US Presidential Election

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?

Financial Times, October 10

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)

Financial Times, November 1st

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:

Financial Times: projected electoral college. Sept. 29

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.

Projected electoral college, Oct. 15

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…

FT, projected electoral college, Nov. 1st

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, Oct. 10

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?

Google Trends, Oct. 15

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.

Google Trends, Nov. 1st

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:

Google Trends interest for “trump” and “biden”, Last 7 days

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:

63 thoughts on “US Presidential Election

    • Very interesting Hedy. Dankje wel… I’m still concerned. Concerned about violence on Election day. Concerned about “filling the urns” in Florida and Texas. Concerned about manoeuvrers by the trAmp on E-day. Violence afterwards… Too many guns in the US.
      And I am concerned about the example the oldest democracy in the world may give the world. I’ve lived for too long in full- or semi- dictatorships… Be safe… πŸ™πŸ»πŸ’•

  1. Neil Young once wrote, “Numbers add up to nothing.” We had every kind of poll in 2016 and we learned that we were on a fool’s mission. I’ve read polls that give Biden 340 electoral votes. I’ve read polls the have Trump barely sneaking by. And, everything in between. There are also large bloc of voters who nobody has discussed. For instance, remember that mass shooting in the school in Florida? Some of the survivors became activists. Their nominal leader says that there about 7,500,000 young first time voters who are still mad as hell and are going to turn red things blue. So, the real answer is… who knows?

    • My point entirely. I spent a professional lifetime producing and analysing numbers… (Market research. First cousins to pollsters…) And the numbers are telling me: “We. Don’t. Know.”
      Stay safe.

      • Once, in another time in my life I worked for a person who believed in polling. I told her what I thought we should do. She, didn’t me seriously. So we had another data gathering session. The data said the same thing I said. She asked how I knew.

        I know what I know was my reply.

        But, man, I am unclear about this one. Trump always manages to slither through. Yet, so many people are voting early and are energized so I have great hope.

      • Polls do work, trust me, BUT… they have limitations, technical limitations. Precisely when choice is at 50/50, which has been the case in most elections in the West for years now. Just math.
        Yes, people have voted early. That could be good. All we can do now is 🀞

      • They also have subject limitations. I have yet to read sample sizes. I suspect they are so small as to be meaningless. I also suspect that there is no mean base. I taught this silliness in college until Katrina came and blew me into another state.

      • They can’t really do samples lower than 1,000 per state, can they? It would be ridiculous. So that’s 50,000 per survey? Blows the mind. Then how is the data aggregated? Just summed up? Or weighted? By population? And/or by number of electors?
        So you taught quant. techniques? In Nawrleans?
        Take care.

  2. I appreciate your analysis even though it doesn’t assuage my fears. The margin is too close for comfort. Plus, with each passing day, Trump’s rhetoric increases the probability of violence in the case that Biden wins. I don’t want to be paranoid but I’m bracing myself. Trump is not going to shut up and go away no matter what the outcome of this election.

    • I agree totally Carol. Biden’s campaign bus was chased by in Texas for miles, and the State troopers didn’t “see nothin'”? Once the violence starts we all know from human history it is hard to stop. Bracing is correct… πŸ™πŸ»

  3. Only few more sleeps until election day when Trump hopes to be re-elected and Biden hopes to end Trump’s time in the White House. Waiting for the election results is like waiting for a grade on a group project. I know I did my part right, but I’m scared everyone else messed it up πŸ™ˆ

  4. Knowing that Trump will stop at nothing , criminality, suppressing the vote, lies, soliciting help from foreign dictators , stacking the Supreme Court , we know there will be trouble ahead. Today his cohort in crime Giuliani actually said β€œ you’ve no idea the power Trump will have when re-elected β€œ . Thus us the first time I’ve ever been ashamed of America.

    • You’ve pretty much summed it up, Coeur de Feu. As I mentioned in another comment, I have spent most of my life in full- or semi- dictatorships… I see the US under attack. From the top, for God’s sake. I see France under attack, form the inside! Jesus! And true democrats the world over feel so helpless… Honestly, I’m a t a loss. Hence those two posts. My minute contribution. And 🀞

      • Oddly, a French blogger called me a fascists based on my disdain for Trumps reckless behavior … the new leftists. I was angry. What’s the world come to? Take care dear Brian. πŸ€—

      • Oddly, I was attacked at a French girls blog living in England. Her pal ( a guy notorious for trying to make points if you know what I mean) jumped on the band wagon and I had to be rescued by a very pleasant and bright fellow who felt two on one was cowardly. I imagine she loved the austerity in Great Britain and was gung ho for Brexit. Meow.

      • Point making can be so obnoxious… There aren’t too many on WP, thank Heavens… Not like Twitter.
        I’ve only been attacked a coupla times. Stopped it right there. As for the rest, I just don’t argue. It’s a waste of time. People don’t listen to reason anymore. A few times I get stupid comments. I just approve and don’t answer. If they tried to keep it up, I would just trash them… 🀣
        Sorry my compatriot attacked you. (I hope I don’t know her… there is a French girl living in England that I know…) Anyway.
        My nails are figuratively bitten to the quick. I just wish tomorrow will be without violence… Stay safe dear.πŸ™πŸ»πŸ’•

  5. I appreciate your efforts to show us how analysis can be leading indicators for this election. In the end, as before, America is forced to choose between two awful outcomes and hope for the best. Let us hope cooler and more intelligent heads rise to save the Republic.

  6. Yes an antiquated system. The electoral college is a mockery of democratic process (most are, but this is exceptionally disempowering), I wonder what would transpire with one vote one value and no electoral college, voter registration a once off (as it is here) and compulsory voting (as it is here)?

  7. I just started watching Colony (2016-2018) yesterday after having put it on hold for months for unknown reason. Now I’m looking out the window waiting to see the Redhats marching up and down the street, bursting into people’s homes and arresting or outright shooting them. The rest has already been in place: travel interdictions, curfew, public places closed, food shortage/rations and so on.

    Think it won’t happen? Think again. I can envision how it starts: Trump wins the [always] rigged elections, people take to the streets in rage, Soros finances and manipulates the riots rising them to untolerable levels, then they put in place the World Government which deploys its own merciless troops in order to restore the calm. And the troops will stay, indefinitely. There’s your New World Order.

    Alternatively, some skilled guy(s) will hack into the “grid”, push some buttons to launch all world’s nuclear arsenal at the same time and there will be peace and quiet on the planet for a few hundred or thousand years before it becomes inhabitable again, at which point the star people will come and begin their genetic manipulation tests. Again.

    Or maybe I’m just crazy, huh, according to Occam’s Razor. Time will tell.

      • Future (interim) military regime may have been deemed necessary in certain countries where freedom is highly valued and people are not blindly obedient. France is such a country, Italy and Spain might be too, so don’t be surprised if that happens someday soon. More so when people stop buying into this virus scam and the newly reimplemented “terrorist attacks” (beheadings in French cathedral, bombing in Vienna, Austria etc), and take to the streets in large numbers worldwide. There’s only so much gullibility before the masses start realizing something very bad is going to happen to us all as a species, and when that happens there won’t be ‘reds agains blues’ anymore, or other similar petty quarrels, but it’s gonna be humanity all together against The Enemy.

        All we have to find out now is who the frack are The Enemy. All of them. Before Bill Gates & Co. does away with us through his mandatory eugenics “vaccines”.

        I, for one, would rather die with a sword in my hand than with a needle in my shoulder.

  8. This is remarkable analysis to me even if it’s like riding a bike for someone of your pedigree and knowledge. I started listening to a popular podcast the past six months that was started by a few of President Obama’s old speechwriters and advisers that was instrumental in helping me understand and perhaps sort of re-embrace the art and science of polling as something to keep one eye on, despite the trauma of 2016 (social/political progressive here who was shocked back then). Polling and trends are still an overwhelming Pandora’s box to me that seem to require enormous understanding and nuance. it’s the kind of thing that sounds super-simple and straightforward when an expert’s ticking down a list of what-ifs. Each poll should come with ten pages of footnotes.

    At any rate, first time commenter on your journal/blog. I felt like the effort and soberness behind this essay required a response on the part of this confused but grateful reader
    -Jason

    • AFK? I had to look it up. πŸ˜‰ A cleansing experience no doubt.
      306 what?
      Glad you liked the posts. They were a reflection of my growing concern. Democracy seems to have won. Only two months left before eviction… ✊🏻

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