What 2020s Election Poll Errors Tell Us About The Accuracy Of Issue Polling
Pew Research Center conducted this study to understand how errors in correctly representing the level of support for Joe Biden and Donald Trump in preelection polling could affect the accuracy of questions in those same polls that measure public opinion on issues. Specifically, if polls about issues are underrepresenting the Republican base the way that many 2020 preelection polls appeared to, how inaccurate would they be on measures of public opinion about issues? We investigated by taking a set of surveys that measured a wide range of issue attitudes and using a statistical procedure known as weighting to have them mirror two different scenarios. One scenario mirrored the true election outcome among voters . For this analysis, we used several surveys conducted in 2020 with more than 10,000 members of Pew Research Centers American Trends Panel , an online survey panel that is recruited through national, random sampling of residential addresses that ensures that nearly all U.S. adults have a chance of selection. Questions in these surveys measured opinions on issues such as health care, the proper scope of government, immigration, race, and the nations response to the coronavirus pandemic. These opinions were examined to see how they differed between the two scenarios.
How Do Republicans Feel About Trump
Polling is one indication of Trumps sway over the GOP. By the end of his presidency, he had an approval rating of just 38.6%, and an October 2021 Pew Research poll found that only 44% of Republicans want Trump to run again in 2024.
But his supporters are die-hards, and some happen to be party elites and major GOP donors. Despite Trump’s 2020 electoral loss and two impeachments, his rallies are still highly attended by enthusiastic participants. And, following Trump’s criticism of the Commission on Presidential Debates as biased against him during the 2020 election, the Republican National Committee signaled its plan to require its candidates to withdraw from presidential debates.
As Perry says, He has a solid 30% or so of the American people behind him seemingly no matter what.
For now, Trump is also maintaining strong fiscal support. At the start of 2022, his team announced that its various political committees had amassed $122 million in funding. In local, state, and federal elections, the candidate who spends more money on their campaign tends to win the election. So even though Trump has yet to officially announce his 2024 candidacy, entering with millions in cash would provide him with an advantage, covering major campaign expenses such as staff salaries, wide-reaching ads, and frequent travel to campaign in key areas.
Why Dont Big Differences In Candidate Preference And Party Affiliation Result In Big Differences In Opinions On Issues
Opinions on issues and government policies are strongly, but not perfectly, correlated with partisanship and candidate preference. A minority of people who support each candidate do not hold views that are consistent with what their candidate or party favors. Among nonvoters, support among partisans for their partys traditional positions especially among Republicans is even weaker. This fact lessens the impact of changing the balance of candidate support and party affiliation in a poll.
Theres almost never a one-to-one correspondence between the share of voters for a candidate and the share of people holding a particular opinion that aligns with the opinion of that candidates party. Three examples from a summer 2020 survey illustrate the point.
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Morris told The Post Tuesday the January 6th commission hearings will backfire massively.
There is a fiddling-while-Rome-burns quality to the hearings. Much ado and much distraction about nothing. The more attention the issue draws, the more it becomes apparent that the Democrats are not talking about the concerns that bedevil the average person high prices and inflation at the pump, he said.
Morris likened the Democrats obsession with Trump and the Jan. 6 protests to Republicans in Congress moving to impeach President Bill Clinton over the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal, which hurt the GOP in the 1998 midterm elections because voters thought they made a mountain out of a molehill.
The book also was written before the Supreme Court rulings that tossed out restrictions on concealed guns, overturned the federal right to abortion and scrapped executive power to regulate greenhouse gas emissions on power plants without congressional approval, which could galvanize Democrats to go to the polls.
I do not think any of this terms Supreme Court rulings will have an adverse effect on Trumps chances or those of the Republicans in 22 or 24, he said.
The abortion decision has the most potential impact but, since state laws remain in force, the impact is largely theoretical and when people see how it works out theyll see that very little has really changed.
The Wasted Votes Of California And Other States
In 2016, Hillary Clinton won California with 61.7 percent of the vote, giving her a majority over Donald Trump of 4,269,978. In effect, 4,269,977 of these votes were wasted. Clinton only need a majority of 1 vote, not 4.3 million, in order to win the states 55 electoral votes. This fact is important because as California trends increasingly Democratic, it promises to skew the national popular vote totals more. Nearly a million people in California voted for a third-party candidate in 2016. For the sake of argument, lets say those voters went for Joe Biden this time around. Holding all else equal, Biden would win California with a majority of 5.2 million. Because California is so big, even this modest shift in one state would have a notable effect on the popular vote, increasing the national popular votes to the Democrats by nearly a full percentage point .
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How Is It Possible That Underestimating Gop Electoral Support Could Have Such A Small Impact On Questions About Issues
Why did we choose to test a 12-point Biden lead as the alternative to an accurate poll?
We created a version of our surveys with an overstatement of Bidens advantage in the election to compare with a balanced version that had the correct Biden advantage of 4.4 percentage points. The 12 percentage point Biden lead used in the tilted version of the simulation is arbitrary, but it was chosen because it was the largest lead seen in a national poll released by a major news organization in the two weeks prior to Election Day, as documented by FiveThirtyEight. Several polls had Biden leads that were nearly as large during this time period. The simulation, including the manipulation of party affiliation among nonvoters, is described in greater detail below.
This finding may seem surprising. Wouldnt a poll that forecast something as large as a 12 percentage point Biden victory also mislead on what share of Americans support the Black Lives Matter movement, think that the growing number of immigrants in the U.S. threatens traditional American customs and values, or believe global climate change is mostly caused by human activity?
Do Republicans Really Believe Trump Won The 2020 Election Our Research Suggests That They Do
All credible evidence tells us that the 2020 election was very secure. Experts on both sides of the political aisle, and even President Donald Trumps own Justice Department, have confirmed that 2020 was a free and fair election. Even a Republican-sponsored audit of Arizonas results found no evidence of fraud or malfeasance.
Nevertheless, the vast majority of Republican voters say they agree with Trumps unsubstantiated claims that the election was stolen. In our most recent University of Massachusetts at Amherst poll, fielded online Dec. 14-20 by YouGov among a nationally representative sample of the U.S. voting-age population, only 21 percent of Republicans say Joe Bidens victory was legitimate. This is nearly identical to what we found in our April poll, in which just 19 percent of Republicans said Biden was legitimately elected. Otheruniversities, mediaoutlets and polling firms have found nearly identical results.
How could the big lie campaign convince so many Republicans that Trump won an election he so clearly lost? Some observers wonder whether these beliefs are genuine or just an example of expressive responding, a term social scientists use to mean respondents are using a survey item to register a feeling rather than express a real belief. In this case, it would mean that these Republicans, upset about Biden winning, say his victory was not legitimate even though they know deep down that it was.
What does the evidence tell us?
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Can Trump Win In 2020 Listen To Running Mate Our Us Election Podcast For Brits
Running Mate is a US election podcast just for Brits. In our first episode, we look at whether Donald Trump can win a second term as US president.
The polls do not look good. No surprise, maybe, when more than 170,000 people have died under his leadership, with his handling of the coronavirus pandemic panned by all but his own party.
But Trumps unexpected 2016 election win stops many commentators from writing off his 2020 chances completely.
He thinks that Trumps strategy, to paint Joe Biden as so much worse than himself, is a tough sell.
They just have to show that somehow Joe Biden would be utterly unacceptable, he says. Well, the guy was vice president for eight years when things were relatively good.
Also on the show is Ariel Edwards-Levy, HuffPosts polling editor in the States. While she says 2016 polling shows that unlikely does not mean impossible, Trump is faced with more than just a health and economic crisis.
I do think the issue for Trump this time around, in addition to everything else, is trying to define Biden negatively in the way that he was able to do with Hillary Clinton, she says.
Our third guest is Republican strategist David Kochel, who has worked on the presidential campaigns of Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush. A Trump agnostic, he still thinks it would be foolish to write Trump off.
How Do We Know That Issue Polling Even By The Different Or More Lenient Standards We Might Apply To Them Is Accurate
The reality is that we dont know for sure how accurate issue polling is. But good pollsters take many steps to improve the accuracy of their polls. Good survey samples are usually weighted to accurately reflect the demographic composition of the U.S. public. The samples are adjusted to match parameters measured in high-quality, high response rate government surveys that can be used as benchmarks. Many opinions on issues are associated with demographic variables such as race, education, gender and age, just as they are with partisanship. At Pew Research Center, we also adjust our surveys to match the population on several other characteristics, including region, religious affiliation, frequency of internet usage, and participation in volunteer activities. And although the analysis presented here explicitly manipulated party affiliation among nonvoters as part of the experiment, our regular approach to weighting also includes a target for party affiliation that helps minimize the possibility that sample-to-sample fluctuations in who participates could introduce errors. Collectively, the methods used to align survey samples with the demographic, social and political profile of the public help ensure that opinions correlated with those characteristics are more accurate.
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Trumps Fixation On The Past Puts His Political Future In Limbo
But some Trump allies believe he may ultimately opt against a run, either for health reasons or, if Bidens poll numbers rebound, because he doesnt want to risk a second loss, even though he has yet to acknowledge the first defeat.
So far, a slew of prominent Republicans have begun making overt moves to run in 2024. Whether they will abandon their own White House dreams if the former president were to run again is another matter entirely.
Former Vice President Mike Pence, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Sens. Tom Cotton and Ted Cruz are among those who made appearances in early voting states, and some have started securing top political consultants. Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley has hinted shed mount a bid but wouldnt run against Trump if he decides to enter the race. Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has suggested he may run even if Trump does. And there is Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has emerged as an heir-apparent to Trump and the populist MAGA movement.
Things may be just as uncertain on the Democratic side of the ledger. If Biden opts against seeking reelection, the field may not clear out for Vice President Kamala Harris, who has yet to find her political footing in the role. Two 2020 candidates, Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker , each have held recent high-profile events on hot button election topics.
If Biden opts to seek a second term, a serious primary challenge would be unlikely.
Who Is Trumps Competition
Several names have emerged as possible 2024 GOP candidates, including former vice president Mike Pence, Texas senator Ted Cruz, former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, former Trump administration official Nikki Haley, and Florida governor Ron DeSantis.
A recent Harvard CAPS/Harris poll found that Trump is significantly favored to win the GOP nomination, receiving 57% of the hypothetical votes. DeSantis and Pence came in second and third places, respectively, with 12 and 11% of the votes.
In late December, Biden announced that he intends to run for reelection in 2024, assuming that he is in good health. Incumbent presidents rarely lose their partys nomination, so Biden is the likely challenger to the GOP nominee.
Independent voters and young voters, who turned out for Biden in very high numbers in the 2020 election, are taking an increasingly dim view of the current president: Support of independents who voted for Biden is down 31 points and support from voters younger than 30 is down 28 points from his first month as president.
To regain the support of young voters, Biden must fulfill the promises that he made to young people, says Dakota Hall, executive director of the Alliance for Youth Action, an organization that polls young people to determine which issues are most salient to them. Specifically, Hall emphasizes, young voters want to see the Biden administration follow through on its promises regarding student debt relief, environmental justice, and voting rights.
Joe Rogan Reveals If He Will Ever Host Donald Trump On His Podcast
We refused any payment. Some said that Trump was suspicious of those he paid, worried that he was being ripped off. We felt that by turning down any formal role in the campaign, we could skirt the infighting that raged inside, Morris said.
We also decided, jointly with the president, that the calls and our consulting role should be kept secret. And so it remained for the ensuing seven months.
Morris also chuckled about what he learned about Trump: You cant change his aggressive, forceful personality.
Trump is Trump. Like it or lump it. Hell never change, and I came to realize that his manner could not be divorced from his successful outcomes. Change one, and you would forfeit the other, he said.
He previously said the 2024 contest could be a rematch between Trump and Hillary Clinton.
Trump Needs Another Batch Of Electoral Votes From Contests Where Biden Has Bigger Leads To Put Him Over The Top
If all those states where Biden leads by about 1 to 3 points do end up flipping to Trump but Biden wins everywhere polls show him up by more this is what the map would look like. Trump is still 11 electoral votes short of victory.
So a generalized polling error of 3 points wouldnt be enough for Trump. He also needs to come up with 11 electoral votes from places where Bidens lead is bigger.
Heres the next tier of competitive states, per FiveThirtyEights polling averages on October 28:
- Minnesota : Biden +9.1
The clearest opportunity for a clean win for Trump is in Pennsylvania which is the closest of these states and has the most electoral votes of them.
Trump, of course, won Pennsylvania last time. But polls in 2016 didnt show him behind by as much as he is now.
If Trump loses Pennsylvania, his path to victory is more challenging. Nevada is polling almost as close as Pennsylvania, but its a small state with just six electoral votes at stake, so Trump would need to win somewhere else as well to get the 11 electoral votes he needs.
Winning just Michigan would get Trump over the top, but Bidens poll lead is 8.3 percentage points there. Winning just Wisconsin or just Minnesota would get Trump to 269 electoral votes, but if he doesnt win Nebraskas Second District as well, then the election would be tied at 269-269 and would be decided by the House of Representatives.
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A 10 Percent Chance Isnt Zero And Theres A Chance Of A Recount Too
ILLUSTRATION BY FIVETHIRTYEIGHT / FABIO BUONOCORE
Its tempting to write this story in the form of narrative fiction: On a frigid early December morning in Washington, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that disputed mail ballots in Pennsylvania You know, that kind of thing. But given the stakes in this election, I think its important to be prosaic and sober-minded instead.
So lets state a few basic facts: The reasons that President Trumps chances in our forecast are about 10 percent and not zero:
- As in 2016, Trump could potentially benefit from the Electoral College. Projected than the margins in the national popular vote.
- More specifically, Joe Bidens lead in Pennsylvania the most likely tipping-point state, according to our forecast is solid but not spectacular: about 5 points in our polling average.
- Without Pennsylvania, Biden does have some paths to victory, but theres no one alternative state he can feel especially secure about.
- While a lot of theories about why Trump can win are probably wrong, systematic polling errors do occur, and its hard to predict them ahead of time or to anticipate the reasons in advance.
- There is some chance that Trump could win illegitimately. To a large extent, these scenarios are beyond the scope of our forecast.
- Theres also some chance of a recount or an Electoral College tie , according to our forecast.