break for Biden. That's why Trump needs to be leading in the key battleground states, not merely running even...which he's not even doing.

DOUBLE HATERS FAVOR BIDEN:  In 2016, there was a number of voters who disliked Trump and Hillary Clinton, i.e Double Haters  Exit polls show they broke by 17 points in favor of Trump.  Now the polling shows the Double Haters favoring Biden by 29 points.  But his only political game plan seems to demonize his opponent.  That will not get the job done because if the voters dislike Trump and dislike Biden, a strong majority is going to vote for Biden.  What Trump really needs to do is to somehow make himself more likeable to the public and appear more competent and up to the job.  

BIDEN'S LEAD IS BIGGER THAN HILLARY'S:  While Hillary Clinton at times had pretty sizeable national poll leads, Clinton trailed in a number of battleground states throughout the campaign.  Biden though leads in all the battleground states, and is running even with Trump in several other states, such as Texas, Iowa, Ohio, and Georgia, which were previously chalked up as easy Trump wins.  Even solidly Republican states, such as Montana and Missouri, are single digit races.

COVID-19:  As much as Trump would like to wish the virus away, it isn't working.  The most recent poll faults him by a 2-1 margin for his poor handling of the pandemic.  When we go to vote in November, there may be as many as 200,000 Americans dead from Covid-19.  That's not going to be a good thing for the incubment.

There are a number of OTHER things I could got into.  Trump is losing his money advantage as Biden has Democrat has outraised him the last two months.   Plus, Trump seems to have no plans for a second term, and his only play is demonizing Biden.  But the "Sleepy Joe," "Dementia Joe" nicknames have not borne fruit, nor has the attempt to link Biden to China.  Nonetheless, as I've said previously, demonizing Biden won't win the Election.  Trump needs to make people like him, make people think he is a competent and fit President.  That could happen, but it's not likely.

Believe the polls.  Trump may not lose the election on November 3rd, but he is certainly losing as of July 13, 2020.


Some short OOP's:

TEXAS:   Yet more polling out of Texas indicating the Lone Star State needs to be elevated to the status of "swing state."   Texas has 38 electoral votes and will have even more after the 2020 census.  It's hard to see how Republicans win the White House without Texas.  Unlike Florida and Ohio, once Texas falls to the Democrats, it may be some time before Republicans win it back.

INDIANA ATTORNEY GENERAL'S RACE:   Former Secretary of State and former congressman Todd Rokita narrowly beat out Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill for the AG nomination at the GOP's virtual convention..   I have mixed views on the development.  I soured on Hill prior to the 2016 GOP convention, long before the sexual misconduct allegations.  Hill's ridiculous prosecution of a felony murder case involving teenage burglars (one of which was shot by the homeowner,  his view that we need to more aggressively go after marijuana offenses, and his using his position to try to intimidate a reporter who was writing a story Hill did not like, was a bridge too far for me.  Nevertheless, I don't have warm feelings for Rokita either.  His pledge to be a Trump sycophant in his failed attempt to win the 2018 Senate race, was a huge turnoff.   I think the AG's race in Indiana is likely to be close.  I give Rokita maybe a 65% chance of winning, which really isn't that high.  By comparison, I would say Governor Holcomb is at about 90% at this point.

REDISTRICTING:   For the last ten years or more, the Democrats have been vocal supporters of redistricting reform, including taking the process away from the politicians.  The Democrats though captured control of a number of legislative chambers in 2018 and ousted a number of governorships held by Republicans.  Now, in 2020, Democrats are on the verge of taking over several more chambers, including possibly in Arizona, Texas, North Carolina and Michigan.  Look for Democrats to change their minds on redistricting reform as they start gaining more and more control of state governments.


Anonymous said...

I am not a grammarian. However, the poor grammar in your article detracts and distracts from your premises.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Thanks, Anon 3:10, I'll be sure and return the first place award I received from the Indiana Society of Professional Journalists.