On Saturday, the day after it was revealed that President Trump had contracted the coronavirus, a new poll from John Zogby Strategies was taken, and it showed something startling: former Vice President Joe Biden was leading President Trump by only two points, 49%-47%. Zogby’s July 8 poll found Biden leading Trump by seven points, 49% to 42%, while their August 29th poll found Biden leading by six points (48% to 42%).
The poll, which surveyed 1,006 “likely voters” across the nation, stated that Biden “is leading among Democrats 91%-8%, voters 18-29 years of age (60%-35%) and those 30-49 (50%-45%), as well as among women (56%-41%), Progressives (85%-15%), Liberals (85%-14%) and Moderates (58%-36%). He also leads among Hispanics … 61%-34% and Blacks (87%-11%).”
Trump, the poll wrote, “leads among fellow Republicans (94%-6%), voters 50-64 (53%-45%) and those over 65 (50%-47%). As of now, Mr. Trump is capturing a slight majority of Catholic voters (51%-46%), Evangelicals (68%-32%), Conservatives (78%-18%), and Very Conservative voters (92%-8%). He also is ahead among Whites (56%-40%) and parents of children under 17 living at home (54%-40%).”
Contrary to my own observations, it looks like the President has not been hurt by his debate performance nor his hospitalization. His 47% performance is actually one point higher than his vote percentage in 2016. For now, he appears to have consolidated his base of Whites, parents, conservatives, men, and his own party’s voters. Joe Biden looks as if he is on his way to doing the same with his base. His numbers among Hispanics are respectable but not quite at the 66%-67% he really needs. The same with Blacks. His 86% is better than our last poll but he needs to hit 90%, especially in those key battleground states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Georgia. His 60%-35% lead among young voters is about where he needs to be … Our last poll had Mr. Biden leading strongly among independents but now the two candidates are tied with 12% still undecided.
Zogby got 49 out of 50 states right in 2008; Douglas Samuelson wrote of Zogby’s 2016 prediction:
Three weeks before the election, despite Hillary Clinton’s double-digit leads in most polls at the time, he declared, “I can’t tell you who’s really going to win. Tell me who will vote, and I’ll tell you who will win. If we get around 132 million votes, as we did in 2008 and 2012, Hillary wins. If we get 121 million, as we did in 2004, Trump wins.”
We actually got around 126 million, giving Clinton about a 2 million vote lead. Shortly after Election Day, with 122 million votes counted, her lead was closer to 200,000. Several million non-voters, particularly Democratic-leaning people in the north central states, helped tip those states to Trump. So Zogby’s assessment looks quite accurate.
Zogby stated of his prediction of the 2016 presidential election:
Zogby did not poll the horse race after two weeks before the election, though our last poll had Clinton leading by 2 points. With that said, I think it was more a combination of a misunderstanding of how to read polls and a media that really wanted Donald Trump to lose — so much that they screened out any other possibility.
As for the inability to read polls, I think our expectations are too high. Even a poll the day before the election cannot capture the last minute decision-makers, and there are many that do not make up their minds until the day of the election. Polls are samples and have a margin of error we cannot forget. But I correctly read the trend-lines. The race was clearly tightening over the last week, especially in the battleground states. Thus, in New Hampshire, HRC had a 10-point lead 10 days before the election and that evaporated down to a tie just before the election. The same for North Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Florida. The trend lines suggested either a tightening race or Trump momentum.