Poll Diving – part 8

How to explain why Trump hasn't collapsed even with one of the worst Democratic nominees as an opponent. 9,488,789 coronavirus infections and 236,571 deaths and counting, plus the huge economic hits would have easily taken down any other President. Then there's the seemingly erratic pattern to the election polls. Let's first check out the latter using broad categorizations for regions for comparative purposes. The first number is Trump's 2016 margin and the second is Trump's latest RCP average (that includes and gives equal weight to the good, the bad and the ugly).

Southeast Region:

Virginia: -5.3 and -11.8 (swing -6.5)
North Carolina: 3.6 and -1.2 (swing -4.8)
Georgia: 4.0 and –0.8 (swing -4.8)
Florida: 1.2 and -1.3 (swing -2.5)

MidAtlantic Region

Pennsylvania: 0.7 and -4.0 (swing -4.7)
Ohio: 8.1 and -0.2 (swing -8.3)

Upper Midwest

Michigan: 0.2 and -6.6 (swing -6.4)
Minnesota: -1.5 and -4.7 (swing -3.2)
Wisconsin: 0.7 and -6 (swing -6.7)
Iowa: 9.5 and 1.4 (swing -8.1) – (DMR has it at +7 for Trump for a swing of -2.5)

West (plus TX for fun)

Arizona: 4 and -0.9 (swing -4.9)
California: -30.1 and -29.7 (swing 0.4)
Texas: 9 and 1.2 (swing -7.8)

Focus on the direction and magnitude of the swing. As the actual poll numbers are only approximations and few pollsters will nail few numbers, try to ignore that for this review.

The most obvious takeaway is that Trump is down in all of the above states except California where he may be flat. (Trump's margin in AL is down.) However, there's not a consistent pattern to the magnitude of the swings, It's large in states that were close in 2016 and states there weren't close. But it's small in FL. Yes, FL is often very close but the same is true for IA and WI.

How could such a solid and reliably red state like Texas have such a large projected swing? Georgia's is no less confounding.

At the risk of being out-to-lunch, I think there is answer for these seemingly anomalous swings.

Recall the following national age demographics from the 2016 election:
18-29 – Trump 36 Clinton 55
30-44 – Trump 44 Clinton 51
45-64 – Trump 52 Clinton 44
65-110 – Trump 52 Clinton 45

Anecdotally, it has been reported that Trump has lost older and particularly female voters. By older does that mean senior citizens? The demographic particularly hard hit with Covid-19 deaths? If so, why only women when old men are dying at an equal or higher rate? Plugging that into the above states doesn't work. Florida's senior population is considerably larger than the other subject states and the margin swing is the smallest. What does work is the larger the older population, the smaller the margin swing. Say what? It's consistent with what we know/see/experience; the older we get the less likely we are to change or admit a mistake and death is more familiar and anticipated in older populations.

Also consider that the economic impact of Covid-19 has been minimal for seniors. The hardest hit are the youngest and lowest wage earners, but they are also less likely to vote. Plus, Trump lost those under age 45 by a considerable margin in 2016. By a process of elimination, it's a portion of the middle aged voters that are dumping Trump. In 2016 they comprised 40% of the electorate. That also the peak earning age for Americans and MAGA didn't happen for them.

A a low to high rank order of the subject states by percentage of the population over the age of fifty-nine is a pretty good fit for the margin swing:

GA: -6.0
TX: -7.8
VA: -6.5
MN: -3.2
NC: -3.8
MI: -6.4
WI: -5.3
OH: -8.3
AZ: -4.5
IA: -2.5 (DMR poll)
PA: -3.3
FL: -2.5

The large OH swing may be due to poor polling or Trump's large win was an anomaly as presidential elections in Ohio tend to be close.

These aren't stable swings but a response to the horrible person in office. There can be no electoral stability as long as both parties continue delivering different versions of the same screw the people for the benefit of the elites and wealthy and championing overthrow of foreign governments,

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To assume that people are (or at least should be) going to blame Trump for every bad outcome related to COVID-19.

No doubt he made and continues to make mistakes. But much of the response and policy decisions were (properly) left to the states. The states with the most heavy handed lockdowns and which implemented such questionable (to be charitable) policies - such as sending COVID-positive patients to nursing homes - and which have experienced the heaviest death tolls almost all are run by Democrats: MA,NY,PA,WI,MI,MN,CA...

It is rather naive to dismiss the possibility that many people in those states are either a) not that interested in assigning blame to anyone in particular or b) that if they are inclined to blame anyone it may be their state and local government officials or those such as Fauci who have been advising Trump rather than blaming Trump himself.

Particularly when they see states like South Dakota where people have been going about their business pretty much normally all along without significantly worse outcomes COVID-wise.

Also, and I can't seem to find where I saw a pollster discussing this, you may be underestimating the extent to which young people are resistant to the idea of further lockdowns - which they correctly associate with Biden, in contrast to Trump's emphasis on re-opening. I certainly can't blame them.

No idea if this would cause an actual shift in support by young people, but it would appear to be a factor working in Trump's favor, not Biden's.

Hope that clears things up.

"The reason so many people misunderstand so many issues is not that these issues are so complex, but that people do not want a factual or analytical explanation that leaves them emotionally unsatisfied. They want villains to hate and heroes to cheer - and they don't want explanations that do not give them that."

~ Thomas Sowell

(Edit) On re-reading, I see you did deal with situation of younger voters to some extent - we'll have to see what happens with them WRT turnout and how they break support-wise. Still think you may be overestimating the extent to which people blame Trump for his handling of the COVID situation. Not to mention overestimating the extent to which this erosion in support is even real.

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@Blue Republic

To assume that people are (or at least should be) going to blame Trump for every bad outcome related to COVID-19.

Are you so biased that your reading comprehension skills are lacking? I think they should point a specific finger at Trump for Covid-19; it's been a disaster. (Jimmy Carter lost big time because he couldn't get the Tehran Embassy hostages out. A comparatively small matter for the everyday lives of Americans.) However, that's not what the polls are indicating, and therefore, my analytical skills would be wanting if I'd made such a claim.

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