Thursday, August 4, 2016

For those worried/excited about the polls showing Donald Trump behind, a few things.

Donald Trump. Michael Vadon.

As you may know, Donald Trump has taken a dive in the polls. Many people are saying that "this is the end of his campaign" which they have said many times before. Trump is resilient and has bounced back in the past. But is this dive even real? I don't think so, at least not to the extent the media says it is. Here's a bunch of factors why I think so:

1. The polls are completely biased against Trump. That should not be surprising to anyone who has been paying attention this election cycle. The entire media is biased against Trump. He threatens their power base because he has, until this point, been able to deflect their attacks on him. Why wouldn't polling agencies be the same?

How are the polls biased? Well for one the sampling is out of control. You would think that the sample size would be reflective of the actual political demographics of the United States right? A representative mix of Democrats, Republicans and Independents right?

Well you know that isn't true. If you look at the actual data from these polls you will immediately realize that Democrats are over represented. Worse Republicans are under represented while the largest political group in the country, independent voters, are criminally under represented. Some polls adjust for this and others don't but you can't really tell if any one poll is reliable or not unless you know if they have or not. I would also disregard any poll that doesn't also include Gary Johnson and Jill Stein. Having them in the race helps Trump, so if don't see them in the poll, it's biased against him.

Finally, some outlets have changed their polls to favor Hillary Clinton. Reuters famously dropped the "neither option" right after the Democratic Convention, thus forcing people to choose one of the candidates. Even worse, CNN dropped everyone in the "Millennial" category of 18-34! These adjustments are invisible unless you go and look for them. 

My guess is that the actual race is a lot more close then the polls indicate. Indeed, LongRoom, an admittedly partisan source, shows Trump and Clinton in a tie with some polls showing Trump with a slight lead and a couple showing Clinton in the same position. Though obviously partisan, LongRoom did correctly predict the last 3 presidential elections accurately. 

2. "Shy Trump" voters are a thing. "Shy" voters are people committed to one candidate or another but are too embarrassed or afraid of social consequences to admit it to pollsters. This often happens to conservatives, especially if those conservatives live in liberal areas. (incidentally that's another reason the polls are inaccurate, they over sample the East and West Coast and under represent the Midwest and South). 

For a good example of this, look at the UK's "Brexit" vote. The pro-Brexit voters were behind in the polls for pretty much the entire time that polling was being done. But when the time came to vote, Brexit won. That was because people were portraying Brexiters as racist, thus imposing a cost to being honest in the polls. Nobody wants to admit to supporting something that people call racist, rightly or wrongly. 

I am sure you have figured out by now that Donald Trump is especially susceptible to "Shy" voters. The media has done everything in their power to depict Trump as a racist, sexist bigot. Who wants people to know that they support someone accused of those things, even if they don't believe it themselves? And now the media has been calling Trump literally insane and even a traitor! Is it any wonder that people are afraid to admit to voting for him? This coverage has reached a fevered, shrill pitch, so there are real costs to supporting Trump right now. 

But I think that people are still supporting Trump on the down low. Faux scandals like the Kazir Khan kerfuffle probably didn't convince people to not vote for Trump. Most Trump supporters have heard the accusations against Khan, how he has a financial interest in Muslim immigration, how he is an expert in Sharia law and so on. But they also know that many liberals and independents have not heard those accusations. As time fades and the scandals retreat these "Shy" voters will begin to answer the polls based on who they actually support. 

3. A convention bump was expected. Trump got his and now Clinton has got hers. Believe it or not, conventions matter. Though the Democrats was a disaster, media coverage was good. Many people turned in and considered Clinton for the first time. The good speeches given by the Obama's help as well. 

So yes, there was a bump for Clinton. That was expected and explains much of the bump that Clinton got recently. It should not be surprising that Trump took a hit in the polls after the convention. This always happens and it would be unprecedented if it hadn't happened to Trump. 

In conclusion, I think that Trump did take a hit but that hit was greatly magnified by the convention bounce, the "Shy" voter phenomenon and obvious bias in polls and media coverage. Most of that isn't real so I think that Clinton and Trump are probably tied.  

What will change that? Well the debates for one. Clinton is going to get eviscerated by Trump, possibly literately. Clinton isn't a good debater at all, she got killed by Barack Obama when she ran against him, and I fully expect that Trump does the same thing considering how well he destroyed everyone during the primaries. 

I think a major terror attack will probably change things as well. Just think about the polling during and before the Republican conventions. There was the Nice attack and several mass political shootings in the United States. That gave Trump a bounce and when, not if, it happens again it will push Trump into the lead. Right now to predict otherwise would be a massive risk that will probably end up being wrong. 

Still, November is a long way off. Even though I think that Clinton and Trump are a lot closer then the polls indicate, even if they are tied that doesn't bode well for the future. Trump should have been putting Clinton away right now, especially after her horrible convention. The E-Mail scandal and her damning non-indictment should have mortally wounded her and the Wikileaks e-mails showing that she had rigged the primaries against Bernie Sanders should have ended her forever.

The fact that those two factors didn't end her campaign shows that voters do not pay attention at all. This of course helps Trump as well, as nobody will care about Kazir Khan in November, but it just goes to show that Democracy is a joke. The problem is we have to rely on people to vote correctly but that just doesn't happen. I still think that Trump is going to win in November but I am also preparing myself for other outcomes. I just don't trust the competence and intelligence of the American voter.    

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