I am interested in the polls for a host of reasons, not least because they supposedly got it so wrong in 2016 (they didn’t nationally, though Wisconsin was inaccurate and some other states to a degree) and, if you look at present polls with a squint, they look no different to the Clinton polls and so who is to say that the same thing won’t happen again? As this CNN video hints, lightning could strike twice:
But is this a fair analysis? I’m going to ignore all the murky areas like voter suppression, court challenges and accusations of fraud within mail-in ballot voting.
The problem is, the context from 2016 is not completely comparable to the context in 2020. The 2016 polls got Clinton’s vote right; where they got it wrong in a few key swing states was under-predicting Trump. Or, Trump overperformed expectations for a number of reasons.
First of all, there simply aren’t any undecided voters. It was the undecided voters who switched last minute in much larger proportions to Trump in 2016.
Secondly, there were more well-known and prevalent third party candidates who had attracted more significant numbers of voters, and when these voters switched last minute, they went for Trump in much larger numbers.
Thirdly, the polls in the swing states, and nationally, have been far, far, far more consistent. Indeed, I think they have been the most consistent ever. So where Clinton’s numbers and approval ratings were more fickle and up and down, Biden’s have been robustly solid.
Next, the polls have improved and learnt from their problems of over-representation of educated (holding college degrees) voters and under-representation of uneducated voters.
Finally, in some of these swing states, like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan, the polls were not conducted really close to the election, up to 6 days away, which didn’t reflect in enough accuracy that fickle swing taking place.
This video puts these points across pretty well, showing the difference between 2016 and now:
We know that Biden has stolen a huge section of the white voters over 50s and seniors, which was the core Trump voting bloc. This pretty much represents the big shift. Biden continues to have a massive advantage with women, where Trump suffered last election and continues to do so now.
What’s also interesting (well, for me anyway) is what is going on at grassroots in places like Texas. If you have some time on your hands, watch these four videos with Rachel Bitecofer as she interviews what is going on at the grassroots activist level in, in this example, Texas, particularly in videos 2 (hallway through) to 4. You may not be as geekily and oddly interested in these things as me, but if you are, these are worth having on whilst doing the washing up or something.
and then if you are still wanting more, see this episode along the same lines, again interviewing O’Rourke, from Pod Saves America:
Here, I think, we have an illustration of the difference between the Dems and the GOP, and why in Texas, for example, there is a suppression of down-ballot voting. The GOP probably figure they have missed a trick here, haven’t mobilised (in certainly the way women have for the Dems) and are now behind the curve, so their only option is to attempt to strategically sabotage the vote.
Anyway, I thought this might be of some interest to you; the context is different and, ceteris paribus (suppression, cheating), the poll lead for Biden shouldn’t evaporate in the way Clinton’s did.
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