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Saturday, August 15, 2020

The polls got battleground states wrong, too

When we point out the pollsters got 2016 wrong, the liberal excuse is the polls were within the magical margin of error on the fictional national popular vote. Within the margin of error is how pollsters say they were wrong.

But the polls also got the battleground states wrong, hilariously so.

On Election Day, Nate Silver -- who got every state right in 2012 and 49 right in 2008 -- gave his state-by-state forecasts.

He wrote, "Our win probabilities come from simulating the election 20,000 times, which produces a distribution of possible outcomes for each state."

20,000 times!

He based this on polls.

He listed 14 states.

He got 5 wrong.

All 5 went for President Donald John Trump instead of Hillary.

He missed Florida. He said Hillary would win by 0.7%. She lost by 2. He was off 2.7 points. But that was within the margin of error, so he would say the polls were right.

He missed Pennsylvania. He said she would win by 3.7%. She lost by 0.7%. He was off by 4.4 points.

He missed Michigan. He said she would win by 4.2%. She lost by 0.2%. He was off by 4.4 points.

He missed North Carolina. He said she would win by 0.7%. She lost by 3.7%. He was off by 4.4 points.

He missed Wisconsin. He said she would win by 5.3%. She lost by 0.7%. He was off by 6 points.

In the other 9 states, he missed his mark. He said Donald Trump would take Ohio by only 1.9%. He romped to victory by 8.1%. This meant it was not a battleground state.

On top of that, he got Maine's 2nd congressional race wrong. He said Hillary would win by 0.7%. President Trump won by 11.3% and picked up an Electoral College vote. Nate Silver was off by a whopping 12 points.

You may have noticed these errors all went one way.

Pollster bias or incompetence? It does not matter. They were wrong. And while Nate Silver can claim he got 45 of 50 right, most of the states were gimmes. According to him, only 14 were up for grabs. So everyone started out with 36 right -- or 72%.

The real average of the polls in 2016 was wrong, wrong, wrong.

We do not elect presidents by direct election. The Electoral College elects our presidents (and if they fail, the House does, as happened in 1824).

Nate Silver predicted a 67-vote win for Hillary. She lost by 77. He was wrong by 144 electors out of 538.

Maybe he should change the name of his site to

As for the polls, fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.


  1. At the risk of evoking the anger of Trollish commenters today, People have changed. They lie to the Pollsters the sample is skewed cell phones are now the norm not land lines.On line polls are suspect in general. there is no accuracy. Sampling is a night mare now.. Don knows this...
    42 states. Minimum..

    1. I'm thinking if Antifa starts that 50-day sit in (camp in?) outside the White House, coupled with the constant riots and the Biden policy positions that the president might enter 1972 territory.

    2. Robert Trump's death brought out the OSE on steroids.

    3. This, exactly. Banging on Nate Silver misses the point. His analyses are not very different from what anyone else looking at the polls can see. The problem is with the underlying polls themselves.

      If you listen to an interview with the head of the Trafalgar Group -- who was the most accurate pollster in 2016 and 2018 -- he outlines the practical problems with getting accurate polling nowadays: milennials don't want to talk on the phone, everyone is afraid of getting on a telemarketing or email list, nobody has time for a 30 question poll, etc.

      None of that is partisan conspiracy, just structural challenges to polling in 2020, all of which skew the results you're going to get. But pollsters aren't going to admit that, since they don't have ways around that (Trafalgar says they do, but doesn't reveal all the specifics).

  2. If I get called by a pollster, or any other surveyor, I always ask....Do I get paid for telling you my opinion?....they stutter and say no.....I say 'you are getting paid', your company is getting paid, someone is willing to pay all sorts of money to get MY opinion, and yet you won't pay me??? Never had one take me up and say they'll pay me....including Charter Cable, AT&T, etc..... You want my opinion....Gotta pay me to know what I think....

    1. They could pay me and I’d still lie.

    2. Hahaha!! Schlongy, my man!!!

    3. A week apart two pollsters asked questions for about 10 minutes. Last question, both pollsters: "What is your age range?" "Oh, sorry, we can't use your answers, we already have enough replies from your age group." Do pollsters only count those who give the right answers?

  3. I'm sticking with 46-4. I think The Surber should chronicle the predictions and post the winners at the beginning of his "Highlights of the Day" for a month. I'll take that over "Accordion Appreciation Month" by far and away!!!

    1. I kinda liked accordion appreciation month.

  4. Trump knows full well that he's headed for a landslide defeat. It's why he's trying to destroy the Post Office and supress the vote.

    I have no idea why he publicly admitted to rigging the election, but it's certainly going to turn off the 70% of Americans who aren't a member of his death cult.

    Republicans have always tried to monkey with the voting process, but they won't get away with it this time. Public sentiment on Trump's totalitarian scheme to destroy the USPS has backfired and now they're set to get as much money as they want.

    Trump continues yet again to step on rake after rake.

    1. Interesting fantasy world you live in, there. Last time I checked, ballot harvesting and fraud were Democrat specialties. And the are sooo interested in front loading it in November. Ypu should switch to decaf. Or up your meds.

    2. Ballot harvesting has typically been a Republican occupation. And Republicans are also more likely to commit in-person voter fraud.

      But you notably don't even bother to address Trump's stated goal to fix the election by crippling the postal service. I wouldn't defend it either, if I were you. It looks terrible and we now just like every other banana republic with an authoritarian ruler, rigging the election with pure glee.

    3. Funny how no one here is willing or able to defend Trump's USPS power grab and his publicly-stated effort to rig the election. I'm beginning to think that you all do indeed have some shame left.

    4. All he wants is to stop vote fraud. But keep drinking, it just makes you sillier.

    5. How does shutting down the Post Office stop voter fraud? Vote-by-mail is more secure and accurate than remote voting. And it's more likely that Republicans' will be suppressed.

      His actions are also slowing down our mail. This hurts businesses and prevents prescriptions from getting to veterans and elderly patients. In the middle of a pandemic and a recession.

      Crippling businesses, hurting veterans and the elderly, and pissing off everyone who is noticing that their mail is late.

      And it won't even help him. Might hurt him, in fact, as Republicans voters tend to be rural.

      And you all think this is a good idea? How is this in any way good for the country? It's not even good for Republicans.

    6. Hahahahahahahahahaha!

      Thanks for my belly laugh of the day.

    7. So you still can't defend or refute Trump's election interference.

      Tells me everything I need to know. Looks like you guys are definitely going to lose this battle.

    8. Ballot harvesting has always been a DimoKKKRat specialty. One Republican campaign tried it in NC, and the election got shut down as a result. The candidate withdrew and the election was rerun with a new GOP candidate. So far, when Dims have been caught, they just bluster about it and nothing is done. Vote fraud has been a Dim problem for decades. So, quit being a silly liar.

    9. Hey, look, Trump's little stunt is going to cost more Republican votes than Democratic ones. So I'm ok with his scheme to destroy the post office. Less Republican votes? I'll take it!

      At the same time, I'm really getting annoyed with my mail showing up late all because the toddler-in-chief is throwing a hissy fit about his poll numbers.

      So I'll put up with late mail for the next few months. It'll get him out of office and Biden can put things right in January.

      If he kills a few thousand elderly and veterans in the meantime as they struggle to get medication, well no big deal, right? It's not like you'll blame it on Trump anyway.

    10. President Trump is going to close down the mail-handling arm of the USPS and privatize delivery services. The writing is on the wall now that private parcel shipping companies have demonstrated their ability to get things done during this COVID hoax that backfired on you idiots.

      Suck it up. You wanted the indolent Indonesian imbecile's patently unlawful DACA EO to stand. The USSC ruled it "constitional," and here we are in the land of rule by decree. These decrees are agreeable to me, and they will keep on coming for at least the next nine years. Get used to it.

      When his resulting landslide reelection gets absolutely unbearable for you leftist filth squatting illegally this great nation, then jump, little froggy. There are few things that would help catapult this country to greatness more than your physical removal.

      Get to tha choppa!

    11. You misunderstand. I'm fine with him shutting down the USPS for the election. It'll hurt the Republican vote more than the Democratic one. So I'm good there.

      I'd be concerned about how totalitarian a move this would be if it weren't for the fact that I expect Trump to act like a tinpot dictator at this point. No wonder he and Kim Jong Un love each other so much.

      So shut down the USPS until Nov 4. Biden can build it back in January, and we're none the wiser. We'll kill a lot of veterans by doing so, but Republicans aren't really fans of military veterans anyway, so that won't be too big of a deal.

    12. It might be 42 states, but more likely, only 40.
      But ut will be a landslide

    13. You had your shot at dictatorship with the indolent Indonesian imbecile.

      He was tinpot.

      President Trump is anything but tinpot. Once he is free to dispense with the formalities, life will be hell for you and your kind. Either leave our shores or get used to it. There is no place for you here going forward.

      I had a friend whose toddler daughter liked to run away from him when they were in the local grocery store. It got downright dangerous as she got faster approaching three years old. One time, with the help of a grocery store employee, he hid from her when she ran off. The episode lasted maybe two minutes at most before his daughter started freaking out, but it broke her of that habit.

      Just as the BLM/Antifa rioters cannot begin to comprehend that defunding the police will mean the end of Antifa/BLM at the hands of lynch mobs from the communities they terrorize, you will never realize that alienating staunch supporters of the Bill of Rights as written for so long will end very badly for you. You made your bed. Those documents you so vehemently disparaged no longer protect you. Lie in that bed.

    14. "President Trump is anything but tinpot. Once he is free to dispense with the formalities, life will be hell for you and your kind. Either leave our shores or get used to it. There is no place for you here going forward."

      That reads like parody. "Trump is not a tinpot dictator! And once he is releected, he will hang all of his enemies in the town square!"

      Denying that your man has dictatorial tendencies, followed by a stream of dictatorial tendencies. You guys are a hoot.

    15. "It might be 42 states, but more likely, only 40.
      But ut will be a landslide"

      Is there anything behind that besides wishful thinking? Trump might be able to make a dent in the polls with his little Castro mail trick, but all signs point to him going down in November.

      Every single poll. Every metric (terrible economy, high unemployment, pandemic, racial unrest). There is literally nothing going for him except for the small base he has. Even in the rosiest of scenarios, no Republican or Democrat in the modern era can win all but 10 states.

      It just seems like you're lying to yourself to make yourselves feel better.

    16. The term "tinpot" indicates poor leadership capability. The word's association with "dictator" in popular culture does not change the meaning of "dictator." History has ample examples of "dictators" who demonstrated excellent leadership. That is exactly what you face here and now.

      It is just as your hero, Mao, said: "When you point at the moon, the dog looks at your finger."

      It is past time for you to get your affairs in order.

    17. Hey troll,

      You haven't cited ONE thing from ONE article or study. You are wasting your considerable breath.

    18. This yahoo oughtta ask Sen. elect Lyndon Johnson's ghos about ballot box 13; or Al Franken about his trunk votes...When Republicans win an election with a questioned vote total, they settle it legally with the Supreme Court's rubber stamp (e.g. Bush v. Gore, 2000). Signed, a D.i.n.o. ZB

    19. Anonymous: Seriously, do you really believe the nonsense you’re spouting? Leftists like you continuously deny reality as truth. Is that just a Saul Alinsky tactic or are you really that messed up?

    20. Simmer down now.

      A USPS mail truck parked on a street.
      A USPS mail truck. Image by F. Muhammad from Pixabay.

      A lot of fear and misinformation has been spreading throughout social media the past few days about the post office. People seem to think the sky is falling. But they’re missing a lot of important context.

      "I am here to tell you that yes, you should be concerned about the future of the United States Postal Service (USPS), but the whole sky isn’t falling quite yet."

    21. If Republicans are guilty of voter fraud why do democrats go to court to oppose every single attempt to clean up the voting process?

    22. If Republicans are guilty of voter fraud why do democrats go to court to oppose every single attempt to clean up the voting process?

  5. Gonna be a lot more states in play this time.

  6. The polls that said Hillary had a 91% chance of victory - were they 'within the margin of error' too?

  7. I don't always comment but when I do I talk methodology

    Angry has been called by pollsters a few times. In one election apparently Angry was in some "swing" or "bellwether" demographic that indicated which way a state would side in the quadrennial tribal warfare.

    Back then Angry was a good sport and played along. There are lots of questions during a real poll. And frankly respondents are just potential data points. It does not matter what you say around the questions and the answers themselves are sliced and diced data wise so that the Nates of the world can make their living on the science of modern prophecy.

    The methodology used appeared to my ants eye view to "select out" any fringe types. There are many many questions that are dog whistles for ultra right wing causes and even a few causes that are not so ultra right.

    The polls are not just wrong. they are wronger than they ever have been. And because many people are openly commenting and a few brave media souls are actively asking "what if 2016 happens again?". Right now people are freaking scared. I mean really really scared. I have had more than a few left types openly start to speak heresy question the Democrat embrace of the BLM mob. I only have a few data points but it seems to me that many urban liberals are NOT supportive of what is going on right now.

    This "maybe" is reflected in the polls tightening. But frankly they ALWAYS tighten as we quit talking to general people to registered voters to likely voters.

    Also don't forget that the whole "likely voter" algorithm was all Obama'ed up in 2008 and 2012. There were people who voted in those elections that may never vote again. "Maybe" that is it.

    I think the poll issue has all moved to being push polled to the point of only reflecting the party who pays the most for polls. Much like the magazine industry was corrupted by placed stories in Cosmo and the like.

  8. Among Nate Silver's more hilarious predictions from 2016:

    - he claimed Hillary had an even better chance to defeat Donald Trump in Wisconsin than in New Mexico!
    - he claimed Colorado would be a closer draw than Michigan and Wisconsin!
    - he claims Joe Biden has 50%+ of the national vote locked up! If that was the case, he'd be on every broadcast and every soft talk show, soaking in the adulation and personally pumping up the vote. It's a FAAAAAAAAAKE.

    The Dems are doomed, and they're not even trying to hide it now.

  9. Instead of doing it 20,000 times, how about doing it once right?

    But hey, if this dumb coterie want to watch Pas de Calais while the assault goes ashore at Normandy, who are we to complain?

    1. Splendid analogy. May I recommend "Hitler's Spies," by David Kahn? I recently re-read the book (copyright 1978).

      Chapter 26, "The Ultimate Failure," is all about how the Germans held on to their Pas de Calais illusion which cost them France in 1944 (pp. 479-520).

      Don Reed

  10. 50-0, baby. Hawaii will have multiple recounts - that absolutely NO ONE will care about - before calling for Mr. T.

    The LibCommie candidate, NOT JOE MAMA, y’all, will win DC. Like the prize for second in Glengarry Glen Ross.

  11. "...the liberal excuse is the polls were within the magical margin of error on the fictional national popular vote."

    Good thing we have the Electoral College system huh?