OPINION: Recent polls will be more accurate than they were in 2016

Despite their failure to accurately predict the winner of the last election, polls in 2016 were actually not that far off, and increased voter turnout will lead to increased accuracy. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE

National election polls from sources such as The Guardian, CNN and Fox News expect Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden to win the election. While polls measure the views of likely voters, they do not project the outcome of the Electoral College. 

Many Americans are worried about the accuracy of the predictions after national polls in 2016 projected Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton to win the presidential election. But, President Donald Trump won with an advantage of 74 electoral votes in the Electoral College.

The polls this election will be more accurate because the larger the sample, the more accurate it will be. National polling also will be more accurate this year due to a substantial increase in expected voter turnout on Election Day after the massive push for early voting. 

Close to 60 million ballots were cast before the election in 2016, and this year there were close to 98 million early ballots collected nationally, with 9 million from Florida as of Nov. 2 at 7 p.m., according to statistics collected by the U.S. Elections Project. Early voting numbers alone represented more than two-thirds of all votes cast in 2016 at 138 million ballots, according to Business Insider.

The RealClearPolitics and NBC News’ national polling averages put Biden at more than a 7-point lead over Trump as of Nov. 2, and FiveThirtyEight’s national polling tracker said Biden had an 8.4-point lead over Trump on the same day.

Polling in 2016 over-exaggerated Clinton’s lead, claiming she was set to win by a landslide, but with national polls from Fox News, The Economist and ABC News showing her winning by 2-3 percentage points. Trump was always a normal polling error behind Clinton, but 2020 polls are finding that Biden is ahead of Trump by a more substantial amount. Fox News was showing Biden with an 8-point lead over Trump.

Polls are meant to reflect how the entire country will vote, but they can be inaccurate if the number of votes are different from what was expected. The 2016 election saw one of its lowest voting turnouts in nearly two decades with only 55% of eligible voters casting a ballot, according to CNN. The voter turnout decreased by nearly 5% since the 2012 election and 8% since 2008.

With a huge number of early votes cast and more coming on the final day of the election, things are looking good for Biden. The demographic that typically leans Democrat, which includes white Americans with four-year degrees, Black Americans, Latinos, Asians and other minority groups, has grown by 1-2% as the country becomes more diverse and college educated, according to NBC News. 

On the other hand, NBC News also said on Sept. 23 that Trump’s main demographic, white Americans without a college education, has shrunk by about 3% in the last four years. A collaboration between NBC and the Cook Political Report stated if 2016’s low rates of turnout and support were applied to these new demographic realities, Trump would narrowly lose.

The reality is that polling was more accurate in 2016 than most people think. Polls from The Economist, Fox News and ABC News four years ago all predicted Clinton would take the election by a margin of just two to three points, a normal margin of error. 

Although each one surveyed thousands of people, the truth is that the polls weren’t too far off to be discredited and the race was incredibly close. Clinton lost several swing states by a very small margin, and Florida went to Trump over a difference of barely 120,000 votes, according to USA Today, or roughly 0.01% of the number of voters.

Despite poll margins tightening as we reach the final day of the race, Biden is still projected to win by all but one of the 11 official national polls such as YouGov, IBD/TIPP and RMG Research, according to The New York Times. 

The only thing that could derail this train is complacency of Democratic voters on Election Day. Vote despite what the polls are projecting. Vote because it’s one of the few chances to participate in the democratic process and do your civic duty.