Monday, July 20, 2020

What Are The Voter Expectation Surveys Telling Us?

David Catron at The American Spectator has a very interesting article--Why the Polls Predict Trump Will Win. You may have noticed that included in some of the stories about recent polls, usually buried toward the end, is the information that most voters expect Trump will win reelection in November--despite what the results of the polls actually say. It seems that that expectation has been shown to be highly predictive. More predictive than voter preference polls or models:

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. 

According to Professor Andreas Graefe of Ludwig-Maximilians-Universit√§t M√ľnchen (LSU Munich), these citizen forecasts are “the most accurate method that we have to predict election outcomes”:

Across the last 100 days prior to the seven elections from 1988 to 2012, vote expectation surveys provided more accurate forecasts of election winners and vote shares than four established methods (vote intention polls, prediction markets, quantitative models, and expert judgment). Gains in accuracy were particularly large compared to polls. On average, the error of expectation-based vote-share forecasts was 51 percent lower than the error of polls published the same day.

There's more at the link.


  1. If "pollsters and the pundits who write about their findings don’t want to be canceled for telling the truth", it's likely that poll respondents fear more being cancelled if they say they'll *vote* DJT, than if they *predict* his beating Biden.

  2. As Niels Bohr said (often attributed to Yogi Berra), "prediction is difficult, especially about the future."

    I hope that President Trump wins re-election. Whatever his shortcomings, at least he's not dedicated to destroying America. But our country's enemies -- and I do not use that term lightly -- will deploy all of their considerable assets to defeat him.

    Even if he wins by a spectacular margin, the party line will say he's illegitimate because he cheated. If he wins by a narrower margin, they'll get one of their corrupt judges to issue an injunction. And of course the useful idiots will flood the streets. Antifa will commit more acts of terrorism.

    If he loses -- well, in different ways, it will be even worse. I suspect that Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer don't believe a word of the nonsense they're spouting, but a lot of their followers do, and a lot more of their followers don't believe anything in particular but have an excuse to destroy. We need to be ready for that.

    1. Both parties likely see, that whichever party loses this election, will be effectively destroyed as a national political force.
      If Dems win, antiFa, BLM, gangs, the DS, etc., will use all available means, to *destroy* all effective opponents, at first piecemeal, later in "wholesale" segments.

      If GOP wins, Barr/ Durham will have 4 years, to use authentic legal means, to massively clean Beltway etc. house, likely leading a slew of Big Ed, Big Biz etc. rats, to desperately flee the Dem party.
      So, yeah, the Left will need to pull out all stops, to sabotage/ delay Barr/ Durham.
      This one is for all the marbles.

    2. Yes, a Biden win will be worse in so many ways already commented upon ad nauseum, but here's another aspect: if there is any evidence that the Dimocrats got Biden (or Cuomo) over the top by cheating, conservatives will finally know, irretrievably that their ballot no longer matters and ,hence, political parties no longer matter. Which leaves, historically, bullets. The Dims might have to stand up a token opposition party just to give their future dictatorship a patina of legitimacy.

  3. From J.H. Kunstler today:
    "... the failure to resolve the dishonest operations of RussiaGate is a big part, of what drove authority and *responsibility*, those two sentinels of sanity, AWOL.
    The crimes of officers in the FBI, DOJ, CIA, and other agencies go unadjudicated, while clear evidence of their seditious misdeeds has been publicly documented, and widely published.
    It seems as if this great matter, of attempting to overthrow the president, has come down to the sheer will of William Barr and John Durham daring to ignite the engines of consequence, and you wonder if they have *any idea*, how their *stalling damages* the national psyche."

    From .

    1. And, from Taibbi today (in "The Left is Now the Right"), a real step for him, given his long history with the Left, which, he now concedes,

      "has the bureaucratic *juice*, to shut down mass media efforts to ridicule its thinking. These are the same pontificating, stereotyping *busybodies* Republicans *used to be*, only this time, they’re *winning the culture* war."

      This is the sort of movement we need to see, for moderate liberals to face music, as to what the Left has become.

  4. Another of Taibbi's gems from today:
    "... the political right and left in America have *traded* villainous cultural pathologies. Things we once despised about the right, have been amplified a *thousand-fold* on the flip."

  5. I find it interesting that the analysis stops at 2012. I suspect 2016 is an outlier, in that most people, me included, expected HIllary to win. But what does 2016 tell us about the reliability of expectations?
    I have never posted on this site before, Mark, but I very much appreciate your insights on Russiagate and related topics, including your confidence in AG Barr.
    I am also impressed by the quality of the comments of your regular readers, who supply added value to your generally excellent analyses. I have no background in these matters, so I don’t think usually I have anything to add. But I am a political scientist of sorts, who teaches at one of our elite liberal arts colleges. While polling and election data are not my sub field, I am curious about 2016 and what that may portend for the Fall. Maybe you and/or your excellent posters have some thoughts?

    1. Thanks very much.

      I've read that another form of the question runs like this: Who do you think your neighbors will vote for? That's to smoke out "secret" Trump voters, and it apparently worked for one company in 2016.