Polls Predict a MAGA Landslide. Can You Trust Them?

Many polls show Trump leading Biden, but there’s more to the story.

The story

Donald Trump is polling ahead of President Biden in many key battleground states, but the Biden camp claims they aren’t accurate. Behind the scenes, the president is telling donors that “the momentum is clearly in our favor, with the polls moving towards us and away from Trump.”

Although national polls depict Trump and Biden as neck-and-neck, Donald Trump is comfortably ahead in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Nevada, and Arizona. If results are accurate and Trump won all five states, he would decisively win the election.

The sides

President Biden elaborated on his denial of the accuracy of the polls during a CNN interview: "The polling data has been wrong all along. (…) You guys do a poll at CNN. How many folks you have to call to get one response?”

The president is not necessarily wrong to be skeptical. The margin of error in polls is often double the stated figure, and random samples — the most common type of sample used in political polls — are likely to vary from the actual voter population.

In addition, cherry-picking polls can paint an inaccurate view of the current landscape. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) underscored this point on Sunday: polling in Wisconsin shows Biden with a small lead over Trump, which Johnson sharply denies. Small leads that fall within the stated margin of error should be taken with a grain of salt.

Beyond the headlines

Despite the polls debate, unwavering signs are indicative of Trump’s strong campaign. He is hugely outperforming in many demographic groups that historically break heavily for Democrats, including black Americans, Latinos, and voters under 30. Polls currently show Trump with a staggering 22 percent black support, after he won just 9 percent of their vote in 2020.

Voters have consistently abandoned Biden due to the state of the economy and the border crisis — the two biggest issues on Americans’ minds.

Meanwhile, Trump’s legal trials have not swayed public opinion away from him; in fact, he may have gained support because of them. But it’s important to note that the election will not singularly reflect voter sentiment.

Republicans are aware and have taken significant steps to implement election integrity safeguards state by state — cleaning voter rolls, cementing ballot rules, enacting voter ID laws, voting machine testing, banning private funding of elections, and hiring an army of election workers and lawyers to supervise the polls.

Democrats are also aware and are leaning hard into lawfare — a slew of legal actions designed to impair Trump’s campaign financially and to damage his image ahead of the election.

Why it matters

Recent history advises caution in accepting political polls as absolutely accurate. However, we do know that President Biden is historically unpopular in the issues that matter most to Americans, and that Donald Trump has gained traction with minority groups.

How these measurements will affect the 2024 election has yet to be seen. But voter momentum — which can be a more important indicator than a specific poll result — has been steadily moving in Trump’s direction.

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