G. Elliott Morris Profile picture
Data-driven journalist @TheEconomist. Writing a book about polls and democracy @wwnorton (out fall 2021). Blog/newsletter: https://t.co/jhDR4O2kWn.
eDo Profile picture Marcelo Martinelli Profile picture jimrothstein Profile picture 3 added to My Authors
2 Jul 20
Here's just a straight average of national polls in years with incumbent presidents on the ballot. President Trump's numbers are worse than Jimmy Carter's at this point during the 1980 presidential campaign, nearly as bad as Gerald Ford's in 76. Not exactly in great company...
Here's the same graph but for the full election year and only since 1980. You can see that game-changing events DO happen between now and the election, but they're very rare.
3/3 And if you limit the graph to just the polarized era, you can see that Trump's numbers are pretty unprecedented.

Since 2000, no candidate has ever come back from this type of position in the public polls.
Read 3 tweets
17 Jun 20
Given Biden is up 8 nationally, the only way you can come up w/ a prediction for the election that doesn’t have him favored ~80%+ of the time is to ignore polls or to analyze them incorrectly. Maybe they’ll be wrong, but they’ve been pretty accurate in the past & are a good bet.
Our forecast is maybe even a bit NICE to Trump right now, given that the model thinks Biden will lose ground b/t now and Nov and constrains the possible outcomes to a reasonable range for the polarized era. If we just use polls, his win % could be 90%+.

Polls in 2016 showed that a modest polling error in Trump’s favor could result in his winning the electoral college. That’s what happened! Now, polls show that you’d need a polling error bigger than those in 80-90% of past elections!
Read 8 tweets
13 Jun 20
Our presidential election forecast finds that Democrats might have to win the national popular vote by 3 percentage points or more to be favored to win the electoral college: projects.economist.com/us-2020-foreca…
Read 2 tweets
12 Jun 20
I am going to use Twitter as a diary of sorts to explain what happened with our presidential election forecast (and why) on most days between now and November 3rd.

A thread:

June 11: The chance of a Biden victory increased from 83 to 85%. Most of this was caused by a Biden+13 & Biden+8 poll nationally (both weighted by past vote), and a D+3 poll in FL.

Trump’s approval ratings also decreased today, dragging down our prior.

June 12: Not much movement in the forecast. The topline probability is the same. Biden’s polling margin shifted up 0.1 in FL, AZ, and GA.

The polling average in OH went from blue to red, but the e-day forecast is still red. Worst numbers for Trump yet.

Read 26 tweets
11 Jun 20

The Economist's forecasting model for the US presidential election is now live! We think Joe Biden has around a 5-in-6 shot at winning the presidency.

Three links to be aware of:

1. Here is a piece explaining what the model says today: economist.com/united-states/…

2. Here is the methodology: projects.economist.com/us-2020-foreca…

3. We have open-sourced the code for the model. You can download it here: github.com/TheEconomist/u…
Here's the electoral map as we start the year in earnest. The model thinks Joe Biden is favored to win about 331 electoral votes come November.
Read 17 tweets
31 May 20
I have been trying to process this week’s unrest through the historical lens of the (GOP-driven) politicization of protests against police brutality & the corresponding political importance of (white) racial rage & some things have become very clear to me on what happens next. 1/
2/ Seems like lots of people are falling into Trump’s familiar trap of making the criminal murder of a black man by the police into a radicalized issue of riots and “law-and-order” that will only end up helping him consolidate votes among racist whites and ethnocentrists.
3/ That’s 1 of the reasons why I think we’ve seen community activists stress that long-term progress will come from nonviolent protests. When ppl start arguing about rioters they agree to Trump’s strategic politicization & surrender the high ground (police shouldn’t kill people).
Read 14 tweets
19 May 20
These results are consistent w/ Biden leading Trump nationally by ~8 points, the worst margin for an incumbent president at this point in the election cycle going back at least to the 1940s. Reconcilable only with Biden's odds being much higher than Clinton's at this pt in 2016.
This + the AZ poll today make clear that Trump is a huge underdog for November, and narratives otherwise are not supported by the data
Sorry folks, this just isn't right -- at this point in 2016 Clinton was polling ~3 points ahead of Trump. Biden is up by 8 today
Read 4 tweets
4 May 20
I want to share a bit of polling data with y'all. Over the weekend, I cooked up an average of the last 2 months of polls in every state. Then I trained a model to project polling averages in states that don't yet have any actual polls. The results are here. Preeeeetty blue...
I also programmed a little toy election simulator based just on these projections. It generates national, regional and state-level polling errors given the empirical distribution of error in polls fielded this far before an election. Pretty blue...
Tipping-point probabilities....
Read 7 tweets
30 Apr 20
#NEW from me: The Economist is now publishing state-level estimates of 2020 vote intention based on my analysis of our our polling data from YouGov. Let me explain how this model works & what it tell us about what might go down in November. THREAD economist.com/united-states/…
The problem: National polls can mislead us about what might happen in POTUS elections. That's b/c there can be large gaps between how left- or right- leaning competitive states are compared to the country as a whole—& the electoral college elects the POTUS, not the popular vote.
State-level polls are also few and far between these days, and many still haven't fixed the problems that caused SOME of them to misfire in 2016 (no education weights being the biggest issues). We think that a lack of weights for political lean could be a similar issue this year.
Read 20 tweets
23 Apr 20
THREAD Covid-19 is spreading from America's cities to its exurbs & rural heartland. Which areas are likely to face the worst of it?

We modeled the disease's fatality rate & find the South & Appalachia are particularly vulnerable. Policymakers, take note. economist.com/graphic-detail…
Who we think is vulnerable to covid-19 is based on many factors, including their age, underlying health conditions, access to health care and recent exposure to potentially infected people. We acquired data on these indicators as well as case and death counts for every US county.
We're primarily interested in who is susceptible to dying from the virus, rather than just contracting it. This is called the fatality rate, & although we only have data on detected (vs all real) cases, we think the CFR is a good approximation for actual infection fatality rate.
Read 12 tweets
12 Apr 20
The American far-left refusing to enter partnerships and engage in strategic bartering with their analogous in the dominant two-party system will doom any chance they have to wield actual influence influence over politics and policymaking at a national scale.
And again, I think it’s a deeply unserious attitude that not participating in the political system at all is better than supporting a deeply flawed but proximate candidate in a two-person race. Why sacrifice all your agency when there is still a preferable outcome on the table?
I will say that Sanders and his closest allies seem to understand these tradeoffs. Of course, Sanders has been fighting this battle for 40 years in Congress, so we should expect him to know better than DSA types how to actually achieve political goals.
Read 3 tweets
18 Mar 20
New polling on media attention and #covid-19 from YouGov and The Economist:

% who say they are worried about the virus, by media they most pay attention to:

MSNBC: 74%
National newspapers (NYT/WaPo): 72
CNN: 71
Broadcast news: 68
Local news: 57
Radio: 49
Fox News: 38
% who say they disapprove of how the president has handled coronavirus, by where they get the most news:

MSNBC: 89%
National newspapers: 85
CNN: 83
Local newspapers: 58
Broadcast news: 47
Local TV news: 39
Radio: 49
Fox News: 8
% who say the coronavirus is going to cause a recession:

CNN: 75%
National newspapers: 72
Broadcast news: 65
Local newspapers: 62
Radio: 57
Social media: 50
Local TV news: 44
Fox News: 30
Read 7 tweets
26 Feb 20
Here is a fun diagram.

I took 2k responses to our polling on the Dem primary with YouGov and told my computer to place candidates in a 2-dimensional space depending on how likely they are to share voters.

It spit this out. Note Gabbard/Steyer's extremity, Warren's centrality.
Another way of visualizing this pattern that's less mind-bending:
Read 2 tweets
19 Feb 20
#NEW poll of the 2020 Democratic primary from The Economist and YouGov:

% support among likely voters (change vs last week)

Sanders: 24 (3)
Biden: 18 (0)
Warren: 16 (1)
Bloomberg: 12 (0)
Buttigieg: 11 (1)
Klobuchar: 7 (0)
Steyer: 2 (1)
Gabbard: 2 (-1)
Compared to last week, our poll shows a big dip in Bloomberg's viability, and a modest increase in the share of Democratic primary voters who say they'll consider voting for Amy Klobuchar.
Share of Democratic primary voters considering voting for each candidate (pooled over the last month):

Sanders: 45%
Biden: 45
Warren: 45
Buttigieg: 29
Bloomberg: 26
Klobuchar: 22
Steyer: 13
Gabbard: 6
Read 7 tweets
18 Feb 20
So far for 2020, handicappers have been laser-focused on how Obama-Trump voters say they're going to vote in Nov. I think they should be equally, if not more, concerned with how moderate Democrats (IE: Romney-Clinton and voters) feel and how that varies by potential Dem nominee.
Spoiler alert... I have the answer, but the data are embargoed ;)
I hear this argument a lot; "Sanders does better with non-voters!" people say, "so he just needs to get them to vote!"

That's, *REALLY* tough to do, so the relevant group is not non-voters but infrequent voters -- people who dropped off b/t 2012 & 16
Read 3 tweets
11 Feb 20
A little thread on The Economist's 2020 Democratic primary polling aggregate, which is showing a big dip for Joe Biden today, but maybe one that's not as large as some people are expecting.

Throughout the 2020 primary so far our model has been a bit more "conservative" than others (see: RCP, 538) in calculating each candidate's support. Those smoother trends come from a few sources:
First, by design, our aggregate (henceforth called 'the model', as it's really a model of latent voter opinion) needs multiple polls before it decides to shift estimated support for a candidate. This makes it less sensitive to outliers and avoids reacting to noisy data. Why tho?
Read 22 tweets
5 Feb 20
#NEW poll of the 2020 Democratic primary from The Economist and YouGov:

% support among likely voters (change vs last week)

Biden: 24 (-2)
Sanders: 19 (-5)
Warren: 18 (-2)
Buttigieg: 9 (2)
Bloomberg: 9 (4)
Klobuchar: 6 (1)
Yang: 3 (-1)
Gabbard: 3 (0)
Steyer: 2 (1)
Bennet: 1 (1)
Which candidates are Democrats considering voting for? (These numbers are from the past month of polls)

Biden: 48%
Warren: 47%
Sanders: 45%
Buttigieg: 28%
Bloomberg: 22%
Klobuchar: 20%
Yang: 16%
Steyer: 12%
Gabbard: 6%
Bennet: 4%
Patrick: 3%
Who would Democrats be disappointed in as the nominee?
(These numbers are from the past month of polls)

Gabbard: 43%
Bloomberg: 29%
Patrick: 23%
Biden: 23%
Steyer: 22%
Sanders: 22%
Bennet: 21%
Buttigieg: 19%
Klobuchar: 17%
Yang: 17%
Warren: 16%
Read 3 tweets
2 Feb 20
The Economist’s polling with YouGov finds that on the eve of the Iowa Caucus, Sanders is only winning 41% of the voters who cast ballots for him in the 2016 primary nationally
A big weakness for Sanders is that he’s only polling at 9% among 2016 Clinton primary voters, who make up about half of Democrats
Another way of saying this is that Sander’s base is made up of roughly 70% of people who voted for him last time and 30% who voted for someone else.

Biden’s voters are even more lopsided, about 85% Clinton voters/15% someone else.

Warren’s are the most balanced.
Read 5 tweets
30 Jan 20
#NEW from me: What would happen if the Democrats instituted a national primary using ranked-choice voting? I got the data from @YouGovUS and crunched the numbers:

@YouGovUS We had YouGov ask over 2,000 Democratic voters to rank all the 2020 candidates over the past month. We used those responses to simulate ranked-choice voting in the primary.

How does RCV work, you ask? Just a reminder....
@YouGovUS 0. Count up all the ballots
1. Did someone win a majority of the vote? If yes, they win. If not....
2. Anyone who listed the last-place candidate gets their votes redistributed to their next-ranked option.
3. Re-tally the votes and repeat 1-2 until someone gets a majority.
Read 10 tweets
30 Jan 20
#NEW I wrote about "electability" and the 2020 Democratic primary for the paper this week. We combined political science and polling data and found that a moderate Dem with strength among working-class whites has the best chance against Trump.


The 2020 election is likely to be close. Trump's approval rating & GDP growth suggest that he'll win about 49% of the two-party vote, per our modeling. He's clearly competitive, especially when Democrats need to win the popular vote by about ~2.5pts to win the electoral college.
So the "electability" of the candidates is a particular concern for Democrats.

So what do we know about who is more likely to win general elections?
Read 13 tweets
29 Jan 20
#NEW poll of the 2020 Democratic primary from The Economist and YouGov:

% support among likely voters (chg vs last week):

Biden: 26 (-3)
Sanders: 24 (6)
Warren: 20 (-1)
Buttigieg: 7 (-1)
Klobuchar: 4 (0)
Bloomberg: 4 (-2)
Yang: 4 (0)
Gabbard: 3 (1)
Steyer: 1 (-2)
Patrick: 1 (0)
Who are Democrats considering voting for?

Biden: 49%
Warren: 48
Sanders: 45
Buttigieg: 28
Klobuchar: 20
Bloomberg: 19
Booker: 18
Yang: 16
Steyer: 12
Castro: 10
Gabbard: 6
Bennet: 4
Patrick: 3
Delaney: 2
Who would they be disappointed to see win the nomination?

Gabbard: 42%
Bloomberg: 31
Delaney: 25
Biden: 23
Steyer: 23
Patrick: 23
Bennet: 21
Sanders: 20
Buttigieg: 19
Yang: 17
Klobuchar: 17
Warren: 15
Read 5 tweets