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Two weeks before election, Dems more nervous than Trump despite polls showing Biden win

WASHINGTON: With two weeks to go for November 3, Election Day in America, every poll — bar one — shows Democratic nominee Joe Biden leading by margins ranging from five points (IBD-TIPP) to 18 points (PRRI) over President Donald Trump. Yet, it is the Biden camp that is sweating bricks. Reason? Democrats are still haunted by Hillary Clinton’s 2016 defeat, when similar leads did not prevent Trump from eking out a narrow path to the White House on the basis of slim wins in three battleground states.
Consequently, the mainstream media is full of reports with headlines such as “Biden lead fuels uncomfortable sense of deja vu for Democrats” even though the challengers’ lead has remained steady over the past month and in some cases even expanded. The polling website fivethirtyeight shows Biden leading Trump by 10.7 points (52.5-41.8) in the latest presidential poll averages. More importantly, Biden leads Trump in crucial battleground states that helped the latter bear Hillary in 2016: Biden leads Trump by 7.9 per cent in Michigan, 6.7 per cent in Pennsylvania, and7.4 per cent in Wisconsin – all beyond the polling margin of error.
Recapturing just these three states, all else being the same, will result in Biden winning the White House. But it turns almost all polls show Biden is leading in several other battleground state, including North Carolina (+6), Arizona (+3), and Nevada (+3). Biden also leads Trump in Florida and Georgia, states Trump won in 2016, giving the challenge many more routes to reaching the magic figure of 270 votes needed to win the White House regardless of the popular vote, which the incumbent could lose by 5 million or more votes this time going by the 10 per cent nationwide lead Biden has.
Yet the sense of foreboding among Democrats is so great that party factotums are warning donors and the rank and file not to take anything for granted and work on the assumption that Biden does not have a double-digit lead shown in the poll of polls. “National polls tell us very little about the pathway to 270 electoral votes. We also know that even the best polling can be wrong, and that variables like turnout mean that in a number of critical states we are functionally tied.” Biden campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon reportedly wrote in a memo to donors over the weekend.
The clue to this Democratic dread lies in the one outlier poll that shows Trump winning – and why Democrats are correct in not counting their chickens. Regardless of the national polls, the Trafalgar Group shows Trump ahead in crucial battleground states such as Florida and Michigan, having developed expertise in ferreting out what is known as the “shy Trump voter,” or what Trump himself calls a “silent majority.” According to Rober Cahaly, the group’s chief pollster, much of Trafalgar’s approach focuses on accounting for the so-called “social-desirability bias” — that’s when a respondent gives pollsters “an answer that is designed to make the person asking the question be less judgmental of the person who answers it.”
Trafalgar also believes that conservatives are generally reluctant to participate in pre-poll surveys, their one-in-five refusal rate higher than liberals who are always ready to make themselves heard. In other words, people who hate Trump are always ready to talk about it, but people who like him and favo him are a more restrained because of the social stigma attached to supporting someone like Trump.
So the group works extra hard to get a fair representation of Trump supporters and conservatives, using a mix of live calls, texts, emails etc., all the while ensuring that such voters are not intimidated or looked down upon. The result, Trafalgar got Michigan and Pennsylvania spot on in 2016 even though all other firms called it for Hillary Clinton, and it now saying Trump could win these two states and also states such as Georgia and Florida that other pollsters are saying is leaning blue.
There is another reason why no one is counting out Trump – it is visual. The US President is attracting big crowds at his campaign rallies that look large and vibrant particularly when compared to the outreach by Biden, who is not doing such crowded in-person rallies with due respect to coronavirus social distancing mandates. Although Trump’s rallies are disapproved by pandemic experts and dubbed by critics as “superspreader events,” they are nevertheless seen in some quarters as indicating the passionate, cult-following Trump attracts from voters.
Although early trends, including ballot requests and returns by registered voters, show Democrats outvoting Republicans in crucial states such as Pennsylvania that Trump won by only 44,292 votes in 2016, the Republican Party has registered 200,000 voters in the state since the last election cycle. Trump Republicans expect many of these enthusiasts to turn up in person on Election Day to overturn the lead Democrats appears to have established in early balloting by nearly 30 million voters, about 20 per cent of the expected turnout.

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