So these guys are throwing their own poll straight into the fire on the eve of the election, huh? As any Trump fan knows, the LA Times poll has been more consistently favorable to Trump, and by wider margins, than any national poll in America. The IBD tracking poll will sometimes have him ahead (he’s up 43/41 today) and Rasmussen’s daily numbers are usually Trump-friendly (although he’s down 45/43 this morning), but if you want a pure hit of MAGAMAGAMAGA poll heroin, you know where to go. He’s up 48.0/43.2 this a.m. in the LA Times tracker, outside the margin of error. Either there’s a serious methodological problem with that poll — read this — or Trump’s on his way to a stunning national blowout that literally no pollster in the United States except the LAT saw coming.
The LA Times’s political guys, David Lauter and Mark Barabak, must be all-in on the “serious methodological problem” theory because you’d never predict a slaughter like this if you believe the LAT poll is remotely accurate. It’s not just that they’re expecting a Clinton victory, it’s the scale of it that’s striking. You would think, if they’re dead set on joining the consensus that it’s Clinton’s race to lose, they’d at least nod to their own survey’s bullishness on his chances by predicting a strikingly narrow Hillary victory. Nope:
We’re giving you our best estimates, based on public polling, state vote histories and the reporting done by our campaign staff, on which way we think each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia will fall this year.
The previous version of the map had five toss-up states. In the end, we’re predicting that three of them — North Carolina, Ohio and Arizona — will go for Hillary Clinton.
Iowa will go to Donald Trump, we expect. So will Utah, where independent candidate Evan McMullin has been threatening Trump, but seems likely to come up short.
Our projection would give Clinton 352 electoral votes, while Trump would end up with 186. That would put Clinton’s electoral majority midway between President Obama’s 2008 win and his 2012 reelection.
As the coup de grace, they expect Ohio and Arizona(!) to tilt blue tomorrow night. Four months of Drudge headlines touting the LA Times poll every day, and they repay him for the traffic by expecting Democrats to be dancing in Goldwater country? Good lord.
There’s a raft of final national polls out this morning from other outfits (although we’re still waiting on the final data from the big one, the ABC/WaPo tracker) that more or less support the LA Times’s electoral map — but with a major caveat. Fox News’s final survey has Clinton up four, 48/44; CBS’s final poll also has her up four, 45/41; Bloomberg’s last one has her up three, 44/41; and the last poll from NBC/SurveyMonkey has her up six, 47/41. ABC/WaPo did have a new tracking poll out this morning, but with another to follow this afternoon: Clinton led this a.m. by four points as well, 47/43. Those results are strikingly consistent, which might lead you to believe that the race has settled and the actual state of play is now showing up across various different surveys. Could be, but read this 2014 Nate Silver post about a bad habit pollsters tend to fall into at the very end of an election known as “herding.” By pure chance, thanks to margins of error, there should be some natural variation in the results among a group of new polls. If X is leading Y by three points in reality and the MOE is three points, you’d expect one poll to have the race tied, another to have X ahead by six, and the others to fall at different points in that range. If instead you’ve got (nearly) everyone showing a three- or four-point lead, that suggests that the pollsters might be afraid of publishing an outlier so close to election day, knowing they’ll be judged harshly for having “missed” the result, and are tweaking their data by playing with turnout models in order to get a number closer to what everyone else has. If that’s what’s happening here, then we’re not really getting independent data. And that calls into question how accurate any individual result really is.
Having said all that, here’s an interesting, but not surprising, result from Bloomberg:
Another brilliant, quintessentially 2016 question here from Selzer. pic.twitter.com/yqAsuG4ZWE
— Phil Kerpen (@kerpen) November 7, 2016
Oh well. As I’m writing this, Monmouth is out with its own final national poll. They’ve been bullish on Clinton all year and this is no exception: Hillary 50, Trump 44, which is in line with the NBC/SurveyMonkey result I mentioned above and is a bit more daring than the four-point consensus in the other polls. Monmouth is an A+ pollster as rated by FiveThirtyEight, as is the ABC/WaPo tracker this afternoon that we’re still waiting for. Stay tuned.
Update: Let me flag something in the NBC/SurveyMonkey write-up, as you’re apt to hear more about it later this week if Clinton wins comfortably tomorrow.
Our results continue to show that campaign news over the past several weeks — including the surfacing of an “Access Hollywood” tape showing Trump making lewd comments about women and FBI Director James Comey’s letter to Congress about its review of additional emails related to Clinton — have had almost no lasting impact on the opinions of likely voters. However, these events may have influenced who is willing to take public opinion surveys at any particular moment.
YouGov published an insightful post about that same topic, “nonresponse bias,” a few days ago. There’s a school of thought out there that this has been a four- or five-point race for months and that many of the swings we’ve seen in the polls are due less to voters switching their votes than simply refusing to respond to pollsters during periods when the news isn’t good for their candidate. In other words, Trump’s actual support didn’t dip much after the “Access Hollywood” tape but the number of Republicans willing to take a call from a pollster during that period might have, creating the impression that he had lost votes in surveys. If Clinton wins by four tomorrow night, there’ll be much more written about that. Was this actually a stable race all along?