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The election dashboard flashes yellow for Biden

A slew of new polls has come out over the weekend. Although they don’t indicate the Democrats should panic, they should be moving to yellow alert.



A slew of new polls has come out over the weekend. Although they don’t indicate the Democrats should panic, they should be moving to yellow alert.

In deciphering the data coming out, each election cycle poses challenges when reading between the lines. In 2016, pollsters missed the divide between white non-college-educated and white college-educated males, with the latter making up a significant portion of Trump’s base. Although many are quick to dismiss the pollsters are egregiously wrong in 2016, the reality is most pollsters came within the margin of error. In the four key states that gave Trump the win, the margin of victory was narrow.

The so-called firewall state for Biden shifted back to Nevada over the weekend, while it has remained South Carolina for Trump. We consider a firewall state a state where there is a 90% or better chance that the state will go to a particular candidate. Any state “left” or “right” of that state (depending on the political leanings) is a lock unless something incredible and unforeseen happens.

Although several bad polls out of Texas battered Trump, and early voting numbers there are massive and giving Biden a considerable advantage, the latest Sienna/NYT poll has Trump up by 4 this morning. Trump grew his tenuous leads in Iowa, Georgia, and Ohio over the weekend.

For Biden, the leads he is holding in North Carolina, Florida, Arizona, and Pennsylvania contracted. If there is a repeat of 2016 polling errors, all three of these states would be won by Trump. A couple of polls out of Arizona show a wild swing in the Kelly(D) vs. McSally (R-I) race. I would consider these numbers suspect as a 13-point swing is hard to process with no apparent event in the race to support it.

Another point of concern with Democratic strategists is the Biden team is turning their focus to Texas and Georgia, believing they can flip these states. Some see this as a repeat of 2016 and want the Biden campaign to prioritize defending the lead in the rust belt states and Pennsylvania while working on flipping Iowa and Ohio.

For Biden supporters, they shouldn’t be hitting the panic button – yet. Biden holds an aggregate national lead of 8-1/2% to 10%, which is significantly larger than Clinton at this same point in 2016 (5.6%) and well outside the margin of error. Additionally, one factor that pollsters may not be correcting enough for is the dwindling number of likely voters who are willing to respond to a poll and haven’t voted yet. Some models predict 100 million Americas will have voted before election day, which is close to 80% of all the votes case in 2016. Are the polls over counting the people who haven’t voted yet, leaning more toward Trump? Pollsters are undoubtedly aware of this and adjusting their models, but do they have a reliable baseline to use?

Regardless of your political affiliation, the most critical thing you can do is vote and vote early. With officials concerned about election day violence, voter intimidation, and ballot boxes burned in numerous cities, there is sure to be manufactured chaos on election day. If you want your vote to count, then do it early this week if possible.

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