Election polling has been largely consistent since the pandemic hit the US: Joe Biden is the heavy favorite. But one historically accurate pollster is sticking to his own data, which shows a closer race than expected.
Raghavan Mayur is the president and founder of TechnoMetrica, which runs the IBD/TIPP poll. His polling predicted the winner of the past four presidential elections. IBD/TIPP was one of only two polls in 2016 that had Donald Trump beating Hillary Clinton. Mayur has received widespread praise for his accuracy, yet he still largely remains an outlier in 2020 polling.
‘I’m a small business guy — I don’t have the time to go around looking at what other people do,’ he told The Spectator. ‘I do what we do. And it has turned out to be pretty good. And I’m thankful to God that I do alright.’
The RealClearPolitics average as of Friday has Biden leading by 8 percent nationally. IBD/TIPP is currently updating its data daily, with results fluctuating in the past two weeks from Biden up nearly 9 percent to up only 2 percent to as of Friday, just under 5 percent. This data does not yet reflect the impact of Thursday night’s debate, which Mayur argued is of great importance, citing data showing that historically, 13 percent of voters change their minds in the last week of the election.
Historic trends are at the heart of Mayur’s polling philosophy. He expressed complete confidence in his methods last election cycle despite serving as an outlier in favor of Trump, telling the Washington Post in October 2016, ‘I am able to go to bed peacefully.’
‘I get so much news but I believe what I see in my data — and I was seeing a lot of enthusiasm for Trump in my data,’ he told The Spectator regarding 2016. ‘I don’t get intimidated just because some guys says there’s a 95 percent chance it would be Hillary. I trust my data more than what anybody and everybody in the world says. Can you believe the amount of guts I needed at that time? It could’ve finished my career.’
Mayur noted that Trump in 2016, like Obama in his two elections and Bush in 2004, had a significant advantage over his opponent in enthusiastic support. He sees a similar dynamic in this election too. While Trump’s base may not be as wide-ranging as Biden, data has consistently shown the president to have more enthusiastic support, which leads Mayur to believe his turnout could be strong enough to carry the needed battleground states. If Trump can keep the popular vote within 3 percent, according to Mayur, he has a strong chance at winning the Electoral College.
One factor that hurts Trump’s odds is his historic unpopularity that has been evident throughout his term. Some pollsters theorize that while Biden may not have a convincing level of enthusiasm, there may be enough enthusiasm against Trump to push the former vice president to victory. Mayur is not as convinced of this rather new theory though, noting his methods come from more of a positive standpoint based on recent elections.
Obama, he noted, won by 7 percent in 2008 with a significant advantage in enthusiasm. With this in mind, Mayur said he finds it hard to believe how Biden could win the popular vote by a larger margin than his former boss with less enthusiasm.
‘I’m fairly confident in what I’m doing,’ he told The Spectator. ‘I also have common sense. Really, you’re telling me it’s a 10-point race and expect me to believe that? The reason is you have to look at the history.’
Another aspect of Mayur’s data he said favors Trump is concerning issues of importance to voters. The IBD/TIPP poll asks voters about the importance of six different topics: economy, law and order, Supreme Court, COVID-19, healthcare, and race relations. The poll has consistently found the former three to be overwhelmingly more important to Trump supporters, while the latter three are overwhelmingly more important to Biden supporters. Overall, though, the poll has found there is more concern about the issues that play better to Trump. This, Mayur said, is a leading reason for why his polling has shown Trump cutting Biden’s lead in recent weeks.
‘I was getting a little cold feet, but now I got adjusted,’ he said of Trump’s recent momentum in the IBD/TIPP poll. ‘I just told myself, “whatever I see, I show.”’
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