A Grain Of Salt

They’ll be counting the votes in the election for President of the United States a week from today. The polls have Joe Biden in a commanding lead.

Four years ago at this time the polls had Hillary Clinton ahead – yet Donald Trump won the election. Is that going to happen again?

The pollsters say they have learned from the mistakes of 2016. They have changed how they sample the voters. They are confident their figures are accurate this time.

Once again, they may be right as to the national numbers, but the American presidential election isn’t a popularity contest. It isn’t about the most votes overall, but about winning the electoral college. And in the key states Donald Trump needs to win, he’s trailing.

But not that significantly, as I read the numbers. Sometimes it looks to me like Trump and Biden are neck and neck, given the margin or error all polls have,

There’s another factor impossible to determine. Are people telling the truth to the pollsters? I suspect they are not.

Hands up if you like Donald Trump. Now hands up if you would vote for him. Notice how there are more hands now?

The media has done a good job of demonizing Trump. Much of the criticisms are well-deserved. But they have done more than that. They have portrayed anyone who supports Trump as racist, misogynist, uneducated and a long list of other not so nice qualities.

We all want to be liked, we want others, even strangers, to think well of us. When the pollster calls, we want their approval.

Which has me thinking that many people who intend to vote for Donald Trump won’t admit it publicly. Which makes the polls suspect.

If the United States had a viable third party the election might be a lot more interesting. But it doesn’t. And the impression I have is that Joe Biden doesn’t excite people on his own – he’s just the only candidate who has a chance of beating Trump.

Will that be enough on election day? Unless there is a dramatic event in the next week to change voter intentions, I don’t think so. From where I sit it looks to be shaping up as a repeat of 2016. Biden will receive the most votes, but Trump will win where it counts and take the Electoral College. Four more years.

I’m an outsider. As a political scientist, I have no idea which would be better for America and the world. I can argue both sides with pretty much equal conviction.

I can’t see myself ever voting for Donald Trump, the person. I’m not sure I feel any better about Joe Biden. I imagine there are a lot of Americans with similar feelings.

It is going to be an interesting last week of the campaign.

One comment

  1. I’ve long disliked the reporting on the surveys and usually downplayed them when I was a newspaper editor. Stick to the facts, please, not the guesswork. Let’s examine policy and its execution.
    One thing I have noticed is that we’re not being pestered with phone calls the way we were in the past. I assume that reflects a shift away from landlines in most households, and cell phone usage no longer reflects actual area code assignment.
    I’m nervous about the projects when I see the campaign signs along streets and roads, but I do live in an overwhelming white and essential rural locale.

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