• Trump Is Betting on YouTube This Time
• Trump Is Going after Harris
• Kevin McCarthy: Trump's War on Absentee Ballots Could Screw Us
• Jeffrey Goldberg: I Stand by My Reporting
• DeJoy May Have Broken the Law
• Barr Is Trump's Lap Dog
• When Will Absentee Ballots Be Processed and Counted?
• Secretaries of State Warn that Election Day Could Become Election Week
• Anita Hill Will Vote for Biden
• Sensitivity of Our Map Algorithm
• Today's Presidential Polls
• Today's Senate Polls
A new national CBS/YouGov poll puts Joe Biden ahead of Donald Trump 52% to 42%, with only 6% undecided or planning to vote for a third-party candidate. That 52% is a scary number for Trump's campaign manager, Bill Stepien. It means that even if everyone else votes for Trump—which is unlikely— Biden still wins the popular vote by 4 points. Having the challenger be above 50% is terrible news for any incumbent.
The poll also shows that any Trump bump due to the convention is already gone. On July 1, Biden had a 9-point lead in the Real Clear Politics average. Now it is even a smidgen higher. Why do we even have conventions if there is no effect at all?
Some other takeaways from the poll are that voters believe:
- Biden will encourage calm in the cities whereas Trump will encourage fighting
- The way to end the protests is police reform
- They'll feel safer with Biden (48% to 43%)
- If Biden wins, Trump voters will worry about the economy
- If Trump wins, Biden voters will worry about the virus
- The election is a referendum on Trump, not a choice between the candidates
- Democrats are voting against Trump, not for Biden
- Biden is +9 with white women (Hillary Clinton lost them)
Perhaps most significant is that Trump is slowly losing ground with white noncollege men. Many of them were really voting against Clinton in 2016, a woman, and one they perceived as arrogant. Biden does not generate that kind of antagonism among white noncollege men. (V)
In 2016, Donald Trump's secret weapon was Facebook. This time it may be YouTube. All campaigns post their ads on YouTube, but Trump's is going way beyond that. The campaign has spent $65 million there so far, half of it since July. In addition, the campaign is urging supporters to upload pro-Trump videos, to get them a wide variety of advertising for free. In August alone, the campaign uploaded 900 pro-Trump videos, vs. just 100 from the Biden campaign.
Digital strategists say this is a good idea because Google's algorithm for recommending videos prioritizes channels that have lots of new content—like Trump's. A study shows that more than 90% of Americans 18 to 29 use YouTube, more than Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat. It is also popular with 25-34 year-olds
Facebook has better targeting options than YouTube, but Democrats have caught up there and Facebook's every move is now dissected. For this reason, YouTube is the new frontier. It is expensive, but the Trump campaign is awash in funds, so that is not a problem. Videos are powerful because they allow the campaign to create its own reality in a way that is not really possible any other way. They can depict suburbs under siege from (Black) mobs, or anything else they want, in order to create a feeling of fear. When reinforced by hundreds of videos, some professionally made and some from amateurs, it can give the impression that the country is in fine shape, except for marauding mobs coming soon to a neighborhood near you. The campaign has reported that its videos have been viewed 509 million times since April.
The Trump campaign is also more digitally savvy than the Biden campaign. For example, the Biden campaign uploaded his convention speech so people can watch the whole thing at once. The Trump campaign cut his into 28 segments, uploaded separately. This allows them to get good data on which parts are shared more so they can make more videos like the popular parts.
Trump's YouTube channel has a million subscribers. Biden's has 173,000. Biden's campaign understands this, and also realizes it can never catch up, so it is trying to do something else: Get other popular channels to put up clips with Biden or Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA).
All of this said, strategists are divided on whether all that money and clever tactics actually brings in new voters. If all you are doing is spending $65 million to tell your own voters how great you are, is that a wise use of resources? For example, during the Democratic primaries, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) crushed Biden on YouTube. A lot of good it did him. What counts is how many votes you get, not how many views or likes you get. But Trump has money to burn, so his campaign has reserved the most expensive piece of digital real estate in the country: YouTube's home page on Election Day. Of course by then, probably two-thirds of the country will have already voted early or absentee and are the people who haven't yet voted going to check YouTube before heading out to the polls? (V)
Recent polling shows that Kamala Harris is the only person on either ticket whose approval rating is above water. Donald Trump is actively working to change that. Not that he needed a reason, but now that she has come out and said that if he announces a COVID-19 vaccine, she won't believe him, he certainly wants to take her down. She is about to come under withering fire. In particular, Trump & Co. are going to try to make her the enemy of the working-class men in the Midwest. They are also going to portray her as a leftist radical, just like Biden, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Jimmy Carter, and every other Democrat, past, current, or future.
It may not be so easy. Trump has spent the summer attacking Biden as a radical socialist. To now say "Wait! Harris is the real socialist who is going to take over and overrule Biden!" may not be very convincing. And if it convinces anyone, it might convince supporters of Bernie Sanders, who have their doubts about Harris. If they hear that she is a socialist 10 times a day, some of them might think: "Hmm, Biden's old and may die soon and then we will have a socialist president. I can live with that."
One area the Trump campaign is targeting is abortion. They are going to "prove" that she is for it. Not hard to do, since there are miles of video tape proving it. But again, they have to be exceedingly careful because those much-desired "suburban housewives" are generally pro-choice and once they realize that Harris is solidly pro-choice, too, it could make the gender gap even bigger.
Another line of attack will be energy. Harris opposes fracking. If the Trump campaign pushes that hard, it might cost the Democrats some votes in the oil patch, but Texas probably really isn't in play this year. On the other hand, when the Sanders supporters hear that she is a socialist who is pro-choice and anti-fracking, all it may do is cause Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins to reset his target to 0.3% of the vote.
Policy aside, history has shown that when men attack women, this angers a lot of female voters just on principle. It has to be done with great finesse, and finesse is not something Trump does. Besides, all he thinks about is his base, so ads that might please the people who are already planning to vote for him but which anger suburban women might be counterproductive in the end. It has to be done with great care. In particular, when Harris gets to debate Mike Pence, it will be interesting to see how he goes about taking her down without antagonizing women. Fortunately, he has a few weeks to make a plan. Their debate is on Oct. 8. (V)
Axios has a scoop that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has warned Donald Trump to stop dissing voting by mail because his words will hurt Republicans. McCarthy told Trump that the consequence of his attacks on mail-in voting is that Democrats will all vote by mail and Republicans won't do that because he told them not to, but they also won't vote in person due to COVID-19. So they won't vote and Democrats will win. McCarthy is especially worried at seniors not voting.
McCarthy has spent hours trying to drum this message into Trump's head, so far with no success. He also has repeatedly told Trump that his message is going to result in many Republicans losing downballot. We will see if Trump ever gets the message, but don't count on it.
Sources have told Axios that Trump keeps harping on how absentee ballots are subject to fraud to provide a built-in excuse for his expected defeat. If all this is true, Trump is expecting that he will lose and is now working on the cover story to explain to his supporters why he lost. Needless to say, most normal politicians, if given a choice between doing everything possible to win or de facto admitting defeat and trying to build a good cover story to explain it, would choose the former. But Trump is not a normal politician.
Why did McCarthy tell Axios' reporter, Alayna Treene, all this? Probably because he feels like he is beating his head against the wall trying to get Trump to understand he is bringing down the entire party. Maybe he thinks by going public with it, people Trump trusts (like Fox News hosts) will pick it up and start telling Trump: "Dummy, you are causing us to lose the senior vote. Stop it." In any event, McCarthy told Treene all this, knowing full well she was going to publish it, so clearly he wants it out there. (V)
The editor-in-chief of The Atlantic, Jeffrey Goldberg, wrote a piece last week describing how Donald Trump had repeatedly said nasty things about veterans and the military. If true, that would probably hurt Trump in Arizona, North and South Carolina, and other states with many veterans, not to mention active-duty military personnel. Trump claimed it was all fake news. End of story?
Maybe not. Goldberg was on CNN yesterday and dropped an ominous hint, saying that he expects "more confirmation and new pieces of information in the coming days and weeks." Goldberg is not stupid. He knew very well that Trump would simply deny the entire story. Now that Trump is on record saying it is fake news, we are starting to hear the quiet sound of shoelaces being untied, which may well be followed by the sound of the other shoe (maybe multiple shoes) being dropped. Goldberg would look extremely foolish if there were no more news on this front in September. Very possibly, one of his anonymous sources is going to come out and say in public: "I was there when Trump called fallen soldiers 'losers'." Goldberg suggested that he had four, five, or maybe even six different sources. If even one or two retired generals come out and say in public that Trump has no respect for veterans or soldiers, he will be forced to call the generals liars, which will be a big problem for veterans and active-duty soldiers. If Goldberg can make good on his threat, Trump has a serious problem ahead.
Trump understands this. Yesterday, he attacked Steve Jobs' widow, Laurene Powell Jobs, who owns a majority of the shares of The Atlantic:
Steve Jobs would not be happy that his wife is wasting money he left her on a failing Radical Left Magazine that is run by a con man (Goldberg) and spews FAKE NEWS & HATE. Call her, write her, let her know how you feel!!! https://t.co/wwuoP85bQE— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 6, 2020
It's pretty clear Trump realizes there is more to come and it won't be pretty. In all fairness to the President, though, shooting the messenger is a traditional tactic that has been used with great success by kings for thousands of years. Except maybe when the messenger is a Democrat who has previously supported Hillary Clinton and Kamala Harris and is worth $27 billion.
Goldberg isn't Trump's only problem on this front. Fox News' reporter Jennifer Griffin said she has confirmed at least part of the Atlantic story. Her words: "I can tell you that my sources are unimpeachable. I feel very confident with what we have reported at Fox." What's Trump going to do now? Tell everyone that you can't trust Fox? He can't tell everybody to watch OANN because it is not available in most of the country. Besides, how would Fox take that? The President did demand that Griffin be fired, but it's hard to imagine that even Fox would be willing to take direct orders from him on personnel matters.
The New York Times, the Washington Post, and the AP have all reported verifying parts of the original story. This story is not going away and it could possibly really hurt Trump with an important piece of his base: veterans and soldiers. To make it worse, although Biden never served, his son Beau served in Iraq. None of the Trump children were ever in the military. This situation allows Biden to say: "My son was proud to serve his country. I'm proud of his decision to do so. He was not a loser or a sucker." That's going to be tough for Trump to rebut, especially if one or more sources come out, as Goldberg is hinting they might do. (V)
It is hardly a secret that Democrats are furious with Postmaster General Louis DeJoy for weaponizing the Postal Service on behalf of Donald Trump. Their problem is doing something about it. It looks like DeJoy holds all the cards. Making cuts at the Postal Service may be helpful to Donald Trump, but since the organization is losing billions of dollars every year, trying to make it more efficient is easily defensible and certainly not a crime. So are the Democrats out of luck? Maybe not, thanks to a story in the Washington Post.
Their intrepid reporters discovered that before he became Postmaster General, DeJoy, who ran a logistics company in North Carolina, was also a major donor and bundler for the GOP. He also had the habit of pressuring people at his company to make big donations to Republican causes via him, which got him brownie points as a major league bundler. Since the poor donors didn't really want to contribute, DeJoy later reimbursed them via bonuses and such. The amounts of the bonuses were enough to cover the donations and also some merit bonus for helping him.
The only fly in the ointment here is that using straw men to funnel money into a political campaign is a federal felony. Oops. And they were even sloppy about it. The reporters found that between 2000 and 2014, 124 people at DeJoy's company gave a total of $1 million to GOP candidates. Many had previously never donated to any campaign and have not made any donations to any campaign after leaving the company, except a few—who donated to Democrats. In some cases, multiple employees made identical donations on the same day. Just goes to show that coincidences happen sometimes. North Carolina registers voters by party. If some of the 124 GOP donors are registered Democrats who never donated to Republicans except when they were working for DeJoy, it would seem a bit odd.
And another little problem: Not only does this violate federal law, but it also violates North Carolina state law (to which presidential pardons don't apply). And there is no statute of limitations. And more oops: North Carolina's AG is a Democrat, Josh Stein. Given this rather large hint from the Post, Stein now knows where to dig, should he be so inclined. Furthermore, while it would be unethical for the reporters to tell Stein who their sources were, telling him which public records of campaign donations they looked at would not be. They're public, after all. Would the pressured employees who are no longer with the company be willing to do some bean spilling? Your guess is as good as ours.
A picture is beginning to emerge now, although it is far from proven. When DeJoy was running his company, he pressured many employees to donate money to Republicans so he got the Party's attention as a big-time bundler. Then when he sold the company to XPO Logistics, he got between $25 million and $50 million in XPO stock in return. His status as a major bundler got him the job of Postmaster General. By helping to weaponize the Postal Service, he is a hero to Trump, who will let him run rampant giving USPS contracts to XPO, thus increasing the value of his stock. In fact, since DeJoy took over the USPS on June 15, XPO has gotten $14 million in USPS contracts for transportation and support. It all fits together well if you assume that DeJoy's real love is money, not Trump, and as a logistics man, he just sees Trump as a vehicle. (V)
Attorney general William Barr is supposed to be America's lawyer. Instead, a good case can be made that he is Donald Trump's personal lawyer, just like Rudy Giuliani. Dozens of prominent lawyers and former government officials recently sent an open letter (actually more of a legal brief) to the D.C. Bar Association asking for a formal investigation of Barr for violating legal ethics. Did that stop Barr? Absolutely not. He is continuing to act like Trump's lawyer, rather than the people's lawyer. It's hard to understand why he is sullying what was previously a pretty good reputation. Does he really need the $210,700 annual salary to avoid having to eat dog food? We doubt it. Before joining the Justice Dept. for the second time, he was a top lawyer at Kirkland & Ellis, LLP, the largest law firm in the world (by revenue), undoubtedly making a much larger salary than he is now. It is well known that he believes in the theory of the "unitary executive," but his actions now come closer to supporting the "divine right of kings."
Be that as it may, he is still saying and doing things that no respectable AG would do. The areas include:
- Mail-in voting: Just recently Barr said that mail-in voting was playing with fire.
When CNN's Wolf Blitzer asked him how many cases of mail-in fraud the Justice Dept. has prosecuted, the AG said:
"I don't know." Barr knows very well that the answer is zero because: (1) voting fraud is a state crime, not a
federal crime and (2) it is virtually nonexistent. Rick Hasen, a University of California Law professor whose
specialty is election law did a recent study and found the percentage of fraud cases to be 0.000025%.
Barr may not have seen Hasen's paper, but he knows very well that it is almost zero, so when he says mail-in voting is playing
with fire, he is out-and-out lying.
- Foreign interference in elections:
Among other things in the interview with Blitzer, Barr said that a foreign adversary might try to grab batches of
mail-in ballots at a post office. This is complete nonsense and he knows that very well.
He also said that a foreign adversary might counterfeit ballots. That is true, but it wouldn't work because each
ballot envelope has a unique numerical or bar code on it as well as the voter's signature. When it arrives at the
elections office, a worker scans the code, which brings up the voter's registration form and signature. It is
doubtful that a foreign adversary could get even a single false ballot accepted due to the signature checking.
Barr knows very well how the process works.
- Voting twice: When Blitzer asked him if it was legal to vote twice (as Donald Trump has suggested), Barr
said he didn't know. Technically, in a few states, it is legal to cast an absentee ballot, then go to a polling place
and tell the poll worker that you voted but have changed your mind and want to vote again. But in most states, it
is illegal and it is definitely illegal in the two states Trump named, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina. A first-year law
student who didn't know that a few states allow an in-person vote to override an absentee vote would be excused for
saying: "Voting twice is always illegal." The attorney general of the United States is expected to know that voting
twice is generally illegal, even if he didn't know about the small number of exceptions.
- China, not Russia:
When Blitzer asked which country is interfering the most in the 2020 election, Barr said: "China." This despite a recent
from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence saying, no, it's Russia that is actively involved already.
China might get involved, but so far it's Russia meddling. It is inconceivable that Barr has not heard of the report.
It was all over the news and he has direct access to the DNI.
When asked about the unrest in Kenosha, Barr denied that there was systemic racism in the U.S.
If that were true, why does the Dept. of Justice have a Civil Rights Division, whose only purpose is prosecuting racist crimes?
Barr also got into the details of the Jacob Blake case and said that Blake had a weapon and was in the process of committing
a crime. Justice Dept. officials are not permitted to discuss pending cases, something Barr knows extremely well.
Furthermore, there is no evidence yet that Blake had a weapon or was planning a crime.
And why did he have his three young children with him?
In short, Barr has been reduced to a flack for the president. If Biden wins, Barr is going to need to find a church real fast to pray that the new AG doesn't see him as a target. (V)
It is expected that at least half the vote in November will be by absentee ballot. We and others have talked about a "red mirage" before, in which the in-person votes are strongly for Donald Trump, but as the absentee ballots are counted in the days following the election, the numbers will move more toward Joe Biden. When are those absentee ballots going to be counted, actually?
It turns out that is not such a simple question. When an absentee ballot arrives, it undergoes five processing steps:
- The signature is verified
- The ballot is removed from the envelope(s)
- The ballot is flattened and put in a pile with other ballots
- The ballots are placed in a vote-counting machine
- The vote-counting machine is turned on
Every state has its own procedures and some states specify when some of the steps can take place but not others. Some states don't specify the procedure at all in state law and leave it up to election officials. For example, some states verify the signature when the ballot is received and then put the envelope in a pile unopened until Election Day. Others check the signature a fixed number of days before Election Day and put the ballot in the voting machine immediately but don't turn it on until Election Day. The rules are all over the map. Here is the detailed information by state. Below is an approximate summary, but some details have been omitted when all the steps happen on different days. No state allows any results to be announced before the polls close. However, some states may have the count of absentee ballots already received available right after the polls close. And, as we have pointed out before, 18 states count ballots postmarked before or on Election Day but received a few days later, so any absentee totals announced on Election Night are not complete.
|State||Processing can begin||Counting can begin|
|Alabama||Noon on Election Day||After the polls close on Election Day|
|Alaska||7 Days before Election Day||8 p.m. on Election Day|
|Arizona||14 days before Election Day||14 days before Election Day|
|Alaska||7 days before Election Day||8:30 a.m. on Election Day|
|California||19 days before Election Day||8 p.m. on Election Day|
|Colorado||Upon receipt||15 days before Election Day|
|Connecticut||Local option||Local option|
|Delaware||4 days before Election Day||4 days before Election Day|
|D.C.||Not specified by state law||After the polls close on Election Day|
|Florida||22 days before Election Day||After the polls close on Election Day|
|Georgia||Upon receipt||7 a.m. on Election Day|
|Hawaii||Upon receipt||Not specified by state law|
|Idaho||Election Day||After the polls close on Election Day|
|Illinois||Upon receipt||7 p.m. on Election Day|
|Indiana||Upon receipt||12 p.m. on Election Day|
|Iowa||1 day before Election Day||Election Day|
|Kansas||Not specified by state law||Not specified by state law|
|Kentucky||Election Day||Election Day|
|Louisiana||Not specified by state law||Not specified by state law|
|Maine||Election Day||After the polls close on Election Day|
|Maryland||After the polls close on Election Day||Day after Election Day|
|Massachusetts||Election Day||Election Day|
|Michigan||Election Day||After the polls close on Election Day|
|Minnesota||7 days before Election Day||After the polls close on Election Day|
|Mississippi||After the polls close on Election Day||After the polls close on Election Day|
|Missouri||5 days before Election Day||Election Day|
|Montana||3 days before Election Day||1 day before Election Day|
|Nebraska||8 days before Election Day||1 day before Election Day|
|Nevada||4 days before Election Day||Election Day|
|New Hampshire||Election Day||After the polls close on Election Day|
|New Jersey||Not specified by state law||Election Day|
|New Mexico||4-14 days before Election Day||After the polls close on Election Day|
|New York||Election Day||After the polls close on Election Day|
|North Carolina||Local option||14 days before Election Day|
|North Dakota||1 day before Election Day||After the polls close on Election Day|
|Ohio||Not specified by state law||Not specified by state law|
|Oklahoma||Not specified by state law||Not specified by state law|
|Oregon||7 days before Election Day||Not specified by state law|
|Pennsylvania||7 a.m. on Election Day||7 a.m. on Election Day|
|Rhode Island||14 days before Election Day||After the polls close on Election Day|
|South Carolina||9 a.m. on Election Day||9 a.m. on Election Day|
|South Dakota||Early, when there is time available||After the polls close on Election Day|
|Tennessee||Upon receipt||Midday Election Day|
|Texas||Not specified by state law||Depends on the jurisdiction|
|Utah||Not specified by state law||Not specified by state law|
|Vermont||1 day before Election Day||1 day before Election Day|
|Virginia||As needed||After the polls close on Election Day|
|Washington||Upon receipt||8 p.m. on Election Day|
|West Virginia||Election Day||After the polls close on Election Day|
|Wisconsin||When the polls open on Election Day||When the polls open on Election Day|
|Wyoming||Election Day||Election Day|
The notation "Not specified by state law" in the table means that state law does not require or prohibit processing or counting as of some specific date. In that case, the secretary of state would have the authority to decide when to process and when to count. Of course, the secretary could delegate the decisions to the counties if he or she so chose.
Some of the swing states may have partial results of the absentee count fairly quickly, but others won't. Arizona and North Carolina will have a substantial count on Election Day when the polls close. It could be a toss-up which one is first though. North Carolina is in the Eastern Time Zone but doesn't have much experience with absentee voting. Arizona has a lot of experience with absentee voting, but it is in the Mountain Time Zone. Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin will not have complete information when the polls close because they don't start counting until Election Day. This reinforces our view that North Carolina is probably the bellwether this time. If North Carolina is called for Biden big time on Election Night, Trump is in very deep doodoo. If Biden also wins Arizona big time, it's all over for Trump. However, if Trump wins North Carolina, he could yet pull it off depending on the "Midwest." (V)
As you can see from the story above, many states are not allowed to count mail-in ballots until Election Day. Some don't even verify the signatures until Election Day. If millions of absentee ballots are lying around in their return envelopes on Election Day, and all election officials are busy staffing the polls or providing telephone assistance to poll workers with thorny questions, it is pretty obvious that counting isn't even going to begin on Election Day, let alone end.
People who pay attention to politics (including our readers) have known for weeks that final counts would not be available on election night in many states, but the general public probably doesn't realize this. Now the secretaries of state are starting a campaign to inform people. For example, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D) went on NBC's "Meet the Press" yesterday. She bluntly announced: "The bottom line is we are not going to have the full results and a counting of all of our ballots on election night." She also noted that she had asked the legislature for help, but the (Republican-controlled) legislature doesn't seem to be interested. Secretaries from other states interviewed by "Meet the Press" personnel confirmed her story and said they will do their best.
Other secretaries also pointed out problems. Ohio's Frank LaRose said: "It takes 35,000 Ohioans to run an in-person Election Day." He was worried about finding them in the face of a raging pandemic. In short, a campaign to inform the voters that (barring a landslide) we will not know who the president-elect is on Nov. 3 (and probably also not which party will control the Senate) is starting to get going. (V)
During the Senate confirmation hearings for Clarence Thomas, when the main issue was pubic hair rather than judicial temperament, then-Senate-Judiciary Committee Chair Joe Biden treated witness Anita Hill—how shall we put this gently?—like dirt. She never forgot and has reminded the media from time to time. But given a choice between her former nemesis and Donald Trump, she has announced that she will vote for Biden.
In fact, she even said she will work with him on gender issues if he is elected president. If Biden wins and is smart, he will hire her. She has a J.D. from the Yale Law School and is currently a professor at Brandeis University. She could work in the Justice Dept. on gender discrimination cases, for example. That would go a long way toward rehabilitating Biden in the eyes of many women. He can't undo his history, but he could make it clear that he has learned from it. Appointing her to the Supreme Court to replace Ruth Ginsburg if she retires would bring her face to face with Thomas again, but as an equal this time. But she is 64 and Biden is not going to waste an appointment on someone over 60 and probably not someone over 55. Although if Thomas' seat comes open, the temptation to fill it with Hill may be too great to resist. (V)
On Saturday we answered a question from J.K. in Short Hills, NJ, who basically asked: "Why is your look-back window a week?" It is a excellent question. Our algorithm is to always use the most recent poll in a state and make an unweighted average of it with any other polls in the previous 6 days, so we are always using the available polling in the 7 days ending on the most recent poll. To be precise, each poll is assigned the day of the year for the middle day of the poll, accurate to one decimal place so a Sept. 1-2 poll counts as day 245.5. Any polls whose middle date falls in the range 238.5 to 245.5 would be counted.
But why 7 days? Why not 3 days or 10 days? As we said Saturday, using a 3-day look-back window would mean fewer polls and thus less averaging out the idiosyncracies of the pollsters, as there might be only one poll in the past 3 days. A bigger window would have more data but some of it would be old. A few years ago we ran a test after the election using windows of 1 to 30 days to see which result best matched the election results. It turns out it wasn't terribly sensitive to the window size and a week seemed like a sweet spot.
But in fact, we can run the same experiment every day. Here it is for today for windows from 1 day to 30 days.
Tests like this are common in science when an experiment has an (arbitrary) parameter, to see how sensitive the results are to the parameter. They are often called "sensitivity tests." Ideally, one would like a result that is very insensitive to the parameter. If our results fluctuated wildly with the window size, we'd have a lot of egg on our faces. However, we are largely egg free.
As you can see, for any window size from 1 day to 30 days, Joe Biden has 350 EVs and Donald Trump has 188. The percentage of strong vs. weak may go up and down, but that doesn't affect the total. As an example, here are the five most recent polls for Texas:
Texas Biden=46 Trump=48 Aug 28 to Sep 02 Univ. of Texas Texas Biden=47 Trump=48 Aug 21 to Aug 30 Morning Consult Texas Biden=48 Trump=47 Aug 21 to Aug 22 PPP Texas Biden=41 Trump=48 Aug 04 to Aug 13 YouGov Texas Biden=47 Trump=46 Jul 24 to Aug 02 Morning Consult
Let's see how this works. If the window is 1 day, only the Univ. of Texas counts and Trump gets Texas' 38 EVs. If we increase the window to 6 days, we pick up the Morning Consult poll as well, but Trump is still ahead in Texas. But wait a minute. As of yesterday we had Texas tied. How can that be? Simple. In the look-back window runs for sizes 1-5 days, the only poll is today's University of Texas poll. But the map for yesterday didn't have that poll because it wasn't released when we made the map yesterday morning. So the map had the then-most-recent poll, the Morning Consult poll, and all other polls within a week of it, which included the PPP poll. So yesterday's map used two polls (Morning Consult and PPP), but not the not-yet-released Univ. of Texas poll. If you mouseover Texas on yesterday's map you see that.
Now look at the map for Sept. 1. There Texas is blue because as of Sept. 1, the most recent poll was the PPP poll showing Biden ahead. But starting today and looking back as far as Sept. 1, we have three polls in the mix and Trump is still ahead. No matter how far back we go, today's Univ. of Texas poll will be in there, as well as some of the others. In this way, the map could show Texas as blue at some point but the look-back window back to that date would still have Trump winning Texas and being at 188 EVs. In fact, you can't reproduce the above graph by repeatedly clicking on "Previous report" and writing down the scores. The information isn't there. You would have to download the raw polling data and write a program like ours.
If we lost you, here's another way of looking at it. Here are all the Nevada polls for the entire year.
Nevada Biden=44 Trump=39 Aug 20 to Aug 30 U. of Nevada Nevada Biden=44 Trump=41 Feb 19 to Feb 21 AtlasIntel Nevada Biden=47 Trump=39 Jan 05 to Jan 08 Fox News
In each of the 30 runs with different window sizes, the University of Nevada poll is in there. But it doesn't matter if we go back 1 day, 30 days, or 90 days, it's the only poll, so we score Biden 7 EVs for every window size. In states that are rarely polled, every one of our runs may have only the most recent poll, so that state isn't going to give a different result depending on window size. On the other hand, Arizona is polled practically every day. But Biden is ahead every time, so he gets 11 EVs for Arizona in every run. It doesn't matter that his margin goes up and down and the set of polls used changes from run to run. He gets 11 EVs with a 1-point margin in Arizona and 11 EVs with a 20-point margin in Arizona. This is why the graph above is so insensitive to the window size.
Of course, close to Election Day there will be two, three, maybe four polls of Arizona every day, so the window size could be more important. But we can't tell which window size gives the best results until we know who won each state. We won't know that until all the absentee ballots have been counted, and that could be Nov. 10 or even later. Once the final results are in, we plan to run the experiment again to see which window size would have been best, but we suspect it won't matter so much. (V)
Poll after poll has now shown Texas to be amazingly close. There have been 23 polls of Texas since February this year and only three times has the difference between Biden and Trump been 5 points or more. In all, Trump has led 12 times and Biden 9 times. It looks like Texas might actually be close this year, although we still expect Trump to win it, albeit by a much smaller margin than usual. The big question now is whether either campaign is going to spend real money in Texas.
In Wisconsin, despite the unrest, Biden is still ahead. (V)
|Texas||46%||48%||Aug 28||Sep 02||U. of Texas|
|Wisconsin||50%||44%||Sep 02||Sep 04||YouGov|
While the presidential race is close in Texas, the Senate race is not. Part of the reason is that a lot of Texans hate Trump with a passion, but don't hate Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), who is a friendly, traditional Republican who doesn't go out of his way to antagonize people. The only thing of note here is the large number of undecideds (33%) (V).
|State||Democrat||D %||Republican||R %||Start||End||Pollster|
|Texas||Mary Hegar||28%||John Cornyn*||39%||Aug 28||Sep 02||U. of Texas|
* Denotes incumbent
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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Sep06 Today's Presidential Polls
Sep05 Saturday Q&A
Sep05 Today's Presidential Polls
Sep04 Trump Tells Residents of North Carolina, Pennsylvania to Vote Twice
Sep04 Trump Allegedly Smeared Dead, Disabled Veterans
Sep04 Biden Goes to Kenosha
Sep04 Biden Picks Up 100 More Endorsements from Prominent Republicans
Sep04 Pelosi, Mnuchin Reach Tentative Deal to Avoid Shutdown
Sep04 Facebook to "Limit" Political Ads Right Before the Election
Sep04 Judges Say: "No Way, 'Ye"
Sep04 Georgia Appears to Have Wrongfully Struck 200,000 People from Voter Rolls
Sep04 A Bookish Solution to Absentee Voting
Sep04 Today's Presidential Polls
Sep04 Today's Senate Polls
Sep03 Biden Leads Nationally by 8-10 Points
Sep03 Biden Raises an Incredible $365 Million in August
Sep03 Florida's Latinos Could Pick the President
Sep03 Could a COVID-19 Vaccine Be the October Surprise?
Sep03 Debate Moderators Announced
Sep03 An Election Night Doomsday Scenario
Sep03 McConnell Doubts There Will Be Another Relief Bill
Sep03 Pence De Facto Admits That He Was on Standby When Trump Visited Walter Reed
Sep03 Outlook for Republican Women is Good in the House, Bad in the Senate
Sep03 Today's Presidential Polls
Sep03 Today's Senate Polls
Sep02 Massachusetts Likes Its Incumbents
Sep02 Trump Gotta Trump
Sep02 Trump's Tax Returns Will Remain Secret for a Little While Longer
Sep02 Iowa Is Your New COVID-19 Hotspot
Sep02 Trump Trying Desperately to Salvage Big Ten Football Season
Sep02 Presidential Health Under the Microscope
Sep02 Social Security Is in Danger
Sep02 Today's Presidential Polls
Sep02 Today's Senate Polls
Sep01 Trump Reverts to Form
Sep01 Biden Takes the Show on the Road
Sep01 Sanders Is All-In for Biden
Sep01 USPS Shenanigans Look to Be Backfiring on Trump
Sep01 New Voter Registrations in Swing States Favor Democrats
Sep01 Tuesday Is Book Day
Sep01 Legal Blotter: One Win, One Loss for Trump
Sep01 Today's Presidential Polls
Sep01 Today's Senate Polls
Aug31 Is There a Trump Bump?
Aug31 Trump Unleashes Twitter Barrage
Aug31 It Is Still All about the Base
Aug31 DNI John Ratcliffe Won't Brief Congress on Election Security Anymore
Aug31 A New Battleground: Yard-Sign Theft
Aug31 Meadows: We Are Not Going to Negotiate a Coronavirus Relief Bill