NYT-Siena Obsessing Addendum

NYT-Siena Obsessing Addendum

Let me expand a bit on today’s Backchannel about that Times-Siena poll and polling issues more generally. I mentioned keeping an eye out for the delta between Likely Voter screens and Registered Voter ones. As we’ve noted a few times, this has become a consistent pattern in this presidential race: Joe Biden does substantially better in likely voter polls. And this isn’t an arbitrary difference. It’s not like saying Trump does better in the NYT-Siena poll than he does in the ABC-Ipsos one, so I prefer the latter. A Likely Voter screen is the pollster’s attempt to poll the actual voting electorate as opposed to the population of registered voters. So that distinction is very key. And if they diverge you really want to be doing better with Likely Voters, as Biden is.

For whatever reason this pattern wasn’t as clear with the Times-Siena poll as it has been in most other recent polls. But there were a couple examples where it was stark. In a direct match up (without 3rd party candidates) Trump was up by 7 in Michigan among Registered Voters. But Biden was winning by 1 among Likely Voters. That is a massive delta.

A lot of these NYT-Siena poll results are outliers compared to other recent polls. But they do agree with those polls in one key way. The race right now is basically tied in the Blue Wall states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. But Biden’s clearly behind in the southern tier, emerging swing states of Arizona and Georgia, Nevada too. That’s the headline that really captures the situation for this poll and most of the rest too: Tied in the northern tier states, with Likely Voters favoring Biden, and clearly behind in the South.

You see a lot of headlines that say, Biden’s behind in all the swing states. He’s not. That dichotomy is the real story.

That used to get you further than it does now because the northern states have lost electoral votes to the south in the latest census. If Biden wins all three northern states, he wins 270-268, assuming Trump wins one electoral vote in Maine and Biden wins the one in Nebraska.

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