2016: Final RCP Averages Underestimated Trump’s Lead in Key Battleground States

HE VILLAGES, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 23: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during his campaign event at The Villages Polo Club on October 23, 2020 in The Villages, Florida. President Trump continues to campaign against Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden leading up to the November 3rd Election Day. (Photo by Joe …
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Final polling averages underestimated the lead then-candidate Donald Trump held in a number of crucial swing states, including Ohio, Florida, and North Carolina, in 2016.

With early voting underway, critics are beginning to rethink their reliance on polls. “Can We Trust Pennsylvania’s Polls?” reads the title of a New York Times article highlighting the “Trumpmania” among residents in the state. On Thursday, CBS News published an article titled, “What went wrong with polls in 2016? Can we trust them now?” Vox recently posed a similar question: “Biden has a big lead in the polls, but can we trust them?”

The questions are likely sparked by a wave of polls showing Biden holding sizeable leads over the president in key states. One such poll, an ABC News-Washington Post survey released Wednesday, showed Biden leading Trump by 17 points in Wisconsin.

All the while, President Trump and his surrogates continue to draw massive, enthusiastic crowds. Meanwhile, Joe Biden (D), Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), and their surrogates have continued to hold small events, drawing “tens,” in some cases.

As a previous Breitbart News analysis demonstrated, Trump won Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin in 2016 despite the final RealClearPolitics (RCP) averages showing Hillary Clinton winning all three of those states. However, further analysis shows that final averages in other key states — states that predicted Trump winning — also underestimated his momentum.

Ohio stands as one of the most notable examples. The final RCP average showed Trump winning the Buckeye State by 2.2 percent. However, Trump took the state by 8.1 percent. Other final averages told a similar story:

Final average: Trump +2.2
Results: Trump +8.1

Final average: Trump +0.2
Results: Trump +1.2

North Carolina:
Final average: Trump +0.8
Results: Trump +3.6

Final average: Trump +4.8
Results: Trump +5.1

Other key battleground states, as Breitbart News previously detailed:

Final average: Clinton +2.1
Results: Trump +0.7

Final average: Clinton +6.5
Results: Trump +0.7

Final average: Clinton +3.6
Results: Trump +0.3

Thursday afternoon’s RCP average in each state listed above was as follows: Trump +0.6 in Ohio; Biden +0.5 in Florida; Biden +0.7 in North Carolina; tie in Georgia; Biden +3.5 in Pennsylvania; Biden +6.4 in Wisconsin; Biden +8.2 in Michigan.

Arizona and Minnesota are two other states still considered to be in play. Trump took Arizona in 2016 by 3.5 percent, though the final RCP average had him up by four percent. Clinton, however, narrowly defeated Trump in Minnesota in 2016, taking the state by 1.5 percent.

Thursday’s RCP average showed Biden up by 1.3 percent in the Grand Canyon State and 4.7 percent in Minnesota.

President Trump is visiting several of these key battleground states as the election enters the final stretch, holding rallies in Tampa, Florida, and Fayetteville, North Carolina, on Thursday. He is expected to hold rallies in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota on Friday, followed by events in Pennsylvania on Saturday.


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