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Why the Polls Were Wrong — and Will Never Be Right Again

The 2020 US elections got off to a roaring start as Joe Biden scored a thumping victory in Dixville Notch, New Hampshire. His five votes there, in the first town in the country to report, launched his “path to victory” with a perfect 100 per cent result. Unfortunately for Biden and the Democrats, the whole country is not Dixville Notch, though you might not know that if your only source of political information were the mainstream opinion polls.

The consensus of major national polls tracked by FiveThirtyEight gave Biden a stunning 8.4 percentage point lead on November 1. Reality sunk in the minute Florida started reporting its election results, indicating a narrow victory for the Donald in what is legally his home state. The consensus of Florida state polls tracked by FiveThirtyEight suggested that Biden would cruise to victory there, as in the rest of the country. How could they be so wrong – again?

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Published inAll ArticlesSydney Morning Herald
Sydney-based globalization expert Salvatore Babones is available to speak on the Chinese economy (demographics, growth, technology), the Belt & Road Initiative, global trade networks, and Australia-China relations. Contact: