The "Tightening": When Dramatic Polls and Actual Votes Collide

The "Tightening": When Dramatic Polls and Actual Votes Collide

Photo by Gage Skidmore, License: Creative Commons

Photo by Gage Skidmore, License: Creative Commons

This is the last week before all votes are cast in this year's presidential election, and pollsters are hard at work trying to run the numbers and see who's up and who's down. Many polls are showing a "tightening" in the national numbers, and ABC's poll even showed a wild swing from a week ago when Clinton led Trump by 12 points to today, when she trails him by one.

But as President Obama often reminds us, the election isn't on November 8. The election ends on November 8. The election is now. Early votes are pouring in by mail and in person everywhere.

Polls do their best - the best they can - to account for these early votes. However, early voters tend to have one thing in common. Having exercised their franchise, they don't care so much about taking pollsters' calls. That trend is probably enlarged by the current political season, which so many people cannot wait to be over.

Take the aforementioned ABC poll, for example. It shows a 5 point loss for Clinton compared to a week ago, (50 vs. 45) and an 8 point gain for Trump in the same period (38 vs. 46). The same poll shows that 21% of those polled already voted, which the poll finds Hillary Clinton is winning by a wide 16-point margin. When these numbers are factored in, even this poll, being touted as bad news for Clinton, shows her with an already-baked-in 3.4-percentage point lead in the broad electorate. (16% margin among 21% of those who already voted = 3.4% of total voter universe). This means that Donald Trump would have to beat Hillary Clinton by more than 4.3 points in the remaining votes to just draw her on election day.

That margin isn't a fluke of one poll.

According to CNBC, some 23 million Americans had already cast their ballots by Halloween. Data published by New York Times shows Hispanic early voting is significantly up, and a Reuters poll has Clinton ahead by 15 points among early voters. For number nerds, that means Hillary Clinton has already built an almost 3.5 million vote lead. Oh, and early voting in Texas is breaking records.

The truth is that while polls and pundits are procrastinating about about the fallout from James Comey's foray into election season (which isn't having a measurable impact in swing states), people are already voting. And among those who are voting, Hillary Clinton is running away with a 15-point margin.

And I guarantee one thing: if early votes keep up this way, Clinton can run up such a margin that it will be insurmountable no matter what Trump and Republicans do on election day to try to disenfranchise voters.

Let's keep it up. Because when all is said and done, only one thing will matter: what did we, as citizens, do to turn America back from the verge of electing a racist, misogynistic raving lunatic?



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