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Do the Math: If You Believe the Polls and the Early Voting Data, It’s Impossible for Biden to Win PA


Taps Coogan – November 1st, 2020

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The latest Quinnipiac poll shows Biden leading Trump 51% to 44% in Pennsylvania, a large seven point margin. Of all the recent polls on Real Clear Politics in Pennsylvania, it shows the largest Biden lead.

The poll also reports that 94% of Democrats support Biden and 4% support Trump. 89% of Republicans support Trump and 9% support Biden. Independents are split 48-44 Biden vs. Trump.

According the same poll, 66% of Democrats report voting by mail (or planning to) versus just 16% of Republicans and 38% of independents.


As it would happen, Pennsylvania reports the number and the party registration of mail-in ballots requested and received. At the time of writing, 1,573,422 ballots have been received from Democrats in Pennsylvania compared to just 542,255 from Republicans and 238,046 from independents. Democrats have an impressive million vote lead.

So what if the Quinnipiac poll is 100% accurate about voters’ intention to support one candidate or the other (94% of Democrats supporting Biden etc…), and 100% accurate about voters’ intention to vote by mail versus in person (84% of Republicans will vote in person)?

Instead of relying on the poll’s black-box turnout model to predict the 51%-44% win for Biden, we can simply calculate how many votes each candidate will win based on the hard mail-in voting data that we already have courtesy of the state of Pennsylvania.

To make the math really easy, let’s make one more very generous assumption for Biden: 100% of ballot requested by Democrats and Independents will end up being returned (1,946,670 and 337,563 ballots respectively) and not a single additional mail-in ballot is received from Republicans after today. Remember, the polls have independents favoring Biden 48-44, so this is the most generous assumption possible for Biden.

If we apply just the aforementioned information to the actual early voting data, we get a surprising result: 3,529,222 votes for Biden compared to 3,546,878 votes for Trump. That’s right, the poll that shows Biden leading by 7% actually results in Trump winning Pennsylvania by a 0.2% margin if you apply the hard data from the State of Pennsylvania about mail-in voting. It’s worth noting again, that’s assuming 100% of requested Democrat and Independent absentee ballots get returned compared to just 68.8% of Republicans. Again, this is also based on the most ‘Biden Friendly’ poll to come out in Pennsylvania since the second debate.

Does that mean that Trump is guaranteed to win? Absolutely not. It simply means that if the poll is correct about voters’ intentions, he is guaranteed to win. Fortunately for Democrats and Republicans alike, all this exercise proves is that polls should be taken with a Mount Everest sized serving of salt. In this case, the poll is either wrong about Biden’s 7 point lead because its turnout model is bogus or it’s wrong about voters intention to vote by mail. Chances are, it’s wrong about both.

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