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How Biden is sustaining a lead in US elections, Trump’s ‘shy voters’ & why polls can be wrong

In episode 608 of #CutTheClutter, Shekhar Gupta looks at the intricacies of the American electoral process and identifies key trends in these elections.

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New Delhi: Almost all pollsters in the US say that Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden is “way ahead” of President Donald Trump, but in the midst of all this, data indicates that Trump’s approval ratings are the same as 2014, said ThePrint’s Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta in episode 608 of ‘Cut The Clutter’.

Looking at data from RealClearPoliticsa US political news site, Gupta said that Trump has had the most consistent approval rating in the history of American politics. These are the Trump loyalists who are his core vote base.

However, the US is a two-party system and to win, a candidate needs to cross 50 per cent votes.

And 10 per cent of these are all undecided voters. Thus, there could be many Trump voters, who are shy of admitting that they are his supporters and are not telling pollsters, which is a third trend that has emerged this US elections, explained Gupta.

Also read: How voting takes place in US states and why we shouldn’t expect a final result soon

Polls can be wrong

Gupta further noted that in a debate on, a polling platform, popular pollster Nate Silver said that one should approach these polls with caution because in 2016, all pollsters predicted the wrong result. They had said Hillary Clinton would win but Donald Trump won instead.

Currently, the polls predict that Biden has an 89 per cent chance of winning the presidency while Democrats have a 77 per cent chance of winning the Senate — the upper house of the US Congress.

However, Gupta noted that sometimes when everyone agrees on an outcome, a herd mentality develops and the actual result is diametrically opposite.

Silver also pointed out that Trump has more than a 10 per cent chance of winning, which was not zero, therefore, through some permutations and combinations Trump could still win and prove everyone wrong, especially when one takes into account the “shy Trump voters”, Gupta said.

Also read: Twitter says it won’t allow any US election candidate to claim early victory

Three important election trends

In his debate, Silver also identified three important points in these elections. One, nothing has changed in the news cycle in the past 10 days to shift public opinion towards Trump. Two, about 60 per cent of the total voters, who voted in 2016, have already cast their ballots in the US and according to data, more Democrats voted early than Republicans.

According to estimates, 47 per cent Democrats and 30 per cent Republicans had registered to vote till Friday, while 23 per cent were unaffiliated voters.

And finally, the race in battleground states like Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Florida, where most voters are undecided, was tightening.

Gupta noted that tightening did not mean narrowing. In some battleground states, like Michigan and Wisconsin, Biden was much ahead.

In the US election system, to become president, a candidate needs more than half of the total electoral college votes. Therefore, 275 votes of 538 total votes.

Some states were already decided like California and New York for the Democrats and other red states for the Republicans. But these battleground states like Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Arizona comprised 91 electoral votes — and had the potential to swing the election.

Gupta referred to an article in the Wall Street Journal, which said that only Donald Trump can ensure that he is the fourth incumbent in a century to be fired after a single term.

And thus, 3 November is a test of whether Trump can defeat himself or not, he noted.

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  1. Yes, if certain things happen, there is a probability that Trump may win. But after the experts who have studied the results of the 2016 (last) election, and discounted whatever they had learned from such studies, and all such other matters like tightening of the races in certain states, undecided voters, ‘shy’ voters, etc. the mainstream feeling is still that Joe Biden would win the election handily. There are also experts who were right about Trump winning the 2016 election, now predicting a Biden win. One such expert, Henry Olsen of Washington Post, has predicted yesterday, November 2, the following results for the president, senate and the House of Representatives.

    Popular vote prediction – Biden (52.5%) – Trump (45.3%)

    Electoral college prediction – Biden (350) – Trump (188)

    Senate prediction – Democratic (50) – Republican – (48)

    House prediction – Democratic – (246) – Republican – (189)

    He further says, “Democrats need not fear. This, my sixth published biennial election prediction essay, is perhaps my easiest: Former vice president Joe Biden will win comfortably unless we experience the greatest polling failure in modern history. Democrats will also gain control of the Senate and expand their majority in the House. While not the landslide that some hope for, Democrats will simultaneously control the presidency and both houses of Congress for only the third time since Ronald Reagan’s election in 1980. That alone is a historic achievement that will give them the upper hand to determine the next stage of our ongoing national crisis”

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