Wednesday, September 09, 2020

Interesting Presidential Poll

In 2016, I asserted that Hillary Clinton had a polling credibility problem leading up to the election. Specifically, I asserted that in states where she didn't hold at least a 5-point lead, she was probably in trouble. In my last post, I explained why I think Joe Biden has a similar, but probably smaller, problem.

Could Donald Trump have the same problem? Could there be an anti-Trump fragment demographic that's bigger than the polls suggest?

My ears perked up this morning while listening to the latest episode of the FiveThirtyEight Politics Podcast when one of the hosts mentioned a poll that has Trump only five points up in Missouri.

Trump's average lead in Missouri, per RealClearPolitics, is a fairly safe-looking 7.7 points, but if the race is tightening up there it's bad news for him.

In the ten presidential elections since 1980, Missouri has gone Republican eight times. The two exceptions were Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996. The state has gone Republican every time since 2000. If it's truly in play this year, and I was a GOP flack, I'd be very worried.

I'm not sure it is truly in play, though. My guess would be that pollsters are over-sampling St. Louis City, St. Louis County, and Jackson County (Kansas City) versus the remaining, more rural 111 counties in the state. In 2016, those three counties, plus Boone County, were the only counties carried by Hillary Clinton.

I was recently in Greene County, Missouri.

The county seat, Springfield, is Missouri's third largest city. My recollection is that historically Democrats usually did well in the city, and occasionally even carried the county. In 2016, Trump whipped Clinton in Greene County by a margin of 60.6% to 33.2% (Gary Johnson knocked down 4.5%, Jill Stein 1.1%, Darrell Castle 0.5%).

As of late August, I saw pickup trucks flying Trump flags, Trump/Pence 2020 signs and bumper stickers galore, etc. In the city, not in outlying rural areas. So anecdotally, I have to say I don't think Trump's support is going soft in Missouri, either in terms of raw numbers or in terms of enthusiasm, i.e. Getting Out The Vote. I think it would take king-hell turnout in the two largest urbs to get Biden within striking distance.

I'm definitely keeping Missouri in the Trump column for now. It would take several close polls, by several different organizations, to get me to move it to "toss-up" territory.

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