Pollsters and pundits have been embarrassed again as US President Donald Trump and his Republican Party have performed much better than forecast, riding on what appears to be support from first-time voters. A look at predictions for the 17 swing states and the national popular vote shows they were significantly off in nine of these states, and nationally.
Trump is either tied or within a point or two of Biden in many battleground states, and Biden is nowhere near the 6-10% lead that most polls gave him.
Trump has recorded around 66 million votes in the nationwide popular vote, a 10% increase from the 60 million he got in 2016. Biden tops him with 68 million votes, also a record for Democrats, but it’s not the 10% lead polls had forecast.
While pollsters said they had factored in the “shy Trump voter” who caused them to go wrong in 2016, it appears this time they did not account for the young, first-time rural voters, among whom Trump is apparently a cult figure.
In Pennsylvania, where the average forecast was that Biden would win by 1.2 percentage points, Trump was leading by 11.5 percentage points. Given Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral college votes, this was of immense significance.
In Texas, Ohio, Georgia, North Carolina and Iowa, the polls underestimated the extent of Trump’s lead. In Florida, what they saw as a narrow Biden lead turned out to be a relatively comfortable win for Trump. In Michigan, the predicted comfortable win for Biden came up against a narrow lead for Trump in the actual results. But the polls also underestimated Biden’s wins in Colorado, Arizona and Minnesota.
Likewise, the pre-election surveys are off the mark in elections to the US House of Representatives and the Senate, which the Democrats were expected to seize control of with increased majorities.