If you recall, end of September, I presented the Financial Times’ analysis of polls for the upcoming election as well as Google Trends’ analysis. While polls tended to give Biden the lead, Google Trends gave Trump the lead. A month later, 2 days away from the election, more than 85 million people have already voted. Where do we stand in polls and Trends?
On October 10, Biden led by 51% (forget the .3, with the margins of error, .3 is just an illusion of precision) against 42 for Trump. A 9 point advantage for Biden, theoretically “good” given the probable margin of error of individual polls. (Which should be around plus or minus 3%, for a sample of 1,000, at 95% confidence interval) (Forgive the technicalities, they are important)
Today, November 1st, All Saints Day, Biden leads in polls by 52% (rounded) vs. 43% for Trump. A 9 point lead. Not bad. Do note that if we sum up 51.8 + 43.1 we get 95% expressed intentions. Pollsters seem to have learnt from the past: 5% of interviewees have not answered the question. They can go either way, or one way only… 5 points can make an election.
Still with me? Let’s look at the projection of electors, based on those polls:
The US electoral system is a bit antiquated, basically invented in the 18th century, when women didn’t vote, neither did blacks, with a few other… restrictions. Based on voting intentions on polls state by state, experts calculate the possible outcome in terms of the Electoral college. Late in September, Biden led with 255 electors, not enough to reach the minimum of 270, as opposed to 125 electors for Trump.
In October, Biden’s projected electors went above the minimum 270, with 279 projected electors. Trump was stable at 125. “Solid” states are those where a candidate leads by more than 10 points. “Leaning” states are those where the advantage is between 5 and 10 points. In “toss-up” states, the difference between candidates is less than 5 points. Final result could go either way.
Look at the major Toss-up states: Texas, Florida, Ohio, Georgia, North Carolina…
Today, November 1st, Biden’s projected number of electors is 272. Barely 2 electors above the required majority of 270.
Let us turn to Google Trends:
Google Trends, (see my previous post) measures the volume of searches for any given word. In that case, candidate names. How many “millions” or “thousands” have typed “Donald Trump” or “Joe Biden” in Google over a period? Google aptly names this variable, “Interest”. How many were interested in knowing about Trump, how many were interested in Biden?
On October 10, Interest for Donald Trump was 56%, way above 39% for Biden. If you’ll recall my previous post, Google Trends’ interest for Trump was above Hillary Clinton in 2016 and was a better predictor of Trump’s victory than polls.
How has “interest” evolved over the past month?
Lo and behold: mid October, it seems interest for Biden (56%) overtook interest for Trump (43%). Word of caution: interest does not mean voting intent. One may type “Biden” to know about a “lost computer”, and one may type “Trump” to learn about “taxes paid”. Or not.
Today, Nov. 1st, the “interest” gap between Biden and Trump has been reduced to 3 points only. Not good news for Biden’s campaign. Note: I don’t know how Google calculates this “average” interest. Fact of the matter, interest for Trump has almost always been higher in recent times than for Biden. There are even peaks of Google search related in time with Trump’s “aledged” positive testing to Coronavirus.
If we look at last week’s interest:
I take a slightly different approach than Google, measuring interest for just “biden” and “trump” in lieu of “Joe Biden”, etc. Curves are higher. Again, fact of the matter is: there still is more interest for “trump” than “biden”.
In conclusion, this is quite possibly the most important election in the “Free world” since… WWII maybe? Texas, Florida, Ohio, Georgia will be the key states where the final decision will be made. Vote.
This data can be read and analysed, regardless of political opinion. Just to make my personal view clear, allow me to present a cartoon posted on Scottie’s blog: