Despite what most polls suggest about the presidential election, former President Barack Obama says in a new ad the race for the White House is going to be close.
In the ad released Thursday by the Democratic National Committee, Obama urged Americans to join the millions who have already voted.
“It’s going to be close. It could come down to a handful of voters just like you,” Obama said regarding the fight for the presidency between Democratic nominee Joe Biden and President Donald Trump. “So I’m asking you to bring this thing home. Leave no doubt. Vote early.”
Obama will “soon” join his former running mate on the campaign trail, ABC News reported Tuesday.
An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released Thursday shows Biden up 11 points over Trump, the Republican incumbent. Averages of current polling data suggest a 10-point advantage for the former vice president, the New York Times reports. FiveThirtyEight, which aggregates polling, currently gives Biden an 87% chance of victory and notes that, as of Oct. 15, current polling indicates Biden has a better chance than Trump to win most swing states, including Georgia, Ohio, North Carolina, Arizona, Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.
But the polls were wrong in 2016, right? Sort of.
Polls were largely accurate when it came to the national vote. Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton was a predicted 3-point favorite over Trump in national polling averages on Election Day, and she won the popular vote by a 2-point margin, The Washington Post reported. But Trump’s victory in crucial swing states — including Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — did, however, contradict the majority of state polling that showed Clinton with a lead.
Based off that state polling, FiveThirtyEight gave Clinton a 71% chance of victory in 2016.
Still, this year’s polls suggest an even larger lead for Biden than Clinton had four years ago.
The Washington Post reported last week that, even if the discrepancy between state polls and the final result in 2016 holds true for 2020, Biden “would win the presidency, anyway.” Under those circumstances, Biden would win 335 electoral votes to Trump’s 203, with the former vice president capturing Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan — the three states that helped put Trump over the edge in 2016.
For Trump to win, The Washington Post reported, polls would have to underestimate his support by 8 percentage points.
Likability could also play a role. A Morning Consult poll in August found that fewer voters — and specifically independents — have an unfavorable view of Biden when compared to Clinton in August 2016.
Still, the Biden campaign is urging voters to avoid complacency. Jen O’Malley Dillon, Biden’s campaign manager, echoed Obama’s message in his new ad.
“There is still a long way to go in this campaign, and we think this race is far closer than folks on this website think,” she tweeted. “Like a lot closer.”
Trump’s team has pointed to the size of his campaign rallies to suggest the polls don’t paint a precise picture. The campaign has also said there are “shy” Trump voters who are hesitant to express support for the president in polls — but show up on Election Day — which explains his 2016 victory that shocked much of the nation.
But a study from Morning Consult found “no indication” shy voters are having a large impact on polling.
One of the president’s sons, Eric Trump, tweeted Tuesday “the polls are wrong” while sharing photos of rallies by Biden and Trump. Biden has intentionally kept the crowd of his rallies small due to the coronavirus pandemic.