Presidential Poll Reversals / Likely Voters Analysis

Presidential Poll Reversals / Likely Voters Analysis July 23, 2016

Original title: “Past Presidential Polls Mid-Race and Contrary Outcome in November”

Kennedy-Nixon Debate

John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon taken prior to their first debate at WBBM-TV in Chicago: 26 September 1960 (Asociated Press) [public domain / Wikimedia Commons]


[I originally posted this about a month ago (6-24-16) on my Facebook page. Presently I will simply add some recent polling indications for the general election and battleground states that show Trump now even or ahead] 


1960 August / September: Kennedy: 44% / Nixon 50%
Election Result: Kennedy wins 50-50

1968 July: Nixon 35% / Humphrey 40%
Election Result: Nixon wins 43-43

1980 June / July: Reagan 32% / Carter 39%
October: Reagan 39% / Carter 45%
Election Result: Reagan wins 51-41

1988 June: Bush 38% / Dukakis 52%
July: Bush 37% / Dukakis 54%
August: Bush 42% / Dukakis 49%
Election Result: Bush wins 53-46

1992 July: Clinton 40% / Bush 48%
Election Result: Clinton wins 43-37

2000 September: Bush 41% Gore 51%
October: Bush 40% Gore 51%
Election Result: Bush wins 48-48

2004 June: Bush 43% Kerry 49%
July: Bush 45% Kerry 50%
Election Result: Bush wins 51-48

2008 September: Obama 44% / McCain 49%
Election Result: Obama wins 53-46

2012 July: Obama 46% / Romney 46%
August: Obama 45% / Romney 47%
October: Obama 46% / Romney 49%
Election Result: Obama wins 51-47

Hence in 8 out of 14 elections since 1960 (57%), and five of the last seven, the person five points or more behind in the middle months actually won the election. Obama was 3 behind in October and won by 4 points. Only in 1996, of the last seven elections, was the actual winner consistently ahead all along.

So I think the anti-Trumpist plans to 1) start a revolution, 2) make complete asses of themselves at the convention, 3) leave on the next trip to Mars, or 4) engage in a massive Kool-Aid suicide, are quite historically shortsighted and rather silly. Trump is far more likely to win than lose, if six of the last seven elections are our guides.

Trump is only 6 behind, according to the Real Clear Politics average of the last five major polls. He’s in great shape, then. In June 1980, Reagan was 7 behind; in June 1988, Bush Sr. was 14 behind; in June 2004, Bush Jr. was 6 behind. They all won, and somehow I don’t recall massive hysteria and frantic rhetoric about any of them, with threats to kick them off the ticket, lamentations that western civilization (or the GOP) has now collapsed, etc., etc.

As they say, we never learn from history . . .

All figures are from the Wikipedia article: “Historical polling for U. S. Presidential elections”


Addendum from 7-23-16:

It’s known that polls of likely voters (especially as the election draws closer) are more indicative of results than polls of registered voters. The reason is that “likely voting” is an indication of turnout, which is key in every election (particularly in 2012). What do we see in recent polling of likely voters, according to the collection of polling data compiled at Real Clear Politics?:

Rasmussen Reports: 7-18-16 to 7-19-16 (1000 LV): Trump 43 Clinton 42

LA Times / USC: 7-14-16 to 7-20-16 (2050 LV): Trump 43 Clinton 43

Rasmussen Reports: 7-12-16 to 7-13-16 (1000 LV): Trump 44 Clinton 37

Rasmussen Reports: 7-5-16 (1000 LV): Trump 42 Clinton 40

Rasmussen Reports: 6-28-16 to 6-29-16 (1000 LV): Trump 43 Clinton 39

Now, the objection will be: “well, that is mostly one polling outfit.” True, but in any event it is the data we have for likely voters, according to major pollsters, and at least one other polling firm shows the race tied. Using the Real Clear Politics method of averaging the most recent five polls, but restricting it to likely voters, the polling average since June 29th is: 

Trump 43% Clinton 40.2% [2.8% lead for Trump]

If we look at some of the crucial “battleground” states and likely voters in the most recent polls, we find this:

Florida (JMC Analytics: 7-9 to 7-10): 700 LV: Trump 47 Clinton 42

Ohio (Suffolk: 7-18 to 7-20): 500 LV Trump 44 Clinton 44

Iowa (CBS News / YouGov: 7-13- to 7-15): 998 LV: Trump 40 Clinton 39

Virginia (Hampton University: 7-6 to 7-10): 805 LV: Trump 39 Clinton 39

Clinton is ahead in Wisconsin, New Hampshire, and North Carolina. We have no recent likely voter data from Pennsylvania. So Trump is tied or leading in four out of seven battleground states, as indicated by polls of likely voters.

If anyone thinks that this election is a “slam dunk” for Hillary Clinton, I submit that they have very little idea what they are talking about. This is at worst (from where I sit as a Trump voter) a tight contest, and at best, Trump’s to lose, on the basis of many important factors that I have written about in my past analyses.

Note: See many other articles about Donald Trump and the 2016 presidential campaign on my Political, Ethical, & Moral Issues web page (2nd section).


Meta Description: In 8 out of 14 elections since 1960 (57%), & five of the last seven, the person five points or more behind in the middle months actually won.

Meta Keywords: 2016 presidential campaign, American politics, American presidential election, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, presidential polls, historic polling in presidential races, political polls, Gallup, Rasmussen

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