Monday, May 23, 2016

Psephology for fun and profit

A prominent Australian newspaper columnist thinks it's newsworthy to report that an opinion poll gives presumptive Republican presidential nominee a 46 per cent favourability rating, compared to his likely opponent, Hillary Clinton, who has a 44 per cent rating.

Historically speaking, polls at this point in the electoral cycle are not a reliable indicator of general election results. Back in February and March 1980, Ronald Reagan trailed President Jimmy Carter by 15 points in opinion polls. Reagan won the presidential election in a 44 state landslide. In May 1988, Democrat Michael Dukakis was 10 points ahead of George Bush in opinion polls. Bush went on to convincingly win that year's election. More recently, in October 2012, Mitt Romney was 7 points ahead of Barack Obama in opinion polls, but still lost convincingly to Obama in the general election.

I'd be very surprised if Trump wins the election, but I'm happy to be proven wrong, either now or on election day. All Hillary Clinton has to do to win is to get all of Barack Obama's voters to vote for her, and she's a shoo-in.

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