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  • Let's talk about the polls

  • and whether we can trust them to pick

  • the next US president.

  • The president is behindand behind by a lot.

  • Most national polls have Joe Biden

  • with a lead over Donald Trump.

  • Sound familiar?

  • Polls showing Hillary Clinton ahead.

  • This is unheard of in recent presidential politics.

  • Just ask Hillary Clinton how that turned out for her.

  • So if polls can't predict a winner

  • why are there so many of them?

  • Can we trust them?

  • And while we're talking predictions

  • will Trump win again?

  • When it comes to picking the winner of a presidential race

  • Allan Lichtman thinks opinion polls are a waste of time.

  • He says they're snapshots, not crystal balls.

  • Who's Allan Lichtman?

  • Only the guy who's predicted every winner since 1984.

  • That's nine US presidents in a row.

  • He predicted Ronald Reagan's win

  • nearly two years before the vote.

  • He called Barack Obama's re-election in 2012

  • when many people thought the race was too close to call.

  • And against almost all the polls

  • he picked Donald Trump in 2016.

  • So who is Lichtman picking for 2020?

  • We'll get to that in a bit.

  • But first let's talk about the polls.

  • There are national polls, state polls

  • and a whole lot of other polls.

  • And they all do things differently.

  • US broadcasters like CNN and Fox News

  • do their surveys over the phone.

  • Associated Press and the Pew Research Center

  • recruit people offline but their surveys are online.

  • Pollsters might ask questions like:

  • Would you say that your choice of Trump is more

  • a vote for Trump or more a vote against Biden?

  • But there are many other factors

  • that can influence the results.

  • Things like who paid for the poll

  • because that could bias the pollster.

  • How were participants chosen?

  • Where are they from?

  • And that's where something called weighting comes in.

  • It's a calculation used by pollsters to make sure

  • their sample is representative

  • of an area, state or the whole country.

  • They adjust the sample for things like

  • education, age and gender.

  • So those are the kinds of things pollsters try to do

  • to stay as accurate as possible.

  • But in 2016 a lot were off the mark.

  • Back then some said Clinton's chances of winning

  • were high.

  • But she didn't win.

  • That's because while Clinton got more votes overall

  • what's called the popular vote

  • she lost the Electoral College, which is the voting system

  • used to decide the presidency.

  • That rarely happens.

  • And the pollsters didn't see it coming.

  • So how'd the polls get it so wrong?

  • Well one of the biggest mistakes in 2016

  • happened with state polls.

  • The Pew Research Center says there were too many

  • cheap-and-fast polls and too many

  • college-educated people were interviewed.

  • On Election Day two things happened.

  • First, there was a higher turnout in rural counties

  • and a lower turnout in urban ones.

  • That helped Trump.

  • And second, there were a lot of undecided voters

  • who chose Trump at the last minute.

  • But some of them didn't even get that far.

  • Research suggests that in 2016 a lot of people

  • were discouraged from voting because according to the polls

  • Clinton looked like a shoo-in.

  • Pollsters say they've learned from their mistakes.

  • And they better hope so because the combination

  • of Clinton's loss and Trump's win

  • convinced a lot of people that polls are just junk.

  • But two years later the polls for the US midterms

  • helped repair some of the damage.

  • And now the polls are back with a vengeance.

  • New polling on the 2020 presidential race.

  • Former vice president Joe Biden

  • with a lead over President Trump.

  • President Trump behind in two states ...

  • The poll also shows Biden with a 10-point lead

  • But David also says a lot can still change.

  • And he's not alone.

  • That doesn't mean we can't ever trust polls.

  • There are ways you can verify them.

  • And don't just read one poll.

  • Read many.

  • It's like getting more than one opinion.

  • The accepted wisdom is that polls do a good job

  • of taking the pulse of public opinion.

  • Are people worried about losing their jobs?

  • Do they care about racial inequality?

  • What about the pandemic and their health?

  • So let's bring back Allan Lichtman and find out

  • whether he thinks Trump will win again.

  • He's created what he calls the 13 keys

  • the keys to the White House.

  • If Trump loses out on six or more

  • Lichtman says the president is gone.

  • So, No. 1 is midterm elections.

  • The Republicans in 2018 did badly

  • so that's strike one against Trump.

  • No. 2 is party nomination.

  • He didn't have to fight for it so score one for Trump.

  • Three is incumbency.

  • Obviously that's a win for Trump.

  • Any third parties running?

  • Nope.

  • He gets another key.

  • The short-term economy?

  • Well, the US is in a recession.

  • Bad for the president.

  • Outlook for the long-term economy?

  • Also not good.

  • Any major policy changes

  • from the previous administration?

  • There've been plenty.

  • Another one for Trump.

  • Key No. 8 is social unrest.

  • And race relations in the US are awful

  • so Trump loses out there too.

  • Then there's scandal.

  • Trump takes key No. 10:

  • No foreign policy or military failures.

  • But he loses out on No. 11

  • which is foreign policy or military successes.

  • The next one asks whether the incumbent Donald Trump

  • is inspirational and charismatic.

  • According to Lichtman he is a flashy showman

  • but he only appeals to a narrow slice of the electorate.

  • And finally, is the challenger Joe Biden

  • charismatic and inspirational?

  • Lichtman isn't convinced.

  • So will Trump remain in the White House?

  • According to Lichtman the president

  • has lost out on seven of 13 keys.

  • So he's pretty confidentbut there's a catch.

  • Lichtman says two things could throw out his prediction:

  • Russian hackers, and what he calls voter suppression

  • by the Trump administration.

  • And 2020 is far from an ordinary election year

  • the pandemic and the ruined global economy

  • made sure of that.

  • This race is still a tough one to call

  • no matter what the polls say.

  • The original interview with Allan Lichtman

  • was conducted by our colleagues at The Take,

  • which is an Al Jazeera podcast.

  • You can listen to their episode about polls

  • wherever you get your podcasts.

  • I'll see you next week.

Let's talk about the polls

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Can we trust the polls? | Start Here

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    joey joey posted on 2021/10/13
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