Statistician and elections analyst Nate Silver has clashed with Donald Trump Jr. over the level of error in polling, after the president’s son criticized his defense of results after suggestions they are getting worse.
President Donald Trump and his allies have criticized pollsters, suggesting results have been off or even “fake”—while claiming that polling showing major leads for Joe Biden could have suppressed turnout of Trump voters.
Silver, who is editor-in-chief of FiveThirtyEight, recently said while 2020 polling errors were “worse than average” he does not believe there is evidence polls are becoming less accurate.
“There’s not actually much evidence that polls are becoming less accurate,” he said in a recent tweet, in response to MSNBC host Chris Hayes suggesting it was a “bad combination” that polling is becoming “more common and accessible and also less accurate.”
Silver added: “They had perhaps their best year ever in 2018. 2016 and 2020 polling errors were slightly worse than average but within a fairly normal range.”
Trump Jr. then shared this point from Silver and wrote: “We understand you’re trying to salvage a very lucrative career in polling punditry but it’s getting ridiculous.”
To which Silver responded: “I’ll still have a job on January 21st, though.”
The latter point seemingly being in reference to the day following the presidential inauguration, with Biden having been declared president-elect according to news networks. However, the president has continued to fight against this, launching a raft of lawsuits and arguing against what he brands the “lamestream media” announcing a winner.
Newsweek has contacted Silver and the Trump campaign for comment.
Polling for the election pointed to a Biden win and has been proven correct to that extent, with numbers showing a clear popular vote victory and calls pointing to the Electoral College triumph.
However, results have been tighter in some states where Biden was predicted major wins while Trump also secured more decisive victories in some spots.
Analysis from Pew Research Center points to Wisconsin as an example of somewhere Biden won but with a lower margin that anticipated and Ohio as somewhere Trump’s victory was greater than polls suggested it might be.
While acknowledging there was error, suggesting state and national estimates favored the Democratic candidate, Pew analysis suggested this margin in 2020 was around the same as that of polling from the past 12 presidential elections.
Pew stated that “state polling errors are about the same as in 2016, while the national polling error is slightly larger, at least as of today.
“Even so, the national polling error of 2020 appears to be similar to the average errors for election polls over the past 12 presidential elections.”
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