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2020 Election Season Articles

Are We Seeing a Repeat of the Polling from Clinton V. Trump?
July 22, 2020
Everyone remembers when Hillary Clinton had a commanding lead in the polls in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin -- with Wisconsin's election day RCP poll average showing a dominating 6.5 point advantage over Donald Trump. She would lose all three states, with the polls in Wisconsin being off by a staggering 7.3 points. Joe Biden currently shows a 6.0 point lead in Wisconsin in the Real Clear Politics polling average. This raises the question: is Biden that far ahead, or are we seeing a repeat of 2016's forecasting disaster?

Could MSNBC have been more wrong?

To answer that question accurately would require inside pollster information that few have access to, but we can at least assume that the polling outfits are going to conduct more polling in the rust belt than they did in 2016. Some of 2016's inaccuracy was from a simple lack of polling in the (presumed-to-be-safe) states where the largest upsets were, and that is unlikely to be repeated this cycle. The polling error resulting from bad sampling, however, is likely to repeat - as the polls that disclose their sampling methodology show little change from 2016, and tend to oversample Democrats and generally do a poor job of distinguishing registered and likely voters.

The other question that is circulating in the forecasting community is "does Trump have secret voters?" These are voters who do not indicate support for Trump publicly or to pollsters, while fully intending to vote for the President. Nate Silver's 538 definitively states that this is an impossibility, and also stated that conclusion almost immediately after the 2016 election. For a forecaster who missed 2016 by five key states, and over 90 electoral votes they seem a tad overconfident in drawing this conclusion. Amidst a peaking cancel-culture, riots, doxxing, and targeted threats it's probably safe to assume that there are more than a few people who play their Trump cards close to the chest. If you lived in a deep-blue urban area, would you put a Trump sign in your yard? Even if it's just a point or two in the polls, that's enough to draw some of these races within the margin of error and dead-heat territory. Speaking of dead heats...

ElectoralMap.net's Favorite Tied Electoral College Scenario

Suppose that today's polls in the rust belt states are corrected for 2016's polling error. Currently, Trump would still lose Pennsylvania and Michigan, but would win Wisconsin. This presents an interesting possibility for an Electoral College tie, if President Trump were to also lose his single electoral vote from Maine's split vote. This scenario, however unlikely, could get extremely interesting...and messy. The issue of faithless electors (electors who do not cast their vote as the state did) would go from a historical curiosity to a profound historical event. In 2016 there were seven electors who cast their votes for someone other than the winner in their state - more than enough to throw a close, let alone tied, election into chaos. Supposing that neither candidate crossed the 270 threshold, the election would then turn to the newly elected House Of Representatives which would convene immediately and cast one vote per state, with a majority of states being required to declare a winner. The process from that point forward generally favors Republicans, but this would definitely be in the realm of the strange where anything could happen.




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