If the Polls Are Wrong

If the polls are right, Joe Biden will defeat Donald Trump in a landslide victory. But there are reasons to wonder if the polls are right, as this article by Jeremy Kahn at Fortune points out:

An analysis of the emotions being expressed on social media indicates that the upcoming U.S. presidential election may be a much closer contest than many commentators and pollsters believe.

That’s the conclusion of Expert.ai, a company with offices in Modena, Italy, and Rockville, Md., that uses an A.I. technique called “sentiment analysis” to understand the emotions being expressed in social media posts.

The company’s analysis puts Democratic candidate Joseph Biden ahead of President Donald Trump, 50.2% to 47.3%, a margin that is much narrower than the double-digit lead that Biden has over Trump in most national opinion polls.

Based on these polls, many political analysts and commentators are expecting that Biden may win a historic landslide. But Expert.ai’s A.I.-based analysis indicates the race may be much tighter than these human experts are expecting.

Expert.ai’s political forecasting model was successful in predicting that the U.K. would vote to leave the European Union in 2016. And academic research has shown that similar social media sentiment analysis would have better predicted Trump’s victory in the 2016 U.S. presidential election than polling data.

Trump was the focus of far more social media activity than Biden, accounting for almost 60% of all the posts Expert.ai analyzed, compared to slightly less than 17% for Biden. But Biden ranked higher in terms of positive emotions such as “success” and “hope,” while Trump scored higher on negative emotions such as “fear” and “hatred.”

The only positive emotion on which Trump scores better than Biden, according to a statement from Expert.ai, is “action.”

I continue to have no idea who will win the election. As I’ve said I think the primaries are badly in need of a do-over and I wish that “Neither of the above is acceptable” were a legitimate response in voting. But I also think the present circumstances in which both sides may think they will win and the only way that could not happen is by the other side’s cheating presents dangers, especially when there’s ongoing political violence in so many places coupled with social media that makes it so easy to mobilize.

10 comments… add one
  • Andy Link

    I’m skeptical that emotional analysis of public social media posts are a good proxy for election results, or even better than polling. Plus, a 50.2 – 47.3 split would still likely be substantial EC win for Biden.

  • My point isn’t about outcomes but about expectations.

  • CuriousOnlooker Link

    A 2.9% Biden lead in the popular vote based on 2016 leads to a substantial chance of Florida 2000 redux with multiple recounts; lawsuits; and disputes.

    In 2016; Clinton had a 2.1% lead in the popular vote. Pennsylvania and Wisconsin had Trump margins of 0.8% and Michigan had a margin of 0.2%.

    They must be pranking people with a prediction exactly where chaos would reign.

  • PD Shaw Link

    A few weeks ago, the county Democratic Chairperson held some sort of media event to complain about people stealing all of their signs. In particular, in an old money part of the city, personal security cameras caught people in a pickup truck taking signs in a twelve-square block area. Sign-stealing wasn’t new, but she complained that the extent of it was beyond anything they’ve experienced before. Her Republican counterpart voiced their own complaints, though the “us too” dynamic made in seem like the Democrats are getting it worse. But signage has picked up the last few weeks. A lot of early voting, the number voted in the county as of last week was equal to a quart of the total vote from four years ago.

  • CuriousOnlooker Link

    I just wonder if the tension is misplaced.

    Maybe it is me, but this November may be a relatively inconsequential election (as say compared to 2016).

    Compare the number of supreme court seats that may open up in 2021-2024 vs 2017-2020 (as seen in Oct 2016).

  • Compare the number of supreme court seats that may open up in 2021-2024 vs 2017-2020 (as seen in Oct 2016).

    Yep. It’s the same number. Justice Breyer is overdue for retirement. Both Thomas and Alito have signalled that they may retire.

    I also don’t recall sections of major U. S. cities declaring themselves independent of those cities or ongoing civil disorder at the time of the 2016 election. I think there are a lot of people who would like to return to the relative calm of the Obama presidency but it’s not going to happen.

  • CuriousOnlooker Link

    At 70, 72, Alito and Thomas are “middle age” for the court. Here are the ages the last 5 supreme court justices left. 80, 76, 79, 82, 87. O’Connor stated she would have served longer if her husband did not suffer from dementia.

    Life happens, but Thomas and Alito could serve until close to 2030.

    If Biden wins, Breyer retires but that could well be it. If Trump wins, he probably will do 0 nominations.

    This doesn’t account for possible court packing — but that’s a different topic.

  • TarsTarkas Link

    ‘As I’ve said I think the primaries are badly in need of a do-over’

    The Democratic primaries wouldn’t have been suck a complete screw-up if the Democrats had actually followed their own procedures and rules instead of on-the-fly changes. The Iowa caucuses, the California primary, the mass drop-out of candidates who might have taken votes from Biden BS.

    The election isn’t between Trump and Biden. It’s between Trump and Never-Trump. That’s where the enthusiasm is. And the legacy media and Social Media are so far in the tank for Never-Trump they’re coming out of the spigot. I trust no poll whatsoever. I consider a vote for Dementia a vote for Tyrant Xi. Is that who we want to run the US?

  • Greyshambler Link

    Well if Biden is elected they’d better watch the cookie jar.
    He’s been collecting on favors for so long he thinks the J on the jar stands for Joe.

  • steve Link

    “If Trump wins, he probably will do 0 nominations.”

    I think if he wins that at least one of the two above resigns so Trump can name another one and Repubs maintain power in SCOTUS.


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