How the Polling Data is Better for Trump than You Think

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Even though the polls were massively wrong in the leadup to the 2016 election, the nation will be increasingly obsessing over them as November approaches. There are a lot of devils in the details of how a poll is conducted, from how representative the sample is to what the questions asked actually mean.

Mainstream polling shows a tight game

One leading pollster, Zogby Analytics, has published this report:

Right now President Trump is trailing former Vice President Joe Biden 44% to 40% in our latest Zogby Analytics presidential poll. In third place is Libertarian nominee Dr. Jo Jorgensen (5%) and in fourth place is Green Party nominee Howie Hawkins (2%). 9% of likely voters surveyed were not sure.

President Trump was beating Biden in the east (Trump leads 43% to 41%) and south regions (Trump leads 44% to 37%), while Biden was beating the president in the all important Central Great Lakes (Biden leads 48% to 38%) and western regions (Biden leads 50% to 34%). Joe Biden was crushing Donald Trump with younger voters aged 18-29 by more than a two to one margin (Biden leads 49% to 20%), while Trump was winning slightly with all voters over 30 (Trump leads 45% to 42%).

When it came to party affiliation, Biden performed better with Independents (Biden leads 36% to 31%), while each candidate received at least 82% of their respective parties’ support. Interestingly, among Independents, we asked do they lean Republican (71% would vote for Trump), lean Democrat (72% would vote for Biden) or have no lean at all. Among those who said no lean, these are also swing voters, Trump was winning slightly 30% to 28% against Biden.

Biden held healthy advantages among large city voters (Biden leads 46% to 41%), suburban voters (Biden leads 49% to 34%), suburban women (Biden leads 53% to 31%), and suburban parents (Biden leads 45% to 40%), which are groups that will all play a big role in the upcoming presidential election.

Note that here, Zogby is talking about multi-state macro-regions, when what matters are specific states and their electoral college votes, particularly swing states.

The polling data you don’t hear about

 

Trump has a better shot at this than the data above suggests. The RealClearPolitics poll is an average of various other national polls. On the surface, it gives Biden a 9-point lead. Again, the devil is in the details. Going back 80 years, the national polls that RealClearPolitics samples have included two questions. These are ‘Who are you voting for’ and ‘Who do you expect will win.’ The numbers from the first question get all the press, that’s where Biden’s 9-point lead comes from. Here’s the shocker: The response to the first question accurately predicts the outcome 22% of the time, while the feedback from the second question is accurate 78% of the time. Guess what? Trump is leading Biden 55% to 45% in the response to that second question.