Did the opinion polls get the US election wrong?

Republican supporters
Republican supporters (AP)
5:11am, Wed 04 Nov 2020
CBAD8A00-D2B9-4E0E-ADDF-D0366C357A34 Created with sketchtool. E9A4AA46-7DC3-48B8-9CE2-D75274FB8967 Created with sketchtool. 65CCAE04-4748-4D0F-8696-A91D8EB3E7DC Created with sketchtool.

Many polls gave Joe Biden a strong lead in the race for the White House but Election Night is giving a closer race than many expected.

The Democratic nominee was thought to have a comfortable lead over the Republican incumbent. But close results in a number of swing states have made the path to the presidency unclear.

A seven-day rolling average of polls suggested Mr Biden was leading by 51% compared to Donald Trump’s 44% on Election Day, according to data from Real Clear Politics.

Latest US election results (PA Graphics)

The final numbers were not much changed from where they were on June 3, when there were three months to election day.

In the early summer, Mr Biden was polling at 49%, seven points higher than the president on 42%.

As of 4am (GMT) on Election Night, results had still not been declared in any of the swing states that were predicted to decide the election, all but one of which had predicted a Biden lead.

Florida – which was expecting a +3 Biden lead according to the Real Clear Politics data – was suggesting a Trump lead.

The same was true in Georgia and North Carolina which were thought to have slim Biden majorities, and Ohio, which analysts had thrown up as tied in the polls.

There were concerns that Pennsylvania (predicted +6 Biden) and Michigan and Wisconsin (both predicted +8 Biden) would not be declared for some time as election staff count votes submitted by post.

Sign up to our newsletter