top of page

The Pitfalls of Polling in 2020

Updated: Jan 12, 2021

Polls favor Joe Biden far more heavily in 2020 than they favored Hillary Clinton in 2016. And perhaps for good reason. It's possible that frustration surrounding Trump's handling of COVID-19 has swung independents against the current President. It's possible that Trump's 2016 upset awakened liberal-leaning non-voters to the ramifications of sitting out an election. It's also possible that Biden endorsements from former GOP candidates John Kasich and Carly Fiorina signal a willingness among some conservatives to vote for a traditional politician in place of a divisive celebrity.

Yet, there's still hope among Republicans that recent polls will fall short of correctly forecasting the election's outcome... and fear among Democrats still traumatized by 2016. Robert Cahaly, one of the few pollsters to correctly predict the 2016 outcome, justifies such optimism/fear with his repeat prediction. Could Trump overcome an even greater polling deficit than he did in 2016? NBC THINK writer Kevin Koffler thinks "yes," attributing the more pronounced poll margin between candidates to the more pronounced social consequences of the "Trump-supporter" label in 2020.

In this podcast episode, Emory Analytics Professor Mike Lewis addresses potential pitfalls in recent polling through an objective lens. This episode features no endorsement or prediction - but rather a nonpartisan analysis of polls, the factors that may skew their results, and a defense for their previous shortcomings. Mike also addresses how optics surrounding polls may affect who shows up to vote.

Listen to the election segment of this episode at the 23:20 mark:


Before discussing the election, Mike and I had a conversation regarding an array of sports stories ranging from the Philadelphia 76ers' acquisition of Daryl Morey to the Chicago Bears' fight involving former Georgia Bulldog Javon Wims and former Florida Gator CJ Gardner-Johnson. We also discussed MIke's tips for leveraging analytics in Fantasy Football and the return of the Disney+ Star Wars show The Mandalorian.

Stream the full episode now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher.



Mike Lewis 0:17

Hey, welcome, everyone. Welcome to the Fanalytics podcast. My name is Mike Lewis, Professor of Marketing at Emory University. As always, we are brought to you by the Emory marketing analytics center, and I am joined by Mr. Doug Battle. How are you?

Doug Battle 0:32

I'm doing well, Mike. I'm looking at my fantasy score right now. And I'm playing my brother. And he and I, it's embarrassing. We're in this league with a bunch of friends from our hometown. And he and I are the bottom two teams. It's just it's like, we're not representing the family. Well, but we've both been decimated by injuries. But we're in a very low scoring battle here that are reminiscent of Georgia football, just a lot of defense.

Mike Lewis 0:56

That is not embarrassing. That is shameful. To me. This is a sports analytics podcast.

Doug Battle 1:02

I know. That's what I like, I'm supposed to be that guy. I mean, I'm gonna stop making excuses. I've made the same excuse every week. It's, it is I'm ashamed on behalf of analytics. And in my role here, and I just want to apologize to you.

Mike Lewis 1:14

Well, I think last week, we talked a little bit about fantasy football. And, you know, I think you mentioned that you were using the ESPN projections and and I guess there is a lesson in there in terms of that you should you should do better. I think you should be pulling data, building models, locating your, your hidden biases in all of this and dominating that league. But

Doug Battle 1:42

what it was is that this is an outlier year for me, I promise, my, it's a, you play it injuries never happened. I'm sitting on top of the rankings this year. So it's just making do with what we got. And I'm gonna I'm gonna do better next year for analytics. I mean,

Mike Lewis 1:56

this is this is purely anecdotal. But a few years ago, we used to teach the sports because I was co teaching it at the time was actually a couple other professors. And we taught the sports analytics class in the fall semester, which gave us the great opportunity of actually running a fantasy football league, yes, throughout the throughout the term. And it was sort of shocking that the two teams that did the best This was included grad students and undergrad students at Emory tended to be the two most analytical, the two most analytically oriented teams in terms of the people actually pulling data in running, and running models and building forecasting systems. It was one of those kind of very happy, you know, you could also imagine, they could also go the opposite direction, the people actually pulling the numbers finishing dead last. All right, but it isn't. It's an interesting data point in that, you know, these fantasy football leagues, I'm kind of getting the sense that they've all evolved, I don't play this stuff, that they've all evolved to people all having the same information. And so more or less, kind of, in this quest for inefficiencies, or marketing inefficiencies that you can exploit to, to win these leaks.

Doug Battle 3:08

Yeah, in my experience, it's really been about who puts in the most time because most people are using the same information. But there's things like when the waivers open up, like for free agency, and some people are up at like four in the morning to make sure they get the top guys. And I used to be that guy, and I used to run the league, but I have gotten a little lazy with fantasy football. And it shows. So it really is it really is like kind of an effort thing. At this point, with everyone using more or less the same data in in the same way. And so I think most of the like, outside research that I'll do is before the draft, when I'm trying to find like, you know, maybe a rookie running back that's gonna pop off or a diamond in the rough, if you will. But once the season gets going, and you just, I don't know, it's, it's, you could you could spend as much time as you want, on the analytical side of just your fantasy football team. But I've gotten where I don't spend that much time,

Mike Lewis 4:09

well, I'll give you a little tip. And it's not like this is actually going to reduce the stack like this is going to reduce the effort down to zero, the effort would still probably be difficult. But there's a this kind of is all technique. This, I think is largely been forgotten as the world has moved towards machine learning and AI, whatever those terms mean. And I you know, I say that because these terms are these terms are flexibly used, let's say but one of the one of the best ways to do these kind of tasks is to actually gather information from all sorts of sources. So let's say you've got a forecast on points that are going to be scored from ESPN, but maybe you also got one from Fox Sports and you got one from DraftKings and literally I don't know where the who's who's publishing this kind of thing and Have you simply put all those pieces of data into a file and then build a simple statistical model that tells you how to balance those forecasts. And that tends to be a very easy and very effective way to to beat the crowd by using the crowd of models that may be out there that a little technical for a Monday morning

Doug Battle 5:26

is pretty straightforward. Okay. Yeah. So I might might have to look into this. The problem is like when I'm looking at free agents to pick up on my team, because everyone's hurt, is I'm have to look at so many different players. And so it might be time consuming to do that for like, 100 players.

Mike Lewis 5:43

Yeah, you would, you would need a system where you could download the, you know, let's say there's a key number for each download that Yeah, number for each of the systems and then

Doug Battle 5:50

right, building the host.

Mike Lewis 5:52

So it's not an error. It's not an effort free approach, but it's comparatively a lot easier than going into, you know, football and building a massive database and getting into the underlying analytics.

Doug Battle 6:06

Yeah, but I'll say this, my favorite I was in a wedding yesterday, so I didn't get to watch many or much NFL football. But I will say the Javan wims. Punch to CJ Garner Johnson. I don't know if you saw that. But that really made my day as a Georgia fan going into Georgia, Florida week.

Mike Lewis 6:25

Okay, so I didn't see it. So what happened?

Doug Battle 6:28

Yeah, so Javan wims, wide receiver for the Chicago Bears, beloved Georgia Bulldog got a great story. He actually, I think he only played football, his senior year of high school. And so he went and played Juco for like two years, and then came to Georgia and like, rode the bench for a year and then like broke out as Georgia's number one receiver the year they made the national championship. And so he got drafted, went to the bears. And he was playing in a game against the saints. And one of their defensive backs is CJ Gardner Johnson, formerly played for the Florida Gators. Georgia and Florida play each other this week. And it's Georgia, Florida hate week. And in this game, Gardner Johnson on one play, it looked like he ripped out wims mouthpiece after the play when they were drawing like he reached in his helmet and ripped it out and threw it on the ground. And the next play wims ran his route, defended by a completely different dB. And then when the play was done, he walked over to Johnson and just stood like square, like they were just staring at each other. And then he just punched him in the face. And then Johnson didn't do anything, he looked kind of confused. And he kind of like looked at the side, like they're gonna throw a flag. And then when punched him again. And then he just like kept punching him. And then a bunch of saints players like, took wims to the ground, and we're like trying to hold him back or whatever. But it became a meme. And so people started doing it. You can imagine photoshopping on different faces for the players. So like Trump and Biden, or different coaches, you know, one of them was, uh, was Bill Belichick punching Cam Newton, after his performance yesterday. So it was kind of the meme of the day in the NFL and I got a kick out of it, especially with it being Georgia, Florida. We

Mike Lewis 8:11

Okay, so let I think that brings us to maybe our core topic for this week. It's, you know, we were well, you know, for those of you guys listening tomorrow, this is a we're recording Monday. The second Of course, tomorrow is election day. And so if there is a theme for this week, well, maybe we should say tomorrow is the start of a lack of ballot counting week, perhaps. But, you know, the so maybe the theme for this week is leadership. You mentioned the bears in the saints, the bears. You know, in some ways, it's kind of remarkable how much attention the bears quarterback position gets year over year. Mitchell trubisky has been a story for multiple seasons now should have picked someone else benched after a few games this year to Nick foles. And now discussion of maybe going back to Mitchell trubisky I tend to think that this is very much the the year of the quarterback in terms of most of the stories there's a lot of fascinating quarterback stories throughout the league. You know, Drew Brees, I saw a statistic that his first, you know, dozen completions or so we're all less than five yards. And so there's all sorts of interesting stuff going on. I mean, going back to the bears, and potentially this idea of switching quarterbacks switching between quarterbacks that neither of them seems to be performing. Just seems Well, I mean, what do you what do you think of that?

Doug Battle 9:48

Yeah, it's been like this for seemingly forever for the bears. When was the last time they really had their guy at quarterback?

Mike Lewis 9:56

I would say Jim McMahon was the last time that it was fairly Yeah, I mean, you know everything some fans will go back. I mean, but I think the only time where it felt settled was Jim McMahon.

Doug Battle 10:08

Yeah, even the last time they made the Super Bowl. It was Rex Grossman, who was not very good. And they just had a phenomenal defense that year, as is typically the case in Chicago when they have good teams. Yeah, trubisky versus Nick foles. I mean, foles is kind of a career. Backup slash, like, he's definitely one of the better career backups in the NFL, he can go in and win a big game for you. As we've seen. For bid ski. I was never high on him. I watched him play in person in college. He's one of those guys got all the measurables Big, big guy, and

I don't think he's ever gonna be

a legitimate top 10 or top 15 NFL quarterback. I really don't. So I think Chicago is gonna be back to the drawing board pretty soon here. But I mean, they're kind of stuck in quarterback purgatory as they have been in the last 20 years, it seems.

Mike Lewis 11:09

Yeah. I mean, you know, back to the drawing board. And like I said, I think there's a lot of interesting stories out there. You know, the the NFC East in itself is a kind of an amazing story. You know, the Yeah, you know, the the NFL ratings are down. Last number I saw was about 15 14%. For the season that was further through the first five weeks. Yeah, part of that may well be the fact that I don't know whether the Giants won in six, the Eagles are the class of the division at three and for everyone else's one two game, you know, I'm not even gonna keep it straight. But the it is not like the Cowboys were rolling over folks before Dak Prescott, but talk about a talk about a collapse and an interesting one where, you know, like the bears are the Cowboys now in a position where you have to think about tearing it all down and starting over. Mostly because you lost your, your quarterback, your leader.

Doug Battle 12:11

Yeah, I actually think for the Cowboys, it's not the worst situation. Obviously, it's disappointing for Dak Prescott, and there's no getting around that but for the franchise as a whole, unless they're gonna win a Super Bowl. I mean, it's like this for any team, unless you're gonna win a Super Bowl, it's almost better to just crumble and tank in a team like that, where they still have a lot of nice pieces in place, where if they end up with a big draft pick, they can really think about, they can either think about drafting someone like Justin fields, or Trevor Lawrence and trading away Dak when he's healthy, or if they feel good about Dak, they can trade that pick for I mean, that is probably going to be one of the most valuable first number one picks. And in years with kind of guaranteed superstars, it seems this year in this class, it's not always the case. So I don't think it's the worst situation for the Cowboys as a Giants fan, I'm actually a little more concerned. Thankfully, the giants are, are in a similar position, even with our quarterback playing, where we may be in a higher draft seat than the Cowboys. But if the Cowboys were to for real tank for the number one pick or number two pick, I think the NFC East, the other teams in the NFC East would be pretty concerned about that more so then if the Cowboys slipped into the playoffs with like that eight seed.

Mike Lewis 13:41

Well, and I think what's tough about all this right now is suddenly you know, and I think Jerry Jones and the Cowboys thought they may have had enough for some years of contention and you know, Super Bowl runs. Now they are looking at a situation where you know, what's the probability Dak comes back as an effective player let alone as a superstar Ezekiel Elliott running backs quickly put on mileage in terms of carries. And let's say you do go the you go fall in and you try and draft one of these elite prospects are they developed in time that everyone is sort of reaching their peak at the same time and, and so suddenly now, you know, the key word for the Cowboys over the next few years is going to be kind of uncertainty and playing percentages.

Doug Battle 14:32

Yeah, I think so. I definitely think you raised a good point about zekiel. Elliott, because he's, he's been a top five back since he's been in the NFL. Some would argue that he's been the top back in those years. But a guy like him is the more mileage you know, it's like a car taken off the lot. It's like a depreciates every time he touches a rock. And of course, he could have a career like Adrian Peterson where he does it for a lot of years. But that's would be more of an exception than the rule itself. And so you think about that you think about Dak. And where he's at. Defense isn't particularly great right now. So I don't know how how good they can feel about contending next year in future years with what they've got. So they really may rethink everything and start thinking about it. Maybe we build around someone else, and then start to build kind of a new team here. So it'll be interesting to see. Hey, while I'm on that subject, I do want to mention of building a new team, Philadelphia 70, sixers hired Daryl Morey in their front office, as I believe is director of basketball operations. So he's not GM, but they just sort of an interesting one to me, because, you know, we talked a few weeks back about what are they going to do with Ben Simmons and Joel and bead and hard Doc Rivers and so we kind of talked Well, maybe they're gonna keep them and try to make one last run. Now they're bringing in the the father of basketball analytics and Daryl Morey who stepped down from the Houston Rockets earlier this offseason. And to me, that's a really interesting story that's kind of flown under the radar this summer, or this offseason. I'm used to saying summer for the NBA offseason.

Mike Lewis 16:17

Yeah, it is interesting, um, you know, and in some ways what the Sixers have done now bringing in, you know, in some ways they've, so they brought in more, and they brought in Doc Rivers, from other situations that almost appear better than the situation that the Sixers have, but to me, that's what's kind of fascinating about this direction. Yeah, you know, I mean, the Sixers are I think you can make a case that they are one of the more interesting franchises over the last few years, you know, going all the way back to of course, the, the process now, trying to, I mean, it's always kind of fascinating the idea of like, sort of building on the non player side in terms of that, that infrastructure, because you you seldom see that done in a real public manner.

Doug Battle 17:11

Yeah, I just think it'll be interesting to see what Daryl Morey does with this team because he's, he's made some bold moves over the years, some of the more bold moves in the league with the Rockets acquiring Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, I mean, all the moves they did to build around and even bringing in James Harden from the thunder way back when so he's been aggressive with news, I know that part of the reason doc came to the Sixers is because of is this the talent that they have with players like mpwd players like Ben Simmons. And I think this is a team that we know a year ago, they were a shot away from essentially making the finals and a finals that the team they lost to one having lost to the Raptors, and then this year, we're, you know, an early exit from the playoffs, but they were banged up. And they're just, they're such a fringe team. They're right on the fringe of like not making the playoffs, but they're also kind of on the cusp of winning a championship and so bringing in a coach like Doc, and then a really bold, front office executive and Daryl Morey makes me real curious to see what's going to happen with that franchise moving forward this year.

Mike Lewis 18:23

I think that's the right word kind of curious. Because I think that's, you know, the kind of nails down as they become this kind of question mark going into going into the season, going into the season. In luck. There's another interesting question, right. I think they're they still talking about a December 22 start date of the of the NBA season. So doesn't sound you know, to me, that sort of sounds kind of distant in the future until I realized, well, hey, it's November 2. And I think the when's the season ended about two weeks ago at this point. If we have a December 22 start, I think that means training camp has got to start in, you know, let's let's call it December 1, which seems really kind of bang bang for teams to reform it for the draft. integrate the rookies, reformulate the rosters, and then get basketball on TV before you know as families gather at the holidays and start this show up again. One more time.

Doug Battle 19:34

Yeah, it's crazy, because typically opening night is Halloween or the week of Halloween. And so we're in a normal year, basketballs just starting up right now. And that's why my calendar for everything is so thrown off because I kind of base my calendar around sports as many sports finalists do. And yeah, basketball. Starting in December. So teams like the Lakers just finished an exhausting run. And they got to get ready for training camp here pretty soon. So be interesting. I think there will be pretty big implications of that, this season coming up, I think teams that are positioned well, to compete or the teams that that had early exits, but that have a ton of talent. So you look at the Brooklyn Nets with Duran and Kyrie having those extra months to get healthy. And I mean, their whole team was hurt. So they really needed that time. Obviously, the Golden State Warriors coming in with, of course, Steph Curry Klay, Thompson coming off of injury, Andrew Wiggins, and then they've got one of the top picks in the draft, which they may trade for, for a star or they may bring in a guy, but I feel like those teams are going to be, I guess, gonna have a special opportunity with some of the other contenders coming off really long playoff stretches, that that may have them fatigued or just exhausted?

Mike Lewis 20:59

Well, even, you know, I think we're also going to move into an era. And like this has been this, this has been an ongoing trend. I tend to think we were first became fairly public was when players started to say, Hey, you know, my team's only playing in the blue bonnet bowl in the college football, of course, I'm not going to play in that because, you know, I'm now focused on the NFL Draft. And, you know, we've got the infamous term load management where Zion can only play 1414 minutes and 37 seconds in each game, and then has to shut it down. Yeah, well, well, we've referenced Ezekiel Elliott, right. I mean, in some ways, it's, you know, you get into the question of, when does zekiel Elliott say, you know what, I don't want to carry the ball 30 times when we are going, you know, when we're going to win four games in a given season. And so with this quick NBA turnaround? Well, you know, the obvious question, does LeBron James feel like showing up for a December 22. game after the 19th 2019 2020 season?

Doug Battle 22:17

Yeah, and I think the NBA is gonna have to be pretty hard on that. I know, they've they've tightened up on load management over the years is, and the bottom line is, I guess it's different now without fans in the stadiums. But there's years where people buy their tickets ahead of the season, because tickets are not cheap. And I can imagine, you know, buying tickets for your kid to go see his favorite player, LeBron James, in months ahead of time. And then that being one of the games that LeBron decides to sit out that year just to rest his legs and having spent $300 for for you can go and and so I think for fans, it's a big issue for players. That's not that's no big deal to them. And so the league's in a in a tough position where they need to find a way to incentivize players to play as many games as possible, even though it may not be in their best interest competitively.

Mike Lewis 23:14

Okay, so this

you know, it's like that. So then the question becomes, like I said, we are taping this on November 2, we will drop it out there November 3, obviously, November 3, we referenced it already the start to the week of vote counting the the biggest American sports or competitive story has of course, been the heavyweight bout between Joe Biden and Donald Trump. So how much of a stomach Do you have to sort of dance around this third rail of politics and and luck? It's, to me, it's a legitimate story for what we do here. Yeah. Donald Trump obviously has a core of fans. I'm not sure that Joe Biden has so much as a I don't know that Joe Biden has any real fans. But there is of course, you know, you referenced in passing that is Georgia, Florida hate week. And so this is actually Donald Trump love versus hate week in terms of election. 2020.

Doug Battle 24:24

Yeah, I think so. And for those listening, please don't take anything I say as a political stance. I just want to observe this on the podcast and not you know, say anything too crazy, but I really like how john Delaney put it on Saturday Night Live on Saturday, he was hosting. He's one of my favorite comedians, and he mentioned that there's Oh, yeah, they want they want me to make an announcement. There is going to be an old man competition on Tuesday, and you're gonna vote for your favorite old man and want him we might keep our favorite old man or we might get into New old man in the position of favorite old man. But that's what's happening on Tuesday. If from Yeah, from an analytic standpoint, it's super, super interesting because polls, and we've talked about this before polls have heavily favored Joe Biden. There's still a camp of people that believe the polls are biased or skewed. There's another camp of people. And to me, this is a more, I guess, believable angle, that believe that the nature of this election and the nature of the candidates skews it toward Joe Biden, with so many silent Trump voters are quiet, people who don't necessarily want to be publicly associated with Donald Trump, but they do vote for him due to, I guess, liking him better than the other candidate, or whatever reason those people vote. And so it's going to be interesting to see if like in 2016, if those polls predict the right or wrong outcome, obviously, 2016 it was wrong. And there's people that really doubt the polls now. And I think this year will be a big, it'll be big for people's trust of such polls and moving forward. And I guess on the analytic side, just kind of re adjusting how we analyze these situations,

Mike Lewis 26:27

it's good way to good way to start it.

And I'll I'll admit, you know, I like to be able to sort of wrap when we talk about some of the analytics out there. And look, you know, I mean, it, ESPN has developed an amazing analytics, capacity in terms of the data feeds where, you know, they'll do stuff where, you know, projecting out who's going to win a game and having them moving forecast throughout the entire game, you know, of course, based this based on the score of the game, the position of the ball, sort of looking at historical trends and putting, you know, putting a projection out there, it's kind of crazy, right? The idea, I love that, that, you know, TMA has a 17% chance of winning the game, and this moves up to 30, after they score. It, you know, it's, in some ways, this is what has happened with, with politics now. And this really goes back to 538. And in for those of you that are kind of more casual observers about this, the 538 stuff is not particularly complex. What it is really about is comedy combination of a combination of different data set sources, and essentially weighting of those data sources using something called Bayesian statistics. The flaw potentially, in all of this stuff in this is kind of a, you know, let's try, I'll try and keep this intuitive for a second. You know, the, the problem in statistical models, using them to project the future is something that people will call out of range forecasting. And typically, when they say out of range forecasting, they're talking about applying a model to a different circumstance of the data. But all statistical forecasts are out of range of the data, because they're moving into the because they're moving into the future, right. They're trying to project things based on past information. And so you know, things like political polls are based on guesses as to the composition of the electorate, in terms of how many democrats there are, how many Republicans, the percentages of women that are going to vote versus man. And so when you're going through a, I'll call this a cultural inflection point, with candidates that are one candidate that uniquely inspires passion or hate, the question becomes, how much of that is in fact, worth worth looking at, and how much of that continues to be valid? I don't remember the source. But I saw something that it was a little blurb talking about over senior senior voters. And the punch line essentially, was that if you ask senior voters who they're going to vote for, and I'm getting these numbers wrong, but if you just directly ask him on the phone, maybe Biden has a 3% advantage. But if you allow them to fill out a form, so there isn't another human being asking him the question, then suddenly, Trump was up 10 points. Wow. Right. And this is this is nothing. This is nothing new in terms of survey research. It's a well known fact, right? That if I ask someone you know Question, then suddenly there's a peer effect, the person doesn't want to create a problem, right? They essentially want to give me what I, you know, they want to take the less controversial a lot of people want to take the less controversial approach, yeah, and input and put that out there when suddenly it's you know, what are they actually thinking and it's anonymous, then sometimes these things really, really change dramatically.

Doug Battle 30:25

Yeah, that's, that's very interesting. Going back to what you were saying about using past data to predict the future, when you're in a completely different situation. I think that I mean, my mind immediately went to sports and in the draft, and looking at guys like Patrick mahomes, or Stephen Curry guys that were very unique. And unlike anything that league had seen before, and trying to project what happens with them in the league based on what's happened with some more traditional type players, or traditional body types, or traditional athletes, and people didn't know what to do with them. And so, you know, it was kind of a mixed bag on like a guy like mahomes, some people thought he would be the best, some people thought you'd be a bust and wouldn't even be a backup, Stephon curry, a lot of people thought he was too small because most guys his size, don't perform at a high level in in the NBA, even though they do in college. And so it's interesting to me with I think going back to 2016 is like we were predicting what would happen with Trump, based on what had happened with people who were very much not like Trump, because the closest thing to Trump in the past is nothing close to Trump as far as his personality, as far as his his approach politically in campaigning. And so, you know, this years a little bit different because Trump's more of a known commodity than he was at the time. But like you said, there's there's a lot of factors that play into how people respond to polling and the kind of the peer effect that you were talking about is really interesting to me. And I think, I think it's going to be fascinating to see what happens, obviously. I mean, the hope is for a clear outcome that isn't super controversial. And I mean, it could really get messy.

Mike Lewis 32:19

When it does, when does that seem remotely possible to you the way the year is gone, though?

Doug Battle 32:24

No. I mean, that's what that's what concerns me. Because if I just can't imagine how, how that goes, but we're getting pretty close to defining out.

Mike Lewis 32:35

Well, in Look, there's a, it's, um, you know, there's almost a deeper analytics story and all this, in that, you know, if the polls are to break down, and like I said, you know, who knows? Well, we'll know. We'll know, later in the week, hopefully, you know, but maybe we won't know for a couple of weeks. But, you know, we come back to this notion of, you know, like, so how do you how do you did figure out what's gonna happen, right? I mean, that's, in some ways, that's the core of analytics in very simple terms. And then something like an election. Well, you you call people in you ask people, then the question becomes, is that system going to going to break down over time. And so we've got this idea of like, people don't want to say the people don't want to say that they're voting for the bad orange man. So maybe they'll keep that to themselves. We've got people that in like, I mean, that the old joke about polling has always been, Hey, have you ever responded to a poll from on politics and told someone who you're gonna vote for? If I asked that question in a class of 50 students, you know, maybe one handle go up. So we do have this fundamental question of who's actually self selecting to answer these things. So I mean, there's always been these elements that make it kind of the make it kind of shaky. Now is some of these, you know, look, we live in a very strange culture. And it's nothing that I'm actually a fan of. One of the minor sports stories of last week, though, maybe it's a major story, if you think about the culture as a whole is that jack Nicklaus endorsed Donald Trump and Twitter rained down hell on jack Nicklaus. Right. I mean, there's there's your There's your lesson, your your first lesson in terms of why people might not want to speak out in favor of Yeah, of one particular candidate. The question becomes a, you know, as we move to this very hyper partisan environment, is that kind of data source going to be a particular value going forward? Or is the polling which is part of let's say, the market research apparatus? Is that going to be effective and to bring it back to a sports analogy? In some ways, right. If there's a funny Mental change in, you know, if you've got these forecasts of which team is going to win a league, but you drop a dramatically different rule in it, you know, how good are those forecasts? We pay so much attention to polling in this country, that there's in Look, I don't know how much people talk about this. There's almost even a danger in polling right in that when the message goes out there that Biden is winning by 10 points. How does that actually affect the election? Right? I mean, it has some impact. Does it discouraged Trump voters? Does it fire up Trump voters? But so there's just so many of these unknowns and in luck, every cycle, it seems like we get more and more of these polls, and now more and more of these of these projections?

Doug Battle 35:46

Yeah, I think that the last point you raised is really interesting, because I think if if it's a closer if it's perceived to be close, based on polls, it incentivizes as many people as possible to vote. When it feels like one candidate has the lead, you feel like either people are going to give up and say, Well, he's going to win, I'm not going to go vote, or people on that candidate side. So let's say right now, it's Joe Biden. Maybe they get too comfortable. And maybe that's what happened with Hillary Clinton, and you lose some votes from people that just think they got it in the bag and their votes not gonna matter. So super interesting to think about the ramifications of polling and how they might affect this election. And I mean, we'll find out. One thing that's interesting to me that I read about last week was it this was kind of a defense of the polls in the Hillary Clinton election. And the gentleman who wrote this article is essentially saying, the perception is that these polls were off or that they were wrong. And in a sense, they are in that the, the candidate that they favored, lost the election, but let's say for example, let's say if they gave Hillary a 90% chance, based on the polls or 70% chance or whatnot, that's that's also saying there's a 10% or 30% chance that Trump wins it right. And so, you know, it's, it's, it's giving him a chance, it's, there's still an opening there. And that's saying one in 10 times this is going to happen, and it just so happened in this in this defense, it just so happened this was with that one in 10 times.

Mike Lewis 37:26

Yeah, well, you know, I just pulled up the Real Clear Politics average on this, which seems to be the standard for all these news organizations these days. And so going into tomorrow, Biden is up 51 to Trump 44. You know, another fascinating thing about all this is, again, well, we'll continue to make sports analogies to all this just to annoy people, if nothing else, that what if you end up with a scenario where, you know, let's say the polls are off by that there's some bias in these from undercounts or, you know, from folks not answering the phone. Let's say there's a 2% swing, which means that Trump essentially runs the table on the on the swing states, which means that he wins the Electoral College. But unlike in the past, where you know, where Hillary wins the popular vote by let's say, 1%, Biden wins the popular vote by 5%, but loses the election. Does that create something a push, you know, what would the sports analogy be to that, that somehow the one team outscored the other team by, you know, 30 points, but the other team wanted on some sort of technical fluke, right? Well, I mean,

Doug Battle 38:51

I think the closest actual sports analogy, what would happen with the when one team has more like it was made this football Okay, more yards, more first downs. More, maybe more touchdowns, more force turnovers, more, you know, they beat them across the stat sheet and every aspect of the game they beat them except for the final score. And I've seen that happen in multiple sports that happens in basketball, you see one team with you know, maybe they had more points in the paint more threes more rebounds, and somehow lost the game. And and yeah, I think that's the best equivalent I can make with sports. And I wouldn't be too shocked to see that happen, because it happened to a degree with with Hillary Clinton. And I mean, that's another thing that's interesting with these polls is I mean, when they say 51 to 44 Biden over Trump, you know, the, that gives you a general picture, but when you break it down, On Okay, well, what about by county? And what about by state? And it's, it's a little bit of a different game, when you look at it that way.

Mike Lewis 40:09

Let me throw one more thing out there, then this is the thing that I find really fascinating in the last week of this. And I could be I could be wrong. I, you know, we all have we all have biases. To me, the strange thing is, and I think 538 I think the general consensus is that it's about a 75 80% odds of a Biden victory. And again, I don't know how worthwhile these forecasts are, right? It's not like we, we get a lot of data, and we can train the models, we actually see what they, how good they are, we have one of these elections every four years. But I will say this in terms of how the candidates are acting. And again, this could be very much a Trump personality effect. I almost see more confidence on the on the Trump side. And then you add into the fact these these massive rallies. And there is this kind of strange signal out there related to enthusiasm and confidence. That seems at odds with the polling information, which I think leads everyone, even if you're sort of really kind of trust the science of the polling and the statistics to kind of throw your throw everyone, everyone's throwing their hands up and gone. We're just gonna have to see what happens.

Doug Battle 41:22

Yeah. And I mean, I think we're at that point, right. Tomorrow is in the date of this episode releases is is Election Day, as they say, although it might be election month or week or whatever. I don't know. But the final week of Yeah, yeah. So Well, I mean, we'll see what happens. I think, like you said, like, this is such an interesting look on on polling and the effect of polling and the accuracy of polling as well.

Mike Lewis 41:56

Okay, Doug, so Doug, as we move to the end here, what are you looking forward to in sports this week?

Doug Battle 42:02

You know, I'm gonna actually, I'm gonna reframe that question so I can answer it differently. So, what are you looking for in fandom this week? With analytics, because we cover all fandom. And, man, I'll tell you what, I'm looking forward to Episode Two of season two of the Mandalorian Big Star Wars guy over here. That's probably the biggest fandom in the world. So I'm excited for that. Georgia plays Florida. I don't know if you kept up this week at all with either team. But we might see like the B team version of both teams playing Georgia's all American safety gotten a motorcycle accident and they got about five or six starters injured in their last game, Florida got in a brawl halftime of their game and they're likely to have a number of players and potentially their head coach suspended. So that game I'm like, little bit less excited about as I was for especially the way Georgia has been playing. But Mandalorian like it has not let me down yet. And it's like something I can count on as a Star Wars fan.

Mike Lewis 43:08

Okay, and probably shouldn't go down this path. But what is the for someone that checked out a Star Wars during the infamous Jar Jar Binks era? Yes. What exactly is the mallet?

Doug Battle 43:22

Say it again? Mandalorian Mandalorian Yes, manda

Mike Lewis 43:28

is that baby Yoda somehow.

Doug Battle 43:31

So it's not it's the same species as Yoda. But it and obviously the people frequently call it baby Yoda all the Disney has tried so hard to brand it as the child, the child and they'll sell like the child poster or the child doll. And everyone I know calls it baby Yoda because like how do you not call it baby Yoda? It's baby Yoda. Even if it's not technically Yoda as a baby. But anyway, Mandalorian is a essentially a bounty hunter. He he wears the same kind of armor. It's familiar to Star Wars fans from the original movies that if you remember the character, Boba Fett, who was a bounty hunter that captured Han Solo and Empire Strikes Back same armor and but different guy. And yeah, he's a bounty hunter that he ended up you know, hunting down this child and bringing it to some people and then realizing that they were up to no good with it. And it was an innocent child and he's supposed to be like stone cold and heartless, but he apparently has a soft spot for the child, which is baby Yoda. And so he he in season one ran off with with baby Yoda went rogue and he's got the whole galaxy have bounty hunters chasing him now, and he's fighting them all off. And I think in season two, they're trying to find a home for for the child and so he's still in the process of protecting it. And also kind of on a quest for finding his people so he can be raised by his own kind.

Mike Lewis 45:08

Well, you know what, this is a perfect story. In terms of the world of fandom. I, you know, my understanding is this malade Mandalorian Mandalorian. Obviously, you guys can tell how into this I am, that the Mandalorian is a big part of entertainment. But you know, when you're on the when you're on the outside, it's tough, too. It's tough to relate to. So I'll leave it at that. Yeah. I will say this. So, you know, as we're getting ready for today's episode, you know that the theme of leadership is the idea that caught my mind with with the election this week. The other thought that sort of was invading my head was the importance of hope. And I and I think that's something to talk about in a later episode. And the reason I say hope is, you know, my team in Illinois is open to and it's been a rough it's been a rough couple of decades, decades, in fact, with a very few bright spots. And it is an interesting thing to me how how my fandom is affected by because it's not just a couple of losses to start the season. It's when you're going into it with a certain kind of expectation. And then that expectation is confirmed and reinforced and just how damaging that can be to defend but with that being said, you know, I'm going to keep rooting for the aligner because that's what we do is fans who are in the Illini are facing off against the Minnesota Golden Gophers. So Go Illini,

Doug Battle 46:47

Go Dawgs and Go Mando.

Stream the full episode now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher.



bottom of page