HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — As your local election headquarters, News 19 has analyzed the top-graded polls from FiveThirtyEight.com to describe the state of the presidential race.
News 19 Political Analyst Jess Brown’s breakdown of the polls this week shows Democrat Joe Biden leading by 9 points over President Donald Trump. That’s compared to 3 point lead for Hilary Clinton four years ago.
News 19 political analyst Jess Brown has analyzed the A-graded polls from the fivethirtyeight.com website. The site started two decades ago by Nate Silver, who may be the most prominent statistician in the country, looks at and evaluates polls. Brown has outlined why he’s focused on those polls.
“He has evaluated, as best I can tell, over 400 polls looking at over 15 years of data,” Brown said. “He developed a grading system and roughly 3 percent of all the polls he evaluates — he gives this ‘A grade’ to.”
For the fourth straight week of Brown’s analysis, the polls show Biden leading.
The top graded polls conducted over the past two weeks shows the former vice president averaging 51.6 percent of the popular vote to President Trump’s 42.3 percent — with a sample of nearly 7,000 voters.
Brown said he’s never seen a presidential race with public opinion dynamics like this one, where one candidate’s support is so static.
“We have about 42 percent firmly committed to this President. And the needle simply never moves for that 42 percent,” Brown said. “But we’ve got now about 46 percent, maybe a few more, they’re against this President. And the campaign doesn’t matter for them either. I think we’ve probably reached a point now in the campaign where there’s only four or five percent vote left that’s flexible.”
As for the battleground states Brown said, “Two of them remain very competitive, North Carolina and Florida. Two of them lean Biden, but we can’t say they’re firmly in Biden’s camp, that would be Arizona and Pennsylvania. Michigan and Wisconsin, we’ve got to pretty much put them in the Biden column.”
Brown sees two potential problems with this year’s polls.
“They may be underestimating in my view, the turnout rates of groups that traditionally support Democrats,” he said. “But Brian, the flipside of that coin is that the Democratic vote may actually be less than you would otherwise have in spite of the higher turnout if many of these Democrats who have received ballots in the mail have not returned them or will return them in a timely manner.”
Brown was asked what he’d tell people over the next few days who ask for an election prediction:
“If they have to bet grandmother’s farm, that they should bet on Biden,” he said. “But I’ve watched voters long enough to know and polling, long enough to know, that it’s a game of probabilities, it can be affected by a lot of different factors.
“I think Joe Biden’s chances of winning the national popular vote are substantial. I think President Trump still has an outside chance of winning the Electoral College, but I think his chances of doing that this time, are lower than they were last time.”