July 16, 2020

Realistic polling results

Realistic polling results? Not so far.  I've been tracking the RealClearPolitics amalgamation of polls for some time now (here, here, here).   I have many problems with the simplistic presentation of an average of the polls to determine state by state winners from an electoral college perspective.

Click to enlarge RCP's take.

As of today, RealClearPolitics has the following polling average results:

Arizona - Biden +2.8%
Florida - Biden +6.4%
Iowa - Trump +1.5%
Michigan - Biden +7.7%
Minnesota -  Biden +16%
Nevada - Biden +4.0%
New Hampshire - Biden +4.3%
North Carolina - Biden +2.0%
Georgia - Trump +3.0%
Ohio - Tie
Pennsylvania - Biden +7.8%
Texas - Trump +0.2%
Virginia - Biden +11%
Wisconsin - Biden +6.0%

Does anyone honestly think that president Trump is ahead by just 0.2% in Texas?  Or that Biden is ahead in Arizona? The polls, and therefore the RealClearPolitics average of polls are incorrect.  The average that many pundits rely on is the wonkiest number ever.  For example the RCP average is lumping in registered voter polls with likely voter polls. That's mixing apples and oranges so to speak.

If the RealClearPolitics average is correct, right now Joe Biden is indeed looking at a landslide win over president Trump. He would have a 333-149 electoral college lead with Ohio and Texas as swing states going neither way but both potentially landing in Biden's column giving him as much as a 389-149 lead or as low as 333-205 electoral college win. That's an absurdity.

On a state by state basis here is what I am seeing:

Arizona: RCP has Trump ahead in only 3 of 23 polls since February 2019, or 2 if 17 polls in 2020.  In the past 45 days, 5 polls were conducted using the (typically) more dependable Likely Voters. Three of them were conducted by the same pollster (CNBC/Change Research) which is a Democrat funded poll. Their polls are typically using too small of a sample size and they do not publish their margin of error.  Take them out and there is a poll showing Trump +4 and a poll showing Biden +5.  My take: Based on the availability of quality polls, the state is undecided in my view. Realistically if Trump loses Arizona, he's lost the election but I personally don't see him losing the state.

Florida: RCP says Biden +6.8%?  No way.  Of the 6 polls since late May in the supposedly swing state, 4 of them are conducted by the same pollster as mentioned for Arizona.  Not surprisingly they have the same issue with their polls as in Arizona. The TIPP poll that had Biden +11% also has a margin of error problem in that they won't publish it, which means their party affiliation ratio in their poll may be skewed also.  I could not check it.  That leaves one poll that is across the board worth keeping - the Trafalgar Group (which is a Republican funded poll).   It has the state as a tie.  My take: The reality is that as usual, at this point, the state is still a toss up.

Iowa: The RCP average has Trump +1.5%. That's probably right but there are 0 polls within the last 45 days that are usable in the state.  The Des Moines Register poll which has Trump +1.  The problem is that it is the only recent poll and to rely on just one poll is not advisable.  My take: Iowa still has to be classified as a toss up just due to lack of data.

Michigan: In the last 45 days CNBC/Change Research polling has been busy stacking the average for Joe Biden (3 of 4 of the most recent state polls definitely skews the average).  There are 4 polls that I would consider; the lastest polls by each of CNBC/Change Research and EPIC-MRA, and one from NY Times/Sienna. The CNBC/Change Research has to drop because they do not publish a margin of error for their polls. The NY Times/Sienna poll is registered voters and has to drop.  That leaves Republican sponsored Trafalgar poll of 1101 likely voters that has Biden at +1% and the EPIC-MRA poll of 600 likely voters that has Biden (no joke) +16%. The latter poll has a margin of error (MOE) of +/- 4%, vs. +/- 3% for Trafalgar.  If EPIC-MRA has Biden at it's most pro-Trump MOE it is still Biden +12%.  And if Trafalgar has it's poll at it's most pro-Biden it is Biden +4%.  Now is it Biden +12% or Biden +4%? My take: It's neither.  The state cannot be called at this point for Biden.  But here's the problem for president Trump, his support in the states does appear to have softened and requires some attention from his campaign.

Minnesota: Every RCP poll in the state is a registered voter poll.  My take: The polls for Minnesota are useless, and there is no data for the state. Because Trump did well against Clinton, I'm going to leave this as a toss-up until data appears.

Nevada:  The latest poll is from January.  My take: The polls for Nevada are useless, and there is no data for the state.  It's probably still a Biden state but there is no data to support the claim.

With just 6 states reviewed so far and I have all of them as toss ups whereas the RCP average has 5 of 6 of them strongly for Biden leaving only Iowa leaning for Trump.  From that Biden 333 electoral college votes I mentioned earlier (if Trump wins Texas and Ohio of the RCP toss-ups) I so far have removed 72 electoral college votes from Biden's column leaving him with 261 and Trump with just 199.  And there's a lot of other states to dissect, likely making both of those electoral college numbers decline for both candidates.

The big takeaway so far should be this - the RCP polls are not relevant yet.  Whether that is deliberate,  an inability to improving polling methods, or some other reason does not yet matter.  So far, nobody is winning.  I'm content to let Democrats and the media think otherwise but not teh American people.  They need to know this race is FAR from over.

Coming tomorrow - New Hampshire, North Carolina, Georgia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin and mt latest overall electoral college numbers.

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