Famed pollster Nate Silver of the FiveThirtyEight analytical website brought a dose of cold reality to ABC News on Sunday, telling host George Stephanopoulos that there is still plenty of room in the polling for President Donald Trump to defeat Joe Biden in the 2020 election.
Silver showed up to the program with his new polling averages, which show Biden with a 9-point advantage over Trump in national surveys. However, he was quick to note, national polling “doesn’t really matter” since presidential elections are decided by the Electoral College. He noted that Hillary Clinton was leading in national polls on the night of the 2016 election, but that didn’t stop Trump from destroying her in the only race that matters.
“Trump needs to make a comeback,” Silver said. “Again, there’s plenty of time for that and maybe also get some help from the electoral college.”
The pollster said that a look at the swing states revealed bad news for the incumbent – Biden is leading in Wisconsin, Florida, Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.
“So for the time being, no, I don’t buy that we’re going to have the exact same map as we did in 2016,” Silver said. “Instead, Trump is fighting a two-front war with problems in the Midwest on one hand and Arizona and Florida on the other hand. I want to be really clear, Trump can absolutely win reelection. But he definitely has his work cut out for him.”
Well, it may look that way now, but we should recall that we’re a long way from November. And if the back half of this year is anything like the first, things could look dramatically different by the time everyone goes to the polls. Joe Biden could have a mental meltdown at one of the debates, to name just one of the more likely occurrences. Or these racial protests could continue, convincing normal Americans that, no, we don’t need a president who is going to rubber stamp every agenda item on the Black Lives Matter platform. Hell, these growing tensions at the India/China border could erupt, throwing the world into a nightmare that none of us could predict. It’s just too far away to know for sure.
In any case, anyone still putting more than a cursory amount of faith in the polls after what happened in 2016 has more confidence in their improvement than we do.