A US Presidential polls update

Whatever anyone thought of the first Presidential debate it doesn’t seem to have yet halted Joe Biden’s gradual increases in support as measured by a variety of US polls.

His current position, in historical context, is further ahead of Trump than Hilary Clinton was at the same stage of the race and Trump is further behind Biden than any Republican candidate has been since 1996 when Bob Dole lost to Bill Clinton.

Meanwhile, Trump’s disapproval rate over his term so far is also higher – except for a couple of short blips in the George H.W.Bush and Jimmy Carter terms– than every President since Truman. His approval rating has never been higher than any President since WWII at any point in their time in office.

Currently his disapproval rating, according to the FiveThirty Eight averages, is 52.8% with an approval rate of 43.9%.

As of October 1 the FiveThirtyEight Presidential polling average gives Biden a 7.9% lead with an 80% probability of winning.

In terms of key states (the data not so robust here) it has Biden leading by 3.8% in Arizona; 2% in Florida; 7.1% in Michigan; 1.3% in the traditional swing state of Ohio; 5.7% in Pennsylvania; 7% in Wisconsin.

Trump is ahead in Iowa by 0.4%; and, just 1.7% in Texas – better than he was a month ago but further confirmation of how Texan demographics are changing. Texas is not yet all like Austin but Austin is no longer a progressive, tech heavy gay friendly outlier.

The Financial Times poll predictor is partly based on 538 data and is currently predicting 279 Electoral College votes for Biden and 125 for Trump – less than the 538 total College votes because of the number of States which it deems marginal.

The Economist has its own prediction tool and it’s currently showing an 88% chance of Biden winning the College and a 98% of winning the popular vote. Their Electoral College forecast is 337 votes for Biden and 201 for Trump.

The Washington Post polls are showing Biden with an 8% lead. Its individual State polling shows Biden ahead 8% in Pennsylvania; 7% Wisconsin; Michigan 7%, Arizona 5%; North Carolina 2%. The poll also highlights the 31% gender gap in Biden-Trump female voting intentions.

The Guardian polls have Biden ahead 2.2% in Florida; 5.6% in Pennsylvania; 0.4% in Ohio; 1.4% in North Carolina; 2.6% in Arizona; 7.1% in Michigan; and, 6.6% in Wisconsin. Its poll of polls has a 7.5% lead to Biden.

As for that debate an instant CNN poll showed 50% thought Biden had won and 28% Trump with the rest despairing. The poll is suspect as it was a very small sample skewed to Democrats. Other polls had a clearer message – more than 60% of watchers thought it was just plain terrible.

And as for The Australian’s  Greg Sheridan’s preferred election indicator – the betting odds – punters don’t seem to have Trump roaring back into contention as Sheridan claimed. The average odds as of 1 October imply a 60% Biden win likelihood and 40% Trump. Although as Trump’s chance of winning has declined the amount of money bet on him winning has apparently increased. This could explain the divergence between the opinion polls and the betting odds.

It could also suggest bookies have a better view than the polls, but it is probably an artifact of betting agency and punting strategies. For punters on a two horse race which has been unpredictable before a flutter at better than expected odds may be worth it for a variety of reasons.

On the other hand the betting agencies are better able to lay off their exposures by slight adjustments which make the odds on one candidate slightly better than expected. Moreover, given the overall size of gambling markets loss leaders on bets which will mainly come from insiders or occasional punters but which generate large amounts of publicity are probably worthwhile.

There are other impressionistic indicators of voting trends with the number of Democrats voting by mail already apparently higher than for Republicans. This could be an indicator of propensity to vote; Democrats wishing to make sure their votes are counted; or, Republicans put off voting because of Trump claims that it is rigged.

…..and that would be an ironic end to a Trump Presidency.