First impressions

Ira Lacher‘s takeaways from the presidential election. -promoted by Laura Belin

No matter how this election turns out, two things are certain:

1. Polling remains hopelessly flawed. The “Bradley effect” took hold once again, as it did in 2016. The theory is named after former Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, who lost the California governor’s race in 1982 despite hugely favorable pre-Election Day polling numbers. Reason: people tell pollsters what they want to hear instead of the perhaps socially unacceptable truth — like they beat their wives, smoke cigarettes or intend to vote for Donald Trump. And pollsters have never been able to account for that.

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A race that ends where it began

Dan Guild: Donald Trump’s presidency is defined by the stability of its unpopularity, and elections with incumbents are defined by perceptions of their job approval. -promoted by Laura Belin

I wrote at Crystal Ball in April that elections with incumbents are defined by perceptions of their job approval. In a post for this site in July, I suggested that Trump’s approval, and the sense across the country that things were out of control, reminded me of the difficulties that Jimmy Carter faced in his re-election.

On the eve of the election I find myself thinking about the parallel to 1980 again.

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Why the Selzer poll may be wrong

Dan Guild argues that Selzer & Co’s latest Iowa survey for the Des Moines Register and Mediacom may be missing a portion of the electorate. -promoted by Laura Belin

Talk to many Democrats about the election, and they will say, “I think Joe Biden is going to win, but the polls were so wrong last time.” There was, though, a notable exception to the list of flawed opinion polls from 2016: Ann Selzer’s final Iowa survey for the Des Moines Register

So when this year’s last Selzer poll shows Donald Trump winning Iowa by 48 percent to 41 percent, and Senator Joni Ernst beating Theresa Greenfield by 46 percent to 42 percent, people take notice. Selzer’s record within the polling community is arguably the best there is. How could she be wrong this time?

And yet, as I will show, I think she is.

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Youth vote could be decisive in Iowa, other states

Dan Guild digs into polling data for clues on how big an opportunity the youth vote represents–not just in Iowa, but in every close race across the county. -promoted by Laura Belin

In the aftermath of 2016, the press focused on a number of reasons for Hillary Clinton’s defeat. Rural voters were appropriately at the center of that discussion. Less discussed was what happened with those under age 30.

In the aftermath of that election, I researched the impact of young voters. I found that had Clinton carried the youth vote by the same margin as Barack Obama, she would have won 306 electoral votes.   

Exit poll data on the youth vote isn’t perfect, but even with its limitations, evidence suggests the decline in Democratic support among those between the ages of 18 and 29 was arguably the decisive factor in how Democratic margins declined from 2012 to 2016. 

More than a third of Donald Trump’s margin was made up from defections among those under 30 years of age. In Iowa, he won the youth vote.

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When it comes to the Senate, all roads lead to Iowa

Dan Guild: The Senate incumbent massacre that took place in 1980 seems more relevant to this year’s election with each passing day. -promoted by Laura Belin

It is clear that Iowa (along with North Carolina) is ground zero in the battle for control of the U.S. Senate. With Democratic control of the House almost a certainty given generic ballot polling, and Joe Biden the overwhelming favorite in the presidential race, I think the Iowa Senate campaign is the most important single race in the country. 

Without Iowa, a President Biden will find it difficult to get much accomplished (even if they do get to 50 seats in the Senate). With it, his margin to pass a public option for health insurance and act on climate change becomes much more manageable.

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Trump's long shadow and Iowa's pivotal Senate race

Dan Guild has “never seen anything like it. The president so dominates the landscape that senators don’t have a distinct political identity.” -promoted by Laura Belin

Selzer & Co. is out with a new Iowa poll for the Des Moines Register and Mediacom.  It found President Donald Trump tied with Democratic challenger Joe Biden, each supported by 47 percent of likely voters surveyed. 

Iowa is not considered likely to be decisive in the race for the Presidency. But it may be decisive in determining control of the U.S. Senate. Sabato’s Crystal Ball, for example, currently rates only two states as toss-ups: Iowa and North Carolina. Since they predict that the rest of the Senate will split 49-49, the importance of Iowa’s race is clear.

As Brianne Pfannenstiel reported for the Des Moines Register, both sides recognize just how important Iowa is: $155 million has been spent or has been committed to influence the outcome.

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