• National polls give Biden a substantial lead over President Trump
  • States polls, key to the Electoral College are much closer and closing.
  • Comparisons to 2016 make the contest a dead heat.
  • Trump campaign appears to have the edge in energy and momentum.

Of all the variables in a nationwide election the one that invariably receives the most attention is polling. The limitations of forecasting the decisions of millions from the answers of thousands were amply demonstrated in 2016. The polling results in close contests, which seem so statistically grounded, are in reality determined as much by the modeling choices of the pollsters as by the responses of the electorate.

The crucial factor in the failure of most surveys the last time around was their inability to either find or correctly assess support for the Republican Candidate Donald Trump. This so-called “shy Trump voter' delivered the greatest surprise in American Presidential politics and nothing has been the same in Washington or the nation since.

In five of the six states whose electoral votes gave candidate Trump the White House, his election percentage was higher than his final RealClearPolitics (RCP) polling average. The performance edge ranged from 1% in Florida to 3.7% in Michigan. Only in Arizona were his returns less than the RCP average.

These same six states, Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Arizona and Wisconsin will decide Tuesday's election. In this post we will compare the final RCP averages on Monday evening to President Trump's additional vote from the 2016 election and based on that surmise estimate which candidate is favored to win each state.

Shy voters

Nate Silver, the creator and editor of the well-known polling and analysis website FiveThirtyEight, has said that he does not believe that the shy voter is an appreciable factor in this election.

However, Robert Cahaly, the chief pollster at Trafalgar Polling, the only major outfit to predict Trump's victory in 2016, doing so largely on the basis of their method of accounting for this effect, has said he expects this phenomenon to have an even greater impact on the final vote this year. Trafalgar has again predicted a Trump victory.

It is my own belief that the the problem of unidentified or deliberately misleading Trump voters is real and a factor that must be included in polling estimates, even if its reclusive nature makes accuracy more difficult than normal. Given the the rhetorical and actual violence this year and the numerous and well-publicized cases of people losing their jobs or public shaming for political beliefs and the obvious censorship of news by Twitter and Facebook, logic and emotion suggests an even greater reluctance by voters to reveal their intentions.

A final consideration that we will examine is momentum. In the last election the movement to Trump came in the final days before the vote. To account for that potential shift we will look at the last two polls in each state and see if there is any change in lead or leader from the prior polls. Half the percentage differential bettween the final polls and the earlier surveys will then be added or subtracted to candidates projected total to account for the shift in voter sentiment.

National polls

On election eve Democrat Joe Biden holds a 6.7% lead in the national average with the last poll from Economist/YouGov at 10%, 53% to 43%. This is the smallest advantage since 6.1% on September 29th and is down from 10.3% on October 11th. In a polling record that goes back to September 1, 2019 Mr. Trump has never led and Mr. Biden's smallest edge was 4.5 points last December.

                                                          In 2016 Hillary Clinton the Democratic candidate held a 3.2% lead over Donald Trump on November 7th the day before that election.

State Polls: Florida

The Sunshine State is the most crucial race in the country. Its 29 electoral votes are the largest prize in the swing contests. Earning those electors opens up multiple pathways to the White House for the winner and diminishes the odds substantially for the loser.

In the final pre-election RCP average in 2016 Donald Trump led by 0.2%. He won Florida by 1.2%, giving him a 1% performance edge. We will call that the shy voter advantage.

This year the final average has Biden ahead by 1.8%, so even if Mr Trump again improved his vote by 1% he would still lose the state by 0.8%.

The last two polls have Trump up by 1% each, while the prior six polls show a Biden advantage of 2.8%. How much of that 1.8% polling switch should be counted as actual movement to Trump and added to his likely performance advantage is impossible to determine. We will use half, 0.9%, to represent actual votes, added to the Republican total and Florida becomes the slimmest Trump victory at 0.1%.

If Trump's shy voter and enthusiasm edge is greater than the 1% in 2016, Florida moves progressively farther towards Trump.

                 

Pennslyvania

The Keystone State's 20 electoral votes is the College's second prize. Ms Clinton led in 2016 by 1.9% on November 7, Trump won the state by 0.7%, a gain of 2.6% on the polls. Currently Biden is 2.6% ahead in the RCP average which gives Trump a tie at the performance level.

The last two polls have the Democrat up by 1%. The previous seven give Biden a 2.6% edge. As above using half the difference to measure movement to Trump he wins the state by that amount, 0.8%, slightly larger than his win in 2016.

             

Michigan

Clinton led the race for the state's 16 electoral votes in 2016 by 3.4%. Trump won by the thinnest of margins at 0.3%, a 3.7% improvement. This year Joe Biden is ahead 5.1%, leaving a 1.4% Democratic margin at Trump's 2016 performance.

The final two polls have the Biden advantage at 2.5%, which is a 4% movement from the 6.5% average of four earlier surveys. Using half of that, 2%, as the momentum factor Trumps wins the state by 0.6%, twice his 2016 margin.

North Carolina

Just one electoral vote short of Michigan at 15, North Carolina has Trump with the slimmest of leads this year at 0.2%. In 2016 he led by 1% in the polls but landed at 3.7% in the actually tally, a 2.7% increase. If he adds that margin he wins by 2.9%.

The latest two polls have Trump up by 1%, the prior six had a Biden lead of 0.2%. Half of the difference is 0.6%, which would give the President almost the same victory as 2016 at 3.5%.

Arizona

The southwest state is the only one where Trump's vote in 2016, 3.5%, was less than his final poll average of 4%. This year Mr. Biden lead by 0.9%. If Trump fades 0.5%, he loses the state by 1.4%.

The final two polls have Biden ahead by 1.5%. This is a 0.9% climb from his 0.6% edge in the first five polls. Add half to Mr Biden's and he wins Arizona by 1.85%.

Wisconsin

The Badger State was the biggest numerical surprise in 2016. Ms Clinton seemed to be in command with a 6.5% margin before the 2016 election. She lost the state by 0.7%, a remarkable 7.2% miss by the pollsters. Today Biden leads by 6.7%. Should Mr. Trump again triumph his margin would be 0.5%.

The final polls have Mr. Biden up by 5.5%, a drop of 1.7% from 7.2% in the previous six surveys. Again adding half, 0.85%, to the end tally would give Mr Trump the state at 1.35%.

Conclusion

This post is one attempt to incorporate the intangibles of the 'shy Trump voter' and electorate enthusiasm into the polling predictions. 

If all other 44 states are won by their current polling leaders the Electoral College would stand at 234 for Biden and 203 for Trump with 270 needed to win. This would be the map.

                              Awarding Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin to Trump would give him 293 vote and adding Arizona to Biden would bring him to 243. Trump could afford to lose any of the five except Florida and still win the election.

National polling tends to be skewed by large Democratic majorities in the populous states of New York and California. In 2016 the Clinton margin in the popular vote in California alone was greater than Trump's majority in the rest of the country.

President Trump has been crossing the country in the final campaign days, drawing vast crowds wherever he stops. In 2016 his ability to motivate his voters and their evident enthusiasm was one of the signs that the election was not playing out as portrayed in the polls and the media.

Is the same dynamic on exhibit on display this year and are the chroniclers of the election missing the transformation of the campaign in the final month?  

Please see our other election coverage:

2020 US Elections: The case for a historic Trump defeat, in five quick charts

2020 US Election: Equities in three scenarios

2020 US Elections: Three states tradres should watch, plus places that could provide surprises

2020 US Elections: Handicapping the Presidential Race--polls, registrationand the shy Trump voter

2020 Elections: Seven reasons why this is not 2016, time to focus on the Senate

2020 US Elections: Democrats nominate Biden and Harris--will Trump hatred be enough?

 

 

 

 

Information on these pages contains forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. Markets and instruments profiled on this page are for informational purposes only and should not in any way come across as a recommendation to buy or sell in these assets. You should do your own thorough research before making any investment decisions. FXStreet does not in any way guarantee that this information is free from mistakes, errors, or material misstatements. It also does not guarantee that this information is of a timely nature. Investing in Open Markets involves a great deal of risk, including the loss of all or a portion of your investment, as well as emotional distress. All risks, losses and costs associated with investing, including total loss of principal, are your responsibility. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of FXStreet nor its advertisers. The author will not be held responsible for information that is found at the end of links posted on this page.

If not otherwise explicitly mentioned in the body of the article, at the time of writing, the author has no position in any stock mentioned in this article and no business relationship with any company mentioned. The author has not received compensation for writing this article, other than from FXStreet.

FXStreet and the author do not provide personalized recommendations. The author makes no representations as to the accuracy, completeness, or suitability of this information. FXStreet and the author will not be liable for any errors, omissions or any losses, injuries or damages arising from this information and its display or use. Errors and omissions excepted.

The author and FXStreet are not registered investment advisors and nothing in this article is intended to be investment advice.

Feed news Join Telegram

Recommended Content


Recommended Content

Editors’ Picks

EUR/USD steadies near 1.0550, looks to post modest weekly gains

EUR/USD steadies near 1.0550, looks to post modest weekly gains

EUR/USD has lost its bullish momentum after having climbed above 1.0570 with the initial reaction to the US data in the American session and retreated toward the mid-1.0500s. On a weekly basis, the pair remains on track to close in positive territory. 

EUR/USD News

GBP/USD struggles to hold above 1.2300

GBP/USD struggles to hold above 1.2300

GBP/USD has edged lower following a jump above 1.2300 in the early American session on Friday. The market mood remains upbeat ahead of the weekend with Wall Street's main indexes posting strong daily gains on upbeat US data. 

GBP/USD News

Gold stays below $1,830 as US yields edge higher

Gold stays below $1,830 as US yields edge higher

Gold continues to fluctuate below $1,830 on Friday and looks to close the second straight week in negative territory. Fueled by the risk-positive market environment, the benchmark 10-year US Treasury bond yield is up more than 1% on the day, limiting XAU/USD's upside.

Gold News

Why Cardano could surprise over the weekend

Why Cardano could surprise over the weekend

ADA  set to close out the week with a gain on the workday trading week and over the weekend? Central banks signaled that the rate hike cycle is ending, meaning less stress and tight conditions for trading, opening up room for some upside potential with Cardano set to pop above $0.55 and test a significant cap.

Read more

FXStreet Premium users exceed expectations

FXStreet Premium users exceed expectations

Tap into our 20 years Forex trading experience and get ahead of the markets. Maximize our actionable content, be part of our community, and chat with our experts. Join FXStreet Premium today!

BECOME PREMIUM

Majors

Cryptocurrencies

Signatures