How the Polls Predict Trump Will Win

How the Polls Predict Trump Will Win, by David Catron.

Lately, pollsters and pundits have been nervously pondering the following question: “If Trump is behind in the polls, why do most voters say, in the same surveys, that he will win the upcoming election?”

As Harry Enten recently noted at CNN, “An average of recent polls finds that a majority of voters (about 55%) believe that Trump will defeat Biden in the election. Trump’s edge on this question has remained fairly consistent over time.”

This is far more than mere statistical curiosity by number nerds. Several peer-reviewed studies have shown that surveys of voter expectations are far more predictive of election outcomes than polls of voter intentions.

The polls that appear to portend a one-term presidency for Trump actually predict that the president will trounce Biden badly this November. …

Even in surveys like the new Economist/YouGov poll that shows Trump down 49-40 nationally, only 39 percent of registered voters say Biden will beat him. In Pennsylvania, the new Monmouth poll shows Biden trouncing Trump. Yet, when asked who will win, the voters say the election is a toss-up. …

This is what renders conventional election surveys so unreliable. …

This is why few election polls include the dangerous question, “Who do you think will win the upcoming election?” The pollsters know about the research discussed above, they are familiar with the predictive nature of voter expectation surveys, and they know that including such a deadly query will produce accurate results that will enrage their paymasters. They remember what happened to Nate Silver when he dared to suggest that Trump had a chance of defeating Hillary Clinton in 2016. The pollsters and the pundits who write about their findings don’t want to be canceled for telling the truth …

So for now, don’t take so much notice of polls that ask who people are going to vote for, but who they think will win.

But of course, once voters find out about this en masse, they will answer who they want to win for who they think will win — in order to create a bandwagon effect and a self-fulfilling prophecy. So maybe this understanding of the polls will only work for another year or two.