Election 2020

Biden Campaign Manager: Race Is 'Far Closer' Than the Polls Suggest

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

The most misleading polls in this or any other election are national polls. We hear that often but in Donald Trump’s case, it’s especially true. The national polls have Joe Biden leading by as few as eight points and as many as 18 points.

Trump trails by 30 points in California; 30 points in New York; and 18 points in Illinois. Biden is up by 20 in New Jersey; 32 points in Maryland; and 26 points in Delaware.

Trump will lose those states. He was always expected to lose those states. The reality is that it doesn’t matter how many votes Biden gets overall, but where he gets them.

And in states with a lot of electoral votes — Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Ohio — Biden is nowhere near pulling away. In fact, Trump is in a similar position in those states as he was in 2016.

The Biden campaign wants his supporters confident but energized. He issued a reminder on Twitter that nobody will win anything if they don’t go out and vote.

Biden partisans are already celebrating. But the Biden campaign knows the score and doesn’t want its supporters to let up. That may prove to be difficult. The media are already beginning the drumbeat for a Biden landslide and there are efforts by Democratic movers and shakers to jockey for cabinet positions.

Meanwhile, Trump begins to edge closer. He’s leading in Florida after trailing for a long time. It’s a dead heat in many of these battleground states with the polls well within the margin of error. With 20 days to go, despite hysterical opposition to the president (or maybe because of it) Trump is well within striking distance.

In another sign the race is closer than being reported, a company that specializes in an AI technique known as “sentiment analysis,” which examines social media posts for attitudes toward the two candidates, also finds the election much closer.


The company’s analysis puts Democratic candidate Joseph Biden ahead of President Donald Trump, 50.2% to 47.3%, a margin that is much narrower than the double-digit lead that Biden has over Trump in most national opinion polls.

Based on these polls, many political analysts and commentators are expecting that Biden may win a historic landslide. But Expert.ai’s A.I.-based analysis indicates the race may be much tighter than these human experts are expecting.

The company’s AI analysis correctly predicted Great Britain’s exit from the European Union. And scholarly papers have supported the idea of sentiment analysis, believing it could have better predicted the 2016 presidential race.

Trump was the focus of far more social media activity than Biden, accounting for almost 60% of all the posts Expert.ai analyzed, compared to slightly less than 17% for Biden. But Biden ranked higher in terms of positive emotions such as “success” and “hope,” while Trump scored higher on negative emotions such as “fear” and “hatred.”

The only positive emotion on which Trump scores better than Biden, according to a statement from Expert.ai, is “action.”

And that’s why it will be hard to beat the president. Biden talks a good game, but I’ve heard many people question whether he could have done a better job than Trump in addressing the coronavirus. And many have also expressed their doubts about whether Biden could have engineered a recovery.

Trump is a known quantity. Love him or hate him, people know what he’s about. The same can’t be said for Biden, which gives the president a better-than-even chance of winning.

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