While most polls show the presidential race strongly favoring Joe Biden, President Trump’s supporters are finding solace in the fact that polling showed Hillary Clinton in a similar position four years ago.
Now, Trafalgar Group, the polling firm that correctly predicted then-candidate Trump’s win in Pennsylvania — and more impressively in Michigan — is forecasting that President Trump wins the Electoral College with somewhere in the neighborhood of 275 EVs.
While the rest of the political class predicted decisive victories for Secretary Clinton throughout the Rust Belt, minus Ohio, on Election Day 2016, Trafalgar was the only outlet that accurately put Trump ahead in Michigan. (Hot Air)
Their secret is that they try to adjust for “social desirability bias,” the reluctance of some people to tell pollsters the truth about their preferences for fear of being judged disapprovingly. Robert Cahaly, Trafalgar’s lead pollster, is of the belief that that effect is especially prevalent among Trump voters. If in fact there are a ton of “shy Trumpers” still out there who are lying to pollsters — which many experts doubt — then the polls this year are way off.
Except Trafalgar’s, perhaps. If in fact Trump performs much better on Election Day than the competition expects, and especially if he does well enough to win another term, Cahaly will instantly be the most renowned pollster in America. The rest of the polling industry will never recover its reputation. That’s what’s on the line on November 3, in addition to control of the White House and Senate.
It’s hard to overstate just how far off the beaten path his numbers are relative to everyone else’s, including pollsters that tend to be friendlier to Biden. Trafalgar isn’t just expecting “shy Trump voters” to be a factor. They’re expecting them to be a massive factor:
What’s also interesting about Trafalgar is that they’re always biased toward Trump by about the same amount, unlike Quinnipiac where they do have a handful of polls that are better than the average for Trump. https://t.co/KxJa7WMQJv
— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) October 15, 2020
But don’t get too cocky. Look back again at the numbers above and notice how tight the margins are. A polling miss of two or three points would be perfectly ordinary for any pollster, yet Cahaly’s prediction depends upon him missing nowhere. If Biden fares just two points better in Michigan than Trafalgar expects, he’ll be president. If he’s three points better in Florida and North Carolina, he’ll be president comfortably. And as impressive as Cahaly’s 2016 polling was, he *did* overshoot the mark on Trump in Michigan, predicting a two-point victory in a state the president won by just three-tenths of a point. If Trafalgar’s current Michigan numbers are off by the same margin, Biden would win the White House by the skin of his teeth.
Also noteworthy, the Republican Party is ahead of pace with mail-in and early in-person voting in three crucial swing states, despite expectations early voting should favor the Biden campaign.
As of Wednesday in Michigan, voters had returned 1,317,818 ballots. The returns showed that 40% came from registered Democrats and 40% from registered Republicans. In Wisconsin, 40% of returned ballots came from Democrats, 38% from Republicans. Most encouragingly, registered Republicans in Ohio are outpacing Democrats — 45% to 43% — despite the Biden campaign’s late push there.
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