USC poll that predicted 2016 win says Trump is on track for reelection

by Peter Heck · Oct 29th, 2020 8:41 am
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Last Updated Oct 30th, 2020 at 8:46 am

The poll that accurately predicted President Trump's 2016 election victory says he is on track for another electoral victory in 2020.

The University of Southern California group does not conduct state-level predictions for each presidential candidate, but instead bases its evaluations on what they call the "own-intention" and "social-circle questions."

"From our previous research on social judgements, we learned that people seem to know their immediate social circles quite well," the USC team said on its website. "Their answers about the distribution of income, health status — even the relationship satisfaction of their friends, family, and acquaintances — were often in the right ballpark."

The USC pollsters operate similarly to the Trafalgar group, which claimed in 2016 to take the "shy Trump voter" into consideration, a move that likely allowed Trafalgar's predictions to be much closer to reality than conventional polling agencies. Like Trafalgar, the USC team controls for "social judgements" of the voters.

"When we averaged the data from their responses across a large national sample, it provided a surprisingly accurate picture of the overall population," they said. "In all five of the elections in which we tested this question, the social circle question predicted election outcomes better than traditional questions about voters' own intention."

Those five elections included domestic races as well as international ones.

The pollsters acknowledged that it could turn out that "traditional polls are right and the ‘social circle' data is wrong," but their prediction of a Trump electoral victory is bolstered by Trafalgar's modeling that shows the president leading rival Joe Biden in key swing states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Arizona.


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