There is so much poll noise going on right now it is close to impossible to hear the music. Take a moment to turn the volume down on the RealClearPolitics average and take a closer look at the polls published by The Trafalgar Group because they are the ones who hit the nail on the head in 2016.
Survey Says …
For those unfamiliar with Trafalgar, here’s a quick recap: These people don’t believe in national surveys, so they don’t do them. Instead this relatively new pollster digs deep into individual states. This echoes what former White House adviser Kellyanne Conway did in 2016. Many know Ms. Conway from her White House days, but her longtime profession is as a pollster. Whenever she’s interviewed on television, Conway makes the point that national polls are rubbish. So, averaging them out – as RCP does – only gives you an average of, well, rubbish.
Robert Cahaly of Trafalgar agrees. So, when you hear that Joe Biden is ahead by 11 or 12 points in a national poll, you are better off hitting the mute button and surfing on over to Trafalgar to find out what is actually occurring. Cahaly and company are very particular about their samples. They consult statewide election boards to get their hands on the actual voting rolls. They also investigate the demographics of these likely voters. For instance: Trafalgar looks to see whether their selected voter has a hunting or fishing license. This tells them a bit more about who they are sampling. They work hard to find conservative voters to even the sampling size because conservatives, according to Cahaly, are “five times more likely to refuse to participate in polls.”
One could say Trafalgar is playing Sudoku while everyone else is playing word search. So, here’s an unvarnished look at Trafalgar’s latest swing state surveys. (Leaders are in red.)
1 – includes 3.3 for Kanye West
2 – includes 1.0 for Howie Hawkins
3 – includes 0.8 for Howie Hawkins
4 – includes 0.4 for Howie Hawkins and 0.2 for Don Blankenship
5 – includes 1.0 for Howie Hawkins
Perhaps now you can see why the candidates are spending their final days campaigning in Florida. Although President Trump still has the lead, it is very tight in this must win state. The same is true in Wisconsin. Trump leads in Pennsylvania and Michigan but not by much. Mr. Biden might as well forget about Arizona and Ohio, as should Donald Trump in Minnesota.
So, there you have it folks – your cheat sheet for Election night 2020. Print it out and keep a copy by your side, or perhaps use it for a friendly office pool wager. Either way, this information should keep you from being surprised as the returns come in – and it may even help you to ignore the television announcer’s hyperbole.
Read more from Leesa K. Donner.