Wednesday, September 28, 2016

#TrumpWon the debate? Legitimate polls show otherwise

The hashtag #TrumpWon was trending on Twitter Tuesday. Partially boosted by sarcasm, it was fuelled primarily by Donald Trump, who was quick to claim he won Monday's debate by citing a slew of online polls that pegged him as the winner.

But there's a problem. None of the polls Trump has pointed to are actually legitimate polls. Instead, all of the scientific, real polls published so far have shown him to be the loser of the debate by significant margins.

In the world of public opinion research, the "online polls" that litter news websites are a plague. Whereas real surveys try to assemble representative samples of the population, these online polls are more of a gimmick or a game. Anyone can answer them. Often people can answer them multiple times. They can invite their friends, who likely think just like them, to answer the online polls on social media.

And then they can point to these completely unrepresentative and meaningless results as if they signal something important.

You can read the rest of this article here.


  1. I watched the debate and Trump clearly lost !!

    1. Peter,

      I agree. It takes Hillary off the respirator, for now.

  2. First debate winners include Gore, Kerry, Romney...

    GW Bush and Obama got the message and got their acts together for the next debates. Will Trump?

    The GOP has done well running folksy, if doubtfully qualified, candidates you would like to have a beer with: Reagan, GW Bush.

    But how many folks would like to have a beer with Trump, or Hillary for that matter?

    1. I watched the debate it was a tie. Trump was Trump Clinton was Clinton. Both scored some punches. I'm not sure either one did anything to convince undecided voters. Clinton thought she was pretty smart showing everyone she "prepared" for the debate but, that is her whole problem, she has schemed after the job. Totally inconclusive in my opinion. If Trump can win Florida he'll become president.

    2. But Hillary proved in 2008 that she's good at shots!

    3. bede,

      My current forecasts (see have Trump up in Florida but down nationwide with a lower chance of winning. I don't think Florida is going to be as decisive as you think this election; the decisive states are looking more like Ohio and Pennsylvania, where Clinton is either ahead or tied right now. I'm willing to admit that Trump could win *with* Florida, but that doesn't mean he'll win *because of* Florida, since by the time Clinton has FL she's winning nationally by five points by the look of it.

  3. If I went out for a beer with Hillary, she would talk my ear off.

    If I went out for a beer with Donald, he would order a Hennessy Ellipse and stiff me with the bill.

    Clinton was the clear winner of the debate, but I'm not sure that means a lot.

  4. Of course Clinton won. I agree with GNB that we shouldn't read too much into this, but it is clear that Clinton did better.

    p.s It is very difficult to avoid personal biases. I used to be a member of a political party a long, long time ago and when I switched to political consultant mode I had to learn to leave partisan biases behind and read the data without bias. If one is losing a particular state/region or on a particular issue it is important to accurately ascertain this so that proper action can be taken (counterattack ads, candidate appearances, or even writing the state off and shifting resources to another state).

  5. Legitimate polls? You mean like this one?

    "...the entire poll was skewed towards Clinton to start off with. Of the people CNN/ORC spoke to, 41% identified themselves as Democrats and 26% identified as Republican (the rest said they were Independents). So you would have expected Clinton to do better, regardless of how she performed during the debate."

    1. Henry,
      Those numbers are within the margin of error for the poll (4.5%). Possibly there was an oversampling of Democrats vs. Independents, but the Republicans were just about spot on.

      US party affiliation -
      CNN poll -

      Clinton 'won' both Democrats (89%) and Independents (54%) and almost as good with Republicans (28%) as Trump with Independents (33%) as having 'done the best job' at the debate.

    2. The LA Times Daybreak poll has Trump up by four and a half points. The gap that had been narrowing before the debate widened after the debate and has now leveled off roughly where it was a week before the debate with Trump holding a four point lead. Some of the poll results especially from the South are pretty unusual. The Daybreak poll surveys 400 people per day and adds the number to a weekly result. A similar poll from Ekos during our election correctly predicted the Liberal majority and popular vote even when other more traditional polls had the race tied. This is a change election and Trump is the change candidate. The media bias that Clinton "won" the debate is a desperate attempt to revive what is a flailing campaign drowning under its own political baggage. Clinton's best line was on Trump's taxes but, America is a country that actively promotes tax evasion through their portrayal and near religiosity toward their founding fathers and constitution. They have deified George Washington inside the Capitol rotunda where a fresco "The apotheosis of Washington" (literally the godmaking)can be viewed. So her best line reinforced traditional American attitudes toward taxes, Yet, somehow people thought she won? I watched the debate. Trump was Trump, Clinton was her usual self as well. Trump had a very good line toward Clinton asking why Black people should vote for her when the Democrats have done so little to improve the lives of Black Americans. It was a tie and that is being generous toward Clinton.


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