Gee Thanks, Nate

Famed “celebrity pollster” Nate Silver just gave us all the green light to talk election polling now that Labor Day passed. How thoughtful.


Snark aside, his comments make sense as we are 9 weeks away from election day plus early voting already started in some states and will kickoff in most states within 6 weeks. Plus both Zoom addled conventions are over.


So lets talk. Most political sites identity a 7 point Biden lead. Polling or political sites average or aggregate several polls in reaching the national average. This hopefully smooths out any biased or weirdly structured polls. That said, all major polls give Biden a lead of 2 to 12 percent.


Now for the caveats:


1. Of course, we know the national results matter less than each state. The presidential election is truly 51 separate elections each offering a winner take all format save Maine and Nebraska.

2. Also, I know some folks are polling agnostics or outright atheists. They believe all polls are biased or wrong.

3. And 2016 adds weight to that argument as Trump won even though the polls had him trailing the entire general election. granted, he did lose the popular vote which fell within the margin of error.

4. Final caveat-expect Trump to out-perform the polls by 2.5-3%.


That’s the national view. We will look at swing states starting tomorrow.

18 responses to “Gee Thanks, Nate”

  1. It’s interesting that so many people thought Trump was destined to win even though he dragged in the polls for so long, and his approval rating was under 50%.

  2. It’s interesting to read about poll predictions and the “correct” timing to talk about election polling. I never really thought that there was a “correct” or “appropriate” time to do so, but I followed the link and read that article to have a better understanding. Like I said, very interesting!

  3. thank you for this information, and I would like to give a special thank you to Nate for letting the polling celebration offically begin. Overall, I think the election was a lot closer than anybody expected which begs the question, are polls accurate?

  4. Nate Silver is a statistician on This blog post refers to him as a “celebrity pollster”, and says that he gave the green light to start discussing the election polling now that Labor Day as passed. I expected for this election to end differently than it did. Something that I didn’t realize was that the national results matter less than each state.

  5. “Gee Thanks, Nate”
    This blog is relevant to the course because it talks about the election which we have talked about a lot in class this semester. The current event mentioned in the blog talks about smoothing out any biased or weirdly structured polls and that the state elections matter more than the national results of the voting. It also talks about trump winning even though he was falling behind in the polls and he lost the popular vote. The whole blog talks about how voting works and some examples of different types of things that have happened in oast elections and what the guidelines are when people vote. I chose this article because I never really knew how elections worked and I was curious about the things that have happened in past elections based on percentage and things like that. I would address the problem of election pollen not being able to be discussed before a certain date by making sure that elections fair and not to be messed with. People should all be able to vote after they turn 18 no matter where they live. I think it is wrong that there are still people in the 21st century who are still not able to have a voice and vote.

  6. I really liked this post because it was very in-depth and makes me start to think about all these topics. It’s really interesting to see how many bits and pieces go into an election and how many different things can change the outcome of the election.

  7. Good way to put it. I wasn’t caught up in politics when the elections were happening, but the separations that you did and explaining the elections functioned well.

  8. I personally liked how you pointed out the fact about “…The presidential election is truly 51 separate elections…” It was so true for this election and is a great thing to understand about how complex this county can be. It was a stressful time honestly while all this was going on with all the deciding of the results. I enjoyed this post and I found it enlightening to some good points.

  9. The election is a common theme on this blog. as it has been in conversation throughout our nation, which is why this post is so relevant. There has been so much debate on if the election was rigged, recounts, a raid on the capitol, riots. This election was so crazy! we must remember to keep our heads and respond as calm adults i think is a big thing this election taught us. Hopefully our country heals from the social division soon.

    This election will live on i history due to it’s out of the ordinary surrounding events. We need to rpay for our country and be a part of the solution to divide now more than ever.

    Christian Fleming

  10. As I mentioned in a previous comment, my family is very republican. If you ask them about the election, they will tell you that Trump should have won by a landslide. Now that the election has passed, they are certainly falling into the category of “polling atheists” and believe that the polls were corrupt and incorrect. All that being said, it is so weird to read now, that Biden was expected to win the whole time. I am not from Dallas or Austin so I grew up in one of the many red parts of Texas and they just do not talk about the democrat nominees fondly, so even I was shocked by the results this past year. It was very interesting and almost a little bizarre to read this blog and realize this bit of truth to the election. Without reading this blog, I probably never would have known this information.

  11. Although I was pretty lost throughout the article, it was interesting trying to correlate what we have been learning in class and what this post was talking about in regard to how polling works. Though i’m still not as well versed as I would like to be on this topic, this post definitely fueled my curiosity that much more.

  12. Reading about polling predictions and the “proper” time to discuss elections polling is interesting. I also never thought that politics or elections would be this interesting. I alson never thought I would be the person to find stuff like this interesting but I really do. Very intriguing!

  13. This piece was quite detailed and got me thinking about many things, so I really loved that. It’s fascinating to observe how many small details go into elections and how many various factors can affect the results.

  14. Personally it was interesting trying to connect what we have been learning in class and what this post was talking about in reference to how polling works, even though I was very lost throughout the article. Even though I still don’t know as much about this subject as I would like to, this piece has piqued my interest.

  15. What puzzles me is the realization that numerous individuals both average citizens, and those that study the statistics surrounding each poll continue to portray a pessimistic view towards Trump because they believe in error and corruption. Yet when a democratic candidate wins, even with the underlying knowledge of the margin of error within the polls, there is an extreme lack of pessimistic attitude portrayed to them as there is towards Trump. The is probably very closely related to the fact that most journalists and media outlets are Democratic leaning.

  16. I am curious how accurate polls are. Can’t wait to see the next election, Dr. Sullivan has definitely provided good insight on politics!

  17. It’s interesting reading this post after the fact and being able to look back on this election already knowing the results. I love how you use the term ’51 separate elections’ because it makes the most sense in my mind when comparing it to the overall popular vote. I am curious about Maine and Nebraska, however. I wonder if other states will get rid of the ‘winner take all’ format and how drastically it will change election results if they do.

  18. I wonder if there would ever be a way to get a truly accurate polling sample which appropriately predicts the current attitudes of the voters? It is highly improbable. I find it frustrating, then, when pundits use polls almost as a, “Look who’s right. Look who everyone else thinks you should vote for.” Polls should probably be taken with a major spoon of salt in the realm of predictions beyond just getting a general sense (like if it is a landslide for example) of voter feelings, if not discarded entirely.

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