Presidential Polling Report – Part I

By Jim Ellis

Note: All the best for a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. Political Updates will return on Monday, Nov. 30.

Former VP Joe Biden

Nov. 25, 2020 — Now that the states are certifying their election results and the numbers are becoming clearer, we can look at the key battleground regions and assess the cumulative polling community’s accuracy.

Today we look at the key Great Lakes region and the states that turned away from President Trump and landed in former vice president Joe Biden’s camp. Polling had predicted Biden to win all four of the key states, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, which he did, but they largely missed the mark when it came to margin. In three of the five instances the pollsters predicted substantial wins for Biden, not the close result he ultimately recorded.

In each place, we take the five publicly released polls conducted closest to the election and analyze whether the cumulative and individual survey research firms came close to the final result or missed beyond the polling margin of error.


Michigan

In Michigan, where Biden scored a 50.6 to 47.8 percent victory, the final five pollsters were the Trafalgar Group, Insider Advantage, CNBC/Change Research, Emerson College, and Mitchell Research. Insider Advantage came the closest, predicting a Biden two-point victory. Three pollsters missed beyond the polling margin of error. The Trafalgar Group actually predicted a Trump win.

Michigan – Biden 2.8 percent

Trafalgar Group 10/30 – 31 1033 LV 46 48 Trump +2
Insider Advantage 10/30 – 31 500 LV 49 47 Biden +2
CNBC/Change Research 10/29 – 11/1 383 LV 51 44 Biden +7
Emerson 10/29 – 30 700 LV 52 45 Biden +7
Mitchell Research 10/29 817 LV 52 45 Biden +7

Minnesota

Though Minnesota is the most loyal state to the Democrats in the presidential race, it appeared for a time that the state could become close, just like in 2016 when President Trump came within 1.5 percentage points of capturing the domain. In 2020, however, Minnesota returned to form and awarded Biden a 52.5 to 45.4 percent win. Here, the final five pollsters were Survey USA, the Trafalgar Group, KSTP/Survey USA (two separate polls), and Minnesota Post. All fell within an acceptable accuracy range.

Minnesota – Biden 7.1 percent

SurveyUSA 10/23 – 27 649 LV 47 42 Biden +5
Trafalgar Group 10/24 – 25 165 LV 48 45 Biden +3
KSTP/SurveyUSA 10/16 – 20 625 LV 48 42 Biden +6
MinnPost 10/12 – 15 1021 LV 49 44 Biden +5
KSTP/SurveyUSA 10/1 – 6 929 LV 47 40 Biden +7

Pennsylvania

The Keystone State has been the site of the most strenuous voter fraud lawsuits, which included a Trump legal victory. In the end, however, the victorious lawsuit(s) would not be enough to overturn the projected result, which was a close 50.0 – 48.8% finish. Polling was inconsistent with Rasmussen Reports coming closest to the final result. Three of the five firms actually predicted a Trump victory. The pollsters were: Susquehanna Polling & Research, Rasmussen Reports, the Trafalgar Group, NBC News/Marist College, and Insider Advantage.

Penn – Biden 1.2 percent

Susquehanna 11/1 – 2 499 LV 48 49 Trump +1
Rasmussen Reports 10/31 – 1 800 LV 50 47 Biden +3
Trafalgar Group 10/30 – 31 1062 LV 46 48 Trump +2
NBC News/Marist 10/29 – 11/1 772 LV 51 46 Biden +5
Insider Advantage 10/30 – 31 500 LV 47 49 Trump +2

Wisconsin

The Badger State was the closest of the four regional entities that touch a Great Lake. The final result saw the two candidates coming within just 20,608 votes, or a percentage breakdown of 49.4 – 48.8 percent in favor of the Democratic nominee. Polling from four of the five entities missed badly, all predicting a substantial win for Biden.

Susquehanna was the closest of the group, missing by just over two percentage points. CNBC/ Change Research, Susquehanna Polling & Research, Emerson College, Ipsos/Reuters, and Siena College/New York Times comprised the final group of survey research entities.

Wisconsin – Biden 0.7 percent

CNBC/Change Research 10/29 – 11/1 553 LV 53 45 Biden +8
Susquehanna 10/29 – 31 450 LV 49 46 Biden +3
Emerson 10/29 – 30 751 LV 53 45 Biden +8
Reuters/Ipsos 10/27 – 11/1 696 LV 53 43 Biden +10
NY Times/Siena 10/26 – 30 1253 LV 52 41 Biden +11

NE-2

For the second time in the past four presidential elections, the 2nd Congressional District of Nebraska went against the statewide trend and awarded an electoral vote to the candidate losing the statewide count. In addition to this year, the same pattern occurred in 2008 when then-Sen. Barack Obama carried the district but not the state.

This time the Biden victory was substantial with FM3 Research projecting the correct margin of 11 percentage points. The other pollsters, while forecasting a Biden win, significantly missed the actual winning spread. The five pollsters were: UNLV Business School, Change Research, Emerson College, FM3 Research, and Siena College/New York Times.

NE-2 – Biden 11.4 percent

UNLV Business School 10/30 -11/2 191 LV 50 44 Biden +6
Change Research 10/29 – 11/2 547 LV 50 47 Biden +3
Emerson College 10/29 – 30 806 LV 50 48 Biden +2
FM3 Research 10/1 – 10/4 450 LV 53 42 Biden +11
Siena College/NYT 9/25 – 9/27 420 LV 48 41 Biden +7

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