Trump vs Biden: Landslide or down to the wire? Ghosts from 2016 circle overhead

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BY NIKHILA NATARAJAN
New York, Nov 3 (IANS)
America’s top pollsters have thumbtacked their final election forecasts and we, the audience, are thinking just one thought: 2016!
If everything we know now about 2016 hadn’t happened — Cambridge Analytica’s behavioural targeting Facebook for the Trump campaign, the James Comey shocker, Russian interference and the battleground state polls being off — then Biden’s steady lead across a dumpster load of polls may have been taken more seriously.
But no. Four years on from 2016, the mood is stubbornly dystopian, the conversation keeps returning to some version of apocalypse.
IANS caught up with plenty of voters who had either dropped off their votes already or were on their way to vote as they took our call.
One of them, on a farmland out in Washington State, said this: “When I see some state poll numbers showing double digit leads, I think, who’re they kidding? The culture wars have begun, the mobocracy is here.”
The panic over polling can mostly be traced back to the 2016 math that went wrong, mainly in the bellwether states.
That year, the final RealClearPolitics poll average showed Hillary Clinton leading Trump by 3.2 percentage points nationwide, her actual margin in the popular vote was 2.1 points.
The errors came from state polling. RealClearPolitics average showed Clinton leading by 3.6 points in Michigan, by 2.1 points in Pennsylvania, and by 6.5 points in Wisconsin. Trump carried all three states by less than 1 point.
Voters we spoke to are thinking thoughts ranging all the way from “landslide” to “down to the wire” to everything in between. Most have priced in post election legal tangles.
So, here’s what the numbers look like on November 3, 2020, from a couple of the most commonly cited US polls.
Biden has a “89 in 100” chance to win the US election, according to the obsessed-by-elections forecaster FiveThirtyEight. The model has landed on this number after simulating the election 40,000 times which then spits out a sample of 100 outcomes.
According to FiveThirtyEight, “Biden’s standing is considerably stronger than Clinton’s at the end of the 2016 race. His lead is larger than Clinton’s in every battleground state, and more than double her lead nationally. Our model forecasts Biden to win the popular vote by 8 percentage points, more than twice Clinton’s projected margin at the end of 2016.”
Trump, in the FiveThirtyEight model, has a 10 per cent chance to win. “Trump needs a bigger-than-normal error in his favour, but the real possibility that polls are underestimating Trump’s support is why he still has a path to win reelection,” it sasid.
RealClearPolitics’ poll of polls in six top battlegrounds puts Biden 2.3 points ahead, its national poll average has Biden more than 6 points in front of Trump.
Biden’s national level lead, purely in number terms, is the widest for any candidate on the eve of the elections since Bill Clinton in 1996.

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