Nate Silver Blasts Trafalgar Polls as "Crazy"

Mish

Trump's supporters cite Trafalgar and Rasmussen polls as why Trump will win. Let's investigate those polls.

Trafalgar and Rasmussen Polls

Trafalgar and Rasmussen Polls

Nate Silver Comments

I'm not a Let's Delve Into The Crosstabs guy, but some of the shit here is just crazy. Trump is not going to win 30% of the Democratic vote in Michigan. Biden is not going to win 25% of Republicans. Trump is not going to win independents by 32 points.

Broader Issue

A broader issue here is with polling firms that behave like partisan shops even though they're nominally nonpartisan. And unlike pollsters who work for campaigns, who are mostly pretty good, a lot of them don't know what they're doing, as @Nate_Cohn says

Counter Replies

More on Trafalgar Silliness

Trafalgar Response - Remove the Cross Tabs

Links to these Trafalgar polls with the dubious crosstabs have gone dead.

My Take

  1. Yes, those crosstabs by the Trafalgar Group are "crazy." 
  2. If Trafalgar stood by them, they should leave them up.
  3. Yes, Silver was overconfident in 2016.
  4. Both Trump supporters and Biden supporters believe what that want to believe no matter how crazy it is.
  5. Trafalgar got lucky in 2016. Trump won because of a last minute Comey bombshell or we would not even be having this discussion.

We will see who is crazy and who isn't soon enough. 

I put my faith in polls on women, those 65 and older, and Trump's miserable handling of Covid.

My Faith is Here

What About Undecided Voters?

I am glad you asked. 

There are not enough this time to matter. For discussion, please see Who are the Undecided Voters and How Many Remain?

This is Not 2016

Please consider my Eight Reasons This is Not 2016. 

I even added a bonus 9th reason, Covid. 

A thoughtful reader added two more: 

  1. Trump ran as an outsider in 2016. He is an insider now.
  2. The Trump campaign is short on cash and had to pull ads in a number of key states. 

I made both of those points before so I accept them.

Bucking Silver 

I don't mind bucking Silver and do so all the time. 

I did in 2016.  

November 2, 2016: Assessing Trump’s Chances With Six Days Remaining.

Without a doubt, the decision by FBI director James Comey to announce the discovery of new emails related to the Hillary Clinton has seriously damaged Hillary’s election chances.

This may hand Trump the victory.

If we only look at the three most recent polls, Trump has a decent chance of winning Michigan.

In fact, Michigan seems to be Trump’s best shot, followed by Colorado, then New Hampshire.

By the way, even Wisconsin is in play. The most recent poll has Hillary with a mere one point lead, on an adjusted basis.

A slew of states are in play. Trump needs just one of them, assuming I am correct that Florida, North Carolina, and Nevada are a given.

Attributing Luck to Skill

Silver's 30% odds of Trump winning were too low and I said so. 

Ultimately, I expected Trump to fail by a state or two. This lead to taunts against me and of course more so against Silver for being "wrong".

Those confident Trump would win in 2016 were mostly lucky, not brilliant (unless they changed their belief because of the Comey bombshell). 

People Don't Understand Polls

Importantly, people do not understand polls or odds based on them.

40% chances happen 40% of the time, by definition. Watch any poker tournament and you will see 10% hands come in. 

That certainly does not make the 10% assessment "wrong".

In 2016, I correctly cited Comey, in advance, not arrears, just underweighted it. 

Lightning Won't Strike Twice

Without Comey, Trump would have lost. Hillary was more despised and that carried the day. 

Trump is more despised today. For numerous reasons (links listed above), I cast my lot with Silver in this election.

Lightning will not strike twice. The Hunter Biden story isn't lightning, it's meaningless nonsense.

Unless Joe Biden dies between now an the election, it's over. 

I reiterate that it's more likely for Biden to win Texas than for Trump to win the election. 

Mish

Comments (169)
No. 1-46
njbr
njbr

Dallas News poll--it's the geezers who want Trump

18-24: +63 BIDEN
25-34: +29 BIDEN
35-44: +4 BIDEN
45-65: +9 TRUMP
65+: +16 TRUMP

Doug78
Doug78

Something like 7% of those who twitter send 74% of all tweets and the same thing can be said of those responding to polls today. Those who answer polls are a vanishing small subset of people who vote. Now that being doxed is a real threat since nothing can remain private anymore I would suggest that people who respond to pollsters are not representative. No matter how you mathematically manipulate the data if the data is garbage the result is garbage. Ten years ago I would answer a pollster. Today I wouldn't dare to because I don't know where my data would end up.

Sechel
Sechel

Trump has lost seniors and suburban women. He's lost about 5% of tradition republicans. He's made some gains with hispanic and black less educated males. It won't be enough. Trump lost the popular vote in 2016 and won many swing states with slim majorities. It's very doubtful he can win. High turnout is usually a negative for Republicans too.

This year's October surprise will be no October surprise. Hunter biden fizzled. And after Borat and tuckgate I suspect Rudy is now benched

Sechel
Sechel

I think Trump wins Texas but I'm far less sure of that outcome than I was a month ago. There is some polling that shows Biden ahead. It will be close

peaunt2020
peaunt2020

umm, I'm a woman who lives in the suburbs - Trump 2020 without a doubt

Jmurr
Jmurr

So are not CNN, MSNBC and all the major networks partisan shops? Every polling shop is partisan.

ColoradoAccountant
ColoradoAccountant

Once you become the President, a second term is yours if you just act like the President of all the people, and not the head of a family business in Sicily. I voted for Trump in 2016 and Obama twice because I am a sucker for promises of change. I threw my ballot (Colorado mails them to us) in the trash. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me 3 times, a lot of shame on me.

Eddie_T
Eddie_T

The main lesson of 2016 was that polls are just polls. Only one poll matters, and that's the one that uses real ballots. And that one only matters in swing states, apparently.

Abolish the Electoral College anyone? For or against, please speak up. My take is that it's one more bad piece of a system that is broken and not likely to get fixed.

EGW
EGW

I don't understand why people pay attention to polls. They are seldom ever accurate.

TimeToTest
TimeToTest

It’s edging closer to a coin flip. Why would anyone expect this to be a landslide?

Like 2016 this one will come down to the wire.

Glassplus
Glassplus

A Trump world vs. a Biden world. Are you saying you prefer to live in Joe’s world? Higher taxes, Paris Accord, probably a carbon tax, a vice-president with the most liberal voting record in the Senate last year, and I could go on. Are you serious? You sound serious. Who got to you?

Reifelman
Reifelman

Trump's not losing TX, he'll also take AZ, FL, GA, and OH; it's going to come down to NC, PA, MI, WI, MN, and NH.

Herkie
Herkie

Mish, internet web polling was basically fairly accurate in 2012, but were off by like 9 points in 2016. Thus no internet polling can now be trusted. The russians figured out how to skew those polls.

There are several pollsters that are so biased that they might just as well make up thier results, and get paid a lot of money doing it.

Rasmussen, Zogby, and a few others, just pay them no attention.

When it comes to polling a few things count, who hired them to do the polls, what is their MOE because that is what it is all about.

I see the raw polls and can compute what I see in my head the same way you and other people can. Raw polling data says Trump may get 40% or a bit more. Maybe he will get 42% of the total vote. Can this make him the winner in the electoral college? Certainly not but even if it could because we have become that polarized the nation will do what Trump says he would do, not accept the outcome.

This is why I am disappointed in you personally. You took the cheap easy way out and said you do not endorse Donald Trump. Yet you did endorse a third party candidate which is your right. Even though you you know for a fact that if Trump wins the US dies. That third party candidate has about the same odds of winning as voters writing in Herkie for president so you decision to not to support Biden is half assed at best. You do not want Trump, you do not want Biden, so you advocate anyone else in essence. Knowing that your vote is meaningless.

I have come to the conclusion that third party votes that have no chance is the path of pussy whiners. You know that one of two people will win the election. And so you do the same thing as not voting when it is your duty as a citizen to select one of the two people no matter how much it breaks your heart to do it. YOU THINK BIDEN IS MY CHOICE? He is not, but I would vote for a ham sandwich before I would vote for a lying criminal homophobe child molesting whore paying off serial bankrupt like Trump. He took your old party and turned it into the Fourth Reich. You may be pissed off about that but you have a duty as a citizen to stop it, you will get another chance in 4 years.

All you have to do to win is provide the people with a nation that is at peace, where prosperity reaches all zip codes, where every child is educated, where healthcare is not a privilige but a right!

You have to see by now that those who belive the second amendment as the far right describes it does not overcome the right to get your kids healthcare without bankrupting you.

We know the Fed is the root of the problem, but you cannot just delete the Federal Reserve Act and think everything will be fine tomorrow. It would end this nation. Our money would be worthless because it would delete the full faith and credit of the USA which is the only thing backing those dollars.

Maybe a few of you were smart enough to pile up a little gold or silver, you will be the first to die when hundreds of millions of people suddenly have no money or income. The only way you will survive owning these PM's is to keep secret you have PM's. So your clever plan means your gold and silver is not a medium of echange after all. You can't use "money" if you cannot admit owning it. If starving people figure out you own it you cannot hire an army large enough to defend it.

TimeToTest
TimeToTest

I watch 60 minutes tonight. Trump is correct he gets the hard questions and more than anything, they demand answers. I respect this and think this is the way journalism should be done.

Biden on the other hand was as always thrown soft balls. The biggest question that needs answering is “did you are your family except money from foreign counties? If so what countries? “.

They spent 60 million dollars investigating everything about Trump but people still talk about how corrupt he is. Either Trump is that smart or Muller and team was that incompetent. What do you think a Biden investigation would turn up?

Maybe at least he should answer those two simple questions. I think the election might ride on it.

Kimo
Kimo

"Trump won because of a last minute Comey bombshell or we would not even be having this discussion." According to Scott Adams, Comey provided an excuse for what most voters were planning to do, anyway. Without Comey, most would have found another excuse, like "I can't stand Hillary."

MikeMacleod
MikeMacleod

Mish,

I wouldn’t dismiss the Hunter harddrive. You have to realize, for any candidate there’s multiple groups which are voting for them. People who are hard-core for the candidate, people who are hard-core against her challenger, people who are soft-core for her, and people who are soft-core against her candidate.

The emails probably caused a lot of people to drop from those last two. They had, up until then, put her “corruption” in their rearview mirror, suddenly they were reminded of it and decided to switch or, more likely, not vote or go third party.

Biden really isn’t “known” for corruption like Hillary was. Trump’s weak voter are weary because of COVID, lockdowns, unemployment, riots, etc. A lot of them just want it all to end and Biden looks “normal”. The Hunter emails makes him look corrupt, and not in a “violated a federal technicality” way. It makes him look corrupt in a very real way. It will light a fire under millions despite you dismissing it as “nonsense”.

Add to that people in PA who want to change their vote over Biden’s oil industry statement and I predict a Trump win.

Mr. Purple
Mr. Purple

This is starting to feel like Brexit. Where'd Avid Remainer go? Same place Trump Cultists are going on 11/4.

Mish
Mish

Editor

"The biggest question that needs answering is “did you are your family except money from foreign countries? If so what countries? “

In the debate, Biden answered that very straight forward and emphatically such that he set himself up for impeachment if false.

Anyone have a video clip?

ialtman
ialtman

His reply to that question was Clintonesque: "I did not accept one penny..." No. Just millions, LOL!

Mish
Mish

Editor

I strongly disagree with Trump on Iran, Tariffs, Abortion, Trade.

Isn't that enough?

I gave him a chance in 2016. Trump flunked.

Voting for someone you disagree with that strongly is downright idiotic IMO.

ialtman
ialtman

His reply to that question was Clintonesque: "I did not accept one penny..." No. Just millions, LOL!

AndreSmit
AndreSmit

Nate, you are a really a very confused snowflake. Get some sun!!

AndreSmit
AndreSmit

Nate, you are a really confused snowflake. Get out, get some sun.

KidHorn
KidHorn

I think in 2016 the polls were wrong because many people publicly go against Trump and privately vote for him. I think the same is true this year. Even more so. I think the election will boil down to what pct is lying to the pollsters. If it's only 1%, Biden wins. If it's 10%, Trump wins.

rylege
rylege

Trump voters rarely participate in polls. The stigma is far higher now than in 2016 and as a result will not participate in polls or tell the truth. This is something that pollsters have admitted they are struggling with.

kepacoke
kepacoke

Why is Silver relevant and considered the purveyor of all polls that are legit? He was terrible in 2016. Should have redone his methodology but he didn't . Now he blasts Traflagar , Zogby, Rasmuesen? Weren't they correct in 2016? If Trump wins this time 538 is 86.....

Sechel
Sechel

Do the polls adjust for the fact that many have aleady voted?

bkleinhe
bkleinhe

It's weird, I was so certain trump would lose in 2016 I didn't stay up to watch the results. 2020 however seems a no brainer, Trump is everywhere in every town and in every rally. Biden is a ghost. Hell I think he's even going to win Minnesota. The republican vote will / is enormous and the dems, outside of an early voting surge, it's just not there. It's all about turnout and the dems won't have it. Trump 2020 in a landslide.

MazzMan
MazzMan

What Nate Silver is trying to do by criticizing other pollsters is limit his competition. He wants to delegitimize their results even though they've correctly predicted the 2016 and 2018 elections. If he's able to get them "deplatformed" in a way, then he'll be better able to gaslight the election process thereby increasing his political influence.

Being so wrong in 2016 should be an automatic disqualification for future election polling.

JessDorian
JessDorian

Ummm... Nate's credibility went out the window in 2016. Pretty much all pollsters' credibility did. #KAG2020

DanP66
DanP66

Mish-

I think that the difference this year is this...

  1. The shy Trump voter is very very real and not small in number. I'm one of them. I work in the IC for the federal government. NO WAY I am going to let anyone I work with that I do NOT KNOW for a fact is a Trump voter that I am voting for him. 4 yrs ago, I had a Trump sign in my yard and a bumper sticker, so did my next door neighbor. After the last 4 yrs of being hounded and called racist, homophobic, hate women, after all the people who have supported Trump have been fired from jobs. NO FREAKING WAY! I just wait to vote. WERE I to be called by a pollster, I would lie. Two reasons. First, I do not trust that the data will be confidential. Second, it serves my purpose to have the democrats be over confident so they do not feel obligated to vote.

  2. I'm going to bet that Trump gets a larger share of the black vote than any republican in modern history. There is a rebellion going on in the black community and it is linked to being taken for granted by democrats with no results they can see. It also has to do with the fact that black voters are more conservative than people think and the hard left turn of the democrats scares them and scares a LOT of Latino voters who came from places like Venezuela and Columbia. My black male friends are either not voting or voting for Trump. Of course they are all veterans...so..they might lean republican anyway.

  3. Biden blew PA when he talked about oil and fracking at the second debate. That is gonna lock down Ohio for Trump and TX too. He also choked by not answering about whether or not he would pack the court. The people craving a return to "normal" are terrified of that.

  4. The Biden laptop scandal has legs. It is very real and it is all over the place. Stupid Twitter and FB and MSM downplaying it and hiding it just made the story bigger. THAT IS gonna hurt Joe Biden. Nobody is going to believe he did not know even if he did not directly participate. It is exactly the kind of thing that Biden cannot afford because he is running on his character.

  5. The riots in Wisconsin are going to put Trump over the top in that state. The iron range pretty well swapping to republican from democrat will certainly help.

No...I think Trump is going to win the electoral college.

mhughes5656
mhughes5656

So I take it Mish is voting for Biden.

MikeMacleod
MikeMacleod

OK LOOK, I’m a statistician. I love the idea of collecting a whole lot of data, feeding it into a sophisticated algorithm, and making world-changing inferences from it.

But I’m also a biologist (biochemist) and I know that a human, and systems which arise from humans, is an infinitely complex system. That the more you try to grasp said systems, the more you try understand them in their entirety or in their minutiae the more that understanding will slip through your fingers. And just when you think you have a clue about biological system, said system will fuck with you and throw you a curve ball.

So don’t get lazy and trust only in the polls this election season, or the aggregates. We are going through some unprecedented events right now, multiple, large, and world-changing events. COVID, the lockdown, violent riots a level we’ve never seen, political assassinations in broad daylight, social media acting like Big Brother and censoring one political party, etc. etc. etc.

If you think our models and methods which were designed for a different, calmer, and more sane time won’t need to be adjusted in major and unexpected ways, you’re a fool.

What does this mean? Don’t trust the polls.

RonJ
RonJ

"We will see who is crazy and who isn't soon enough."

Yes we will.

RonJ
RonJ

"Lightning Won't Strike Twice"

Never say never. Even James Bond learned that.

coalerXX
coalerXX

Lol, I can'T wait to see all the faces when Trump unexpectedly wins. Trump is drawing such massive rallies whereas Biden is hardly getting any spectators. This is Trump country and CNN, NBC etc are all partisan as well. One more week and we will all be smarter!

coalerXX
coalerXX

Yeah, of course and no word on the "most extensive and most inclusive voter fraud organization". I get it! YOu are completely non-partisan ;)

JustRightOfCenter
JustRightOfCenter

I think the enthusiasm for Trump is the difference in a tight race. And I think Trump has a larger piece of the black vote than he did in 2016. Also, the "Transition away from oil" comment by Biden will make a noticeable difference in Pennsylvania, which could have gone either way, and this has to factor in there now. It's Groundhog Day in November.

5LeafClover
5LeafClover
 I would like to see more detailed info about the findings of the Trafalgar polls. Lets' look at more states not just a few cherry-picked states.  Also today's stock market crash is likely to shift sentiment more against Trump and the GOP.
Sechel
Sechel

Trafalgar is a Republican pollster whose goal is to pretend that Donald Trump is ahead of Joe Biden in every single important state. Trafalgar relies on the fact that they were accurate in Michigan in 2016.

5LeafClover
5LeafClover
I'm trying to get some comprehensive information about what all Trafalgar said in 2016, 2018, 2020 shortly before the elections and what all they hit or missed. I don't want to see anything other than definite numbers that I can compare with actual election results. The opinions of various "experts" mean nothing to me. Only definite numbers that I can compare side by side with actual election outcomes to see how many hits and misses there were. 
emptycross
emptycross

There is no Comey like thing but we do have the arch-conservatives threatening to flip the Roberts/liberal justices approved late ballot measure in PA if Biden wins a close enough election and give it to Trump. They were so clear on this the Dem governor of PA instantly urged Dems and like-minded independents to drop off their ballots immediately instead of mailing them. Friday and Saturday a total of 144,340 Dems responded and dropped off their ballots (in person voting is now closed but drop boxes are open) which are now marked received by the SecState. 144,340 votes that could have been eventually invalidated if the Arch-Conservatives later uphold the GOP appeal. I only post this here to point out that the Supreme Court could end up making Trafalgar right on PA, even if they have to steal it from Biden. Would Trafalgar accept an "asterisk"?


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