Monday, October 24, 2016

Why the IBD/TIPP Poll is Wrong This Time Around

By now you've heard that the Trump campaign is touting the recent polling by Inventor's Business Daily as evidence that they are actually ahead in the polls; and, further, that all the other polls are wrong. Their evidence? IBD has been the most accurate pollster over the last three presidential elections, according to them. And as of Monday, IBD had Trump leading 43 to 41 in a four-way race*.

And Investor's Daily, for their part, has proudly repeated this claim. So I decided to check it out for myself by going back to the 2008 and 2012 elections. Is the Trump campaign and Investor's right in their assertion? Well, not quite. Here's why.

In 2008, Barack Obama beat John McCain by 7.3 points (52.9 to 45.6). The final RCP polling average was 7.6 points (52.1 to 44.5). IBD had Obama up 8 points (52 to 44). On first look, you'd probably think IBD was spot on.

There's only one problem. Most of the polling was pretty spot on that year. In fact, the pollster that came the closest to the actual margin of the election was, oddly enough, Fox News, which had him up 7 points (50 to 43). NBC News/Wall Street Journal also had Obama up 8 points. The range was from 2 points (Battleground Tarrance) to 11 points (Gallup and Reuters).

In 2012, the polling was a bit more inconsistent. That year Obama beat Mitt Romney by 3.9 points (51.1 to 47.2). The final RCP polling average, though, showed Obama with a slight .7 point lead. (48.8 to 48.1). I remember going to bed election eve night thinking Obama might be a one-term president.

IBD had Obama up by a point (50 to 49). Not bad. Until you look at the other polls and find that ABC News/Washington Post had him up by 3 points (50 to 47), which, as it turns out, tied them with Pew Research as the closest to the actual result. Three pollsters had the race tied, including CNN, and Gallup had Romney with a one point lead.

So, far from being the most accurate pollster in both elections, IBD appears to have been in the middle of the pack. Good, but hardly the stuff of legends.

Which brings us to 2016. The RCP average, as of now, shows Hillary Clinton ahead of Trump by 5 points in the four-way race (44.9 to 39.9) Included in that average are polls by Rasmussen and IBD, which show her trailing by 2 points and ABC News, which shows her up by 12. Apart from the LA Times, which shows the race tied in the head to head poll, but has been polling the same sample voters for the past three months, every other pollster shows Clinton with a sizable lead, including Fox News, which has her ahead by 6 points.

Either IBD knows something that everyone else doesn't, or their polling is flat-out wrong. I'm going with the latter here. The fact is that the RCP average corresponds with much of what we see in the state polling, including the all-important swing states, which show Clinton with a commanding lead in enough of them to get her across the finish line. Indeed, Clinton is polling better than Obama did at this point in 2012, and almost as well as he did at this point in '08. This puts her on track for an electoral college win somewhere between 330 and 365 votes.

How bleak are things in Trumpland? This is how bleak: Rush Limbaugh, the gas bag of the Right, won't stick his neck out like he did in 2012, when he confidently predicted Romney would win. You know your goose is cooked when you can't even count on Limbaugh to back your paranoid delusions.

Look, I get it. Anything can happen. We've still got two whole agonizing weeks to go until this race is over. And it's not like Clinton is FDR or something. As I've mentioned several times, she's a flawed candidate running against a sociopath. In the end that might just be her ace in the hole.

Then again, maybe IBD is right and we're all fucked.

* IBD now shows the race tied.

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