Nate Silver Dismisses ‘The Polls-Were-Wrong Storyline’ From Election

FiveThirtyEight’s Silver says the way the polls shook out in the 2020 election were “pretty normal by historical standards”

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Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight dismissed “the polls-were-wrong storyline” from the 2020 election, saying in a post on the site that, actually, they were “pretty normal by historical standards.”

He wrote Wednesday, “On the one hand, I don’t entirely understand the polls-were-wrong storyline. This year was definitely a little weird, given that the vote share margins were often fairly far off from the polls (including in some high-profile examples such as Wisconsin and Florida). But at the same time, a high percentage of states (likely 48 out of 50) were ‘called’ correctly, as was the overall Electoral College and popular vote winner (Biden). And that’s usually how polls are judged: Did they identify the right winner?”

Silver went on to say that “the margins by which the polls missed — underestimating President Trump by what will likely end up being 3 to 4 percentage points in national and swing state polls — is actually pretty normal by historical standards.”

Conservative pollster Frank Luntz believes the 2020 election results could signal the end for people like him. “The political polling profession is done,” Luntz told Axios last week. “It is devastating for my industry.”

By last Wednesday morning, votes were not yet fully counted in a handful of key battleground states and there was no indication whether incumbent Republican President Donald Trump would win re-election or if Democratic nominee Joe Biden would prevail. Biden went on to be called projected president-elect four days later.

The polls leading up to last Tuesday’s election did not predict that. Most predicted a Democratic blowout. Biden was ahead by double digits in some swing state polls that later showed a much tighter race between the two candidates. On the day before Election Day, MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough cautioned Democrats against believing in that polling.

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