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Mama_Cakes's avatar

Looks as though Trump is ahead in the polls in Michigan. Thoughts?

Asked by Mama_Cakes (11060points) August 30th, 2020
22 responses
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canidmajor's avatar

I lost faith in polls four years ago. :-(

Dutchess_III's avatar

Michigan should be ashamed.

jca2's avatar

To me, as things change and the news changes, the polls will go up and down. I pay little attention to things like that. Look, when Trump made the “grab ‘em by the pussy” comment, polls probably went way down for him. When Hillary had the FBI investigation into her emails, polls probably went way down for her. Still in the end, things changed at the last minute so who knows.

seawulf575's avatar

I’m rather amazed that a poll would dare to admit Trump is leading anywhere in this country. They tend to skew things dreadfully to the left.

elbanditoroso's avatar

This too will pass. You had to expect some sort of a bump with all the convention folderol last week.

SavoirFaire's avatar

(1) Trump is the incumbent, and incumbents usually win (though I don't think he will win either Michigan or the election once all the votes are in).

(2) Trump won Michigan in 2016, and incumbents usually win most of the states they won the first time (though they frequently lose at least one, and Trump will probably lose several—which is bad for him because he doesn't have many he can lose).

(3) Trump just finished his convention, and candidates—incumbent or otherwise—usually get a bump in the polls after their conventions.

Trump is going to have some good days. Biden is also going to have some good days. That’s how campaigns go. If you get too caught up in the day-to-day polling changes, you’ll end up missing the forest for the trees. It's better to look at polling averages and trends (which don't look good for Trump).

@seawulf575 That’s not entirely true. There are a lot of pollsters, and they all have their own leanings, but they don’t all lean the same way. That’s why Trump loves Rasmussen, which tends to lean Republican. And the poll that shows Trump ahead in Michigan is from Trafalgar, which also leans to the right (though more to the libertarian right).

But it’s certainly true that many pollsters lean left. The worst offender is SurveyMonkey—not because it’s biased and unreliable (though it most certainly is both of those things)—but because it’s one of the few truly terrible pollsters that still manages to get cited constantly.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Real Clear Politics does polling averages, and their average shows Biden ahead by 2.6 points in Michigan. This is still within the margin of error, but Biden is ahead.

LostInParadise's avatar

I like to follow the FiveThirtyEight Web site. They are a meta-poll, averaging out other national polls and taking into consideration their reliability. I don’t think their latest results reflect the RNC. I will check to see what they say in the next few days.

Demosthenes's avatar

I tune out any time I hear the word “polls”. They mean absolutely fuck-all after the last election.

But I’ve always thought Trump is likely to win this November.

JLeslie's avatar

I have been hopeful about Michigan, because most of my Republican friends in Michigan have flipped on Trump. His handling of covid has pushed them into the Biden camp.

I have a group of 3 Michigan college friends (So 4 including me) who are in my closest circle, one of them is a Democrat the other 2 Republicans. When I asked them about QAnon and the influence the alt-right is having in Michigan one of them (Republican) said, “Christ on a cracker people.” They defended Republicans not all being sucked into the crazy cult crap (I never thought they all were), but also seemed oblivious to it. They three are religious by the way, all raised their children in the church.

Another friend of mine in Michigan who is libertarian and doesn’t like Trump will vote for him I’m guessing, because Q messaging has totally affected her. She is terrified of Democrats taking away children because of covid and forcing Americans to take vaccinations.

I was watching the RNC in real time one day and Rebecca Friedrichs’ speech on MSNBC about how teacher’s unions are evil (according to her) and I flipped to Fox News and they weren’t playing her speech! She was in the corner of my TV screen, but Fox News commentators were talking about something totally unrelated instead of airing what she was saying. Immediately, I thought of Michigan. Michigan has some of the best paid teachers in the country. So, Republican Michiganders who watched Fox News probably have no idea the RNC featured a speaker against the teacher’s unions. Here’s a link to the speech.

My husband said he recently saw Michael Moore on TV saying Trump will probably win. I think Democrats should pay attention to him. I think he has a real pulse on Michigan, and it is Michigan type states that matter the most right now.

I think the way for Democrats to win is to reduce the fear of swing voters and Republicans who don’t like Trump.

I’m still optimistic about Michigan going to the Democrats, but things can certainly change.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Just for the fun of it, review the past 3 years, and count the days between major Trump gaffes or scandals. Harvest time approaches in the nation’s breadbasket as the fool’s embargo wars have deprived farmers of a Chinese market for their crops and the hostility toward migrant workers continues to deprive farmers of affordable labor. In direct opposition to their core beliefs, we find conservative politicians decrying socialism as they shovel out money in an attempt to buy off the victims of Trump’s scandalous pandemic bungling. Three months is just about the perfect amount of time now that school is open, and we gear up for the Fall, for the consequences of the Covid fiasco to sink into the American psyche. Americans, for all their short memories and nonexistent attention spans, don’t require a crystal ball to understand the guaranteed disappearance of covid relief if the Republicans are allowed to keep the White House. The elections are on 3rd November. On 4 November, with Trump at the helm, kiss your benefits a 4 year goodbye.

kritiper's avatar

Michigan? Where is that and why would Trump being ahead in the polls there make a difference anywhere and everywhere else??

Darth_Algar's avatar

As I’ve said since I started voting: the only poll that matters is taken early November.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I don’t put a lot of faith in the polls these days, but I already assume he’s going to win. A lot of the conspiracies going around are driving people who weren’t particularly interested in Trump to be more supportive of him, whereas I’m not seeing anything creating a similar pull on the left. It reminds me of the last election.I think people like Biden even less than Clinton, honestly.

JLeslie's avatar

@kritiper Michigan is a swing state. Lots of people, I’m one of them, were feeling pretty confident Biden has a real chance there, but now maybe nit so much.

Who really know where the vote will wind up. For over a month now people have been telling me polls show Biden is way ahead in Florida. I live in Florida and I don’t feel that Biden is way ahead, I feel like Florida is way too close to call, and most likely going to go to Trump.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

47% is not a winning position for Trump!

gorillapaws's avatar

The DNC would rather lose with a neoliberal than win with a progressive. Michigan shouldn’t even be close. Maybe Boomers will finally learn that center-right Dems are less electable next time…

kritiper's avatar

@JLeslie There are 50 states so the ratio is 50:1 Michigan, even with it being a swing state, doesn’t make that much of a difference.
Let’s remember what happened in 2016! The polls indicated that Hillary would win.

seawulf575's avatar

@SavoirFaire You are right about some skewing right, though I’ve never seen one that skews WAY right. But when we talk about polls, all I can picture is all the polls that came out in 2016. First off, they all said Hillary would win. That wasn’t accurate. Secondly, there would be polls showing Trump leading all the other Republican candidates going into the primary, some by a great margin. He had something like 20% of the votes and Jeb Bush had like 2%. Yet some of these same polls ran another poll that said only Jeb Bush had any chance of beating Hillary in a general election. Trump stood no chance at all by those polls. But think about that…they say the guy that can only get barely 2% of the Republican votes would suddenly be the big favorite to win the general election. That doesn’t make any sense at all. There were others that followed this same sort of logic. In the end, what it really looked like was that these polls were trying to sway public opinion instead of reporting public opinion.
And let’s face it…you can make polls say whatever you like. You get to choose the questions, you get to choose the population to test, you get to do all the manipulation you like.
Now the one I saw that I DID like was the one that asked the question if the people would be honest about who they were going to vote for. There was a huge number that said no. That question, by itself, threw doubt into every poll they had done.

JLeslie's avatar

@kritiper I think Michigan is a good barometer for Ohio, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. I honestly don’t remember what polls said for Michigan in 2016. What I remember is Michael Moore saying Trump was going to win and I agreed with most of his logic behind it, because I was saying much of the same. Calling people racist and ignorant was going to help Trump win, I still think it did. I though PA and FL would go to Trump in 2016, I didn’t count on OH and MI, I just didn’t know. I did think Hillary was going to win, but I thought it would be close. She did win the popular vote, so polling was accurate that more people voted for her.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@seawulf575 “though I’ve never seen one that skews WAY right.”

There are a few, but they never get cited and are not included in any of the poll aggregators or election models that I’m familiar with. So while they exist, they are entirely inconsequential. There aren’t a whole lot that skew way to the left, either. The problem is that some models include the ones that do. Again, I return to SurveyMonkey. Their polls are notoriously unreliable and skew way to the left, yet for some reason The New York Times takes them seriously.

“First off, they all said Hillary would win.”

I completely understand why you think this, but I don’t think it is accurate. The problem is twofold: (1) statistics don’t work they way that people think they work, and (2) a lot of media outlets promote mistaken ideas about how statistics work. So while I don’t think it is true that the polls said Clinton would win, I don’t think you are at fault for believing that they did say that. The blame for this misconception lies at the feet of the people presenting the statistical data, not the people it is presented to.

What I mean is this: most media outlets said that the polls were predicting a Clinton victory, but that’s not actually what they said if you dig into the numbers. The best analysis suggests that Clinton had about a 70% chance of winning and Trump had a 30% chance of winning. But things that have a 30% chance of happening actually happen all the time. There was only a 30% chance of rain in my area today, and it’s been pouring since 6:00 am.

Unfortunately, most media outlets didn’t have great election forecast models. They estimated that Clinton had a 90–99% chance of winning (which the numbers did not actually bear out), and they took that to mean she was definitely going to win (which obviously turned out to be wrong). But the whole point of giving something odds other than 0% or 100% is that there is uncertainty. Anyone who claims that something is definitely going to happen when there is still uncertainty is being irresponsible, and a lot of election forecast modelers were irresponsible in 2016.

If you have a good statistical model, it should be “wrong” about as often as it’s odds suggest. That is, if you have ten races with 70/30 odds, then the person who has the 30% shot should win in three out of those ten races. If the person with the 70% shot wins in all ten races, then you have a bad model. It should have given the winners better odds. But this isn’t how the data is usually presented. We’re told that a 70% chance is a prediction of victory rather than an assessment of probability.

If we take this into account, the 2016 polls were as accurate as polls in previous years. The failure was in some of the models (particularly the Upshot model created by The New York Times) and in a lot of the reporting. We cannot expect everyone to have a degree in statistics or even a strong background in the subject, however, so it is the responsibility of people presenting the data to contextualize it. That did not happen in 2016, and isn’t really happening in 2020 either.

“they say the guy that can only get barely 2% of the Republican votes would suddenly be the big favorite to win the general election. That doesn’t make any sense at all.”

I completely agree with you on this point. But again, this was more a failure of punditry than the actual numbers. Like you said, they were trying to sway public opinion instead of reporting public opinion. But it was the pundits, not the polls, that were doing this.

“And let’s face it…you can make polls say whatever you like. You get to choose the questions, you get to choose the population to test, you get to do all the manipulation you like.”

You can, and some pollsters do. But plenty of pollsters take great care to avoid manipulating polls to the extent that they can. I studied survey construction and statistical modeling in college (it was a big part of my minor). It’s not easy, and a lot of the problems that creep into polls are either unintentional or come from legacy problems (e.g., when people continue to use old questions with known flaws because they allow an apples-to-apples comparison with previous polls).

“Now the one I saw that I DID like was the one that asked the question if the people would be honest about who they were going to vote for. There was a huge number that said no. That question, by itself, threw doubt into every poll they had done.”

Well, it’s one way of calibrating the confidence interval. A lot of polls include questions that try to uncover how direct and truthful a respondent is being, though that is obviously a much more direct way of trying to figure it out. Whether and to what extent it casts the poll into doubt, however, depends at least in part on how the pollster attempts to compensate for untruthful respondents. The raw data of a poll tells us very little. A large part of both the art and the science is found in how the data is processed into something useful.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

1,000 more GA’s for @SavoirFaire !

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