Can We Trust Pollsters to Get the 2020 US Election Right?

The next US election is drawing closer and there has been plenty of talk about it in recent weeks, something that will intensify as we get closer.

When you hear any kind of election update on the news, whether this is analysts predicting what will happen or general news about the run-in, you will always hear one thing. This is the prediction that the pollsters are currently making.

These change over time, and when big events take place such as the big TV debates, you can expect to see a change in the results.

But can we trust pollsters to get it right, or should we be looking elsewhere for an indication as to who is going to sit in the White House at the end of 2020.

How do Pollsters Work?

Polling in elections happens in the weeks leading up to the big event. We will have big early forecasts and then new analysis as we approach the day of the election. A final exit poll will be conducted on the day, with results released after the voting has ended.

Pollsters work out the states which are completely safe and they award those to the candidates.

They then take opinions from people in key battleground states to see which way they would vote and work out a general opinion and percentages from that.

This seems simple for something that is so well-trusted around the world. A look at the latest business news ahead of an election will more than likely have businesses talking about the vote and planning based on the predicted winner from the polls.

What Did they Predict in 2016?

However, they are not always right, which is why many people question whether these can be trusted or not. The election of 2016 was a prime example of this.

When polls started to come out, around five months before the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton was ahead. She remained there for most of the time, aside from a small period in July.

Although the gap closed in the days before the election and on election night itself, Clinton remained ahead. However, the result, as we all know, was a win for Donald Trump.

Looking away from the US and the exact same happened when the UK voted on Brexit in 2016.

It seems the days of completely trusting polls are gone, and we should now tread with a little caution when it comes to how strongly we take their word. Of course, there is a lot of work put into these, but they may not be as accurate as we have seen in the past.

What Other Methods are Available?

One of the hottest topics surrounding politics is how reliable the betting markets are, can these be trusted over the polls if they show different things?

Popular bookmakers like Bet365 will accept wagers on elections years in advance, but it is their markets nearer the time that are worth scrutinising. Bookmakers change their betting markets and odds based on the wagers they receive.

If people place bets on one candidate to win, their odds will shorten. If we see a stream of money in the run up to this year’s election then can that be trusted more than the polls?

It takes a lot of cash to move betting markets, it may be one or two huge bets or it could be a collective number of smaller bets.

Either way, the fact is that people are happy to stake cash on the outcome. When cold, hard cash is at stake, can these people be trusted to get it right more than the pollsters do?