A Look at the US Presidential Election Numbers

A Look at the US Presidential Election Numbers

A Look at the US Presidential Election Numbers


If you’re feeling a mix of excitement and anxiety about this year’s election, you’re not alone. The race between Joe Biden and Donald Trump is heating up. Here is our guide through this political rollercoaster.


The Pulse of the Nation

In the last six months, we’ve seen a fierce battle for the lead. The latest from 270toWin shows Biden and Trump locked in a statistical tie, with each candidate grabbing 44% to 46% of the vote according to an ABC News/Reuters poll. The Hill’s tracker also has it neck and neck, with Biden having made up ground in recent weeks.

Of course with US election system it’s not just about who’s ahead overall, it’s about where. The State polls are where the real story is to be found. For instance, Trump is ahead by 9% in Georgia and by 13% in Nevada, according to NY Times/Siena although other polls suggest both races could be much closer. These battleground states are where the election will really be decided.


Decoding the Numbers Beyond the Headlines

As always when it comes to election polls there are several thigs to bear in mind when interpreting the results.

Method Matters: Different pollsters have different methods. It’s like comparing apples to oranges unless you understand the nuances. Different sample sizes, demographic weighting, and question phrasing all play a part. Look for sources that are transparent about their methodologies so you can better understand the data.

Bias and Error: No poll is perfect. Each comes with a margin of error, often around ±3-4%. This means the actual support for any candidate could swing a few points in either direction. Historically biases — such as the underestimating of the Trump voter in 2016 – have turned out to be critical.

Timing is Everything: Polls are snapshots in time. An event like a debate or a scandal can shift the numbers overnight. As we get closer to the election, polls generally become more predictive, reflecting the final leanings of voters.

State vs. National: While national polls give a broad view, they can mislead due to the Electoral College system. State polls in swing states are where the action is. Trump’s lead in crucial swing states could make all the difference, even if national polls show a dead heat.


The Story So Far

An analysis of the polls over the past six months show a dynamic race which still has a long way to run. Back in December 2023, Biden had a slight edge in several key states. Fast forward to May 2024, and the race has tightened, with Trump making significant gains. For example, RealClearPolitics data shows Trump leading in Arizona and Pennsylvania, states crucial for a victory.


What It All Means

To properly interpret the numbers we have to look at the broader trends and averages. Aggregated data from multiple sources offers a clearer picture than any single poll. Sites like 270toWin and RealClearPolitics aggregate nearly all the polls, smoothing out the anomalies and giving us a balanced view.

Aggregated Insights: Combining multiple polls reduces the noise and highlights the true signal. The RealClearPolitics average, for example, shows a close race with Trump slightly ahead nationally.

Key Issues: Polls do much more than give headline numbers for each candidate. Plenty also delve into voter concerns on hot button topics like the economy, healthcare and immigration. These issues drive voter preferences and are the key to understanding the shifting the tides of support for each candidate.

Historical Lens: Past elections can also offer context. The tight margins we’re seeing now are reminiscent of 2020, where Biden’s leads in key states were often within the margin of error, foreshadowing the narrow victories for both candidates on election day.


The Final Stretch

As we race towards the finish line, keep your eyes on the aggregated data, understand the methodologies, and watch the battleground states very closely. Rember the polls are only a guide and only provide a snapshot of probably voter intention at the time and place they are carried out.

To understand more about the potential limitations of different polling methodologies, and how they can be improved, download our White Paper “Navigating the Maze of Public Opinion”.


For more information about TKW Research’s Live Phone Polling solutions – and to find out how we’ve made it cost-competitive again – visit this page.