(CNN) — First thing’s first: the title song of the week is ‘Greatest American Hero’.
Survey of the week: A new Reuters / Ipsos poll puts former Vice President Joe Biden at 47% to President Donald Trump’s 40% among registered voters. The survey was conducted partially during the Democratic National Convention and partially during the Republican National Convention.
Biden’s lead in the average of all polls has been consistent and most polls (unlike Ipsos) have him with more than 50% of the vote.
What is the point: one of the most interesting phenomena during this campaign has been watching analysts, experts and voters grapple with what happened in 2016. The poll suggested that Trump would lose to Hillary Clinton, and he, of course, won in the Electoral College.
An answer to the current data and the reaction to it comes from Jim Vandehei of Axios. He says the conventional wisdom that Trump can’t win is wrong.
The result of the 2016 outcome for this cycle is that the general public is not convinced by the polls that show Biden clearly ahead. They believe Trump is going to win.
A Pew Research Center poll released earlier this month shows quite well what is going on. The poll saw Biden rise 8 points over Trump, very similar to the average and the Ipsos poll discussed above.
However, the same poll found that Americans believed by a margin of 51% to 46% that Trump would defeat Biden in the election. (Among voters, it was a tighter difference of 50% to 48% in favor of Trump.)
The poll indicates that voters believe the race will turn in Trump’s favor or that the poll is wrong.
Interestingly, the poll was self-administered via the internet with no live interviewers, so it is not as if the voters who said they would vote for Biden had reason to give what they might perceive as the most socially desirable response (i.e. not voting. by Trump).
Despite this, some voters think the election is doomed.
Another question on the idea of potentially hidden Trump voters shows something similar to the Pew poll. By a 5-point margin, voters in an August Fox News poll said they thought more of their neighbors will vote for Trump over Biden. The Democrat was ahead in the race by 7 points in the poll.
The poll of who voters think is going to win is a marked departure from what was happening at this point four years ago. Voters believed Clinton would win by a 62% to 28% margin in a Quinnipiac University poll in mid-August.
However, polls at the time had Clinton ahead on average below what Biden currently has.
And, as I noted earlier, voters overwhelmingly believed that Clinton would win at the end of the 2016 campaign.
The fact that conventional wisdom was wrong in 2016 has clearly had a huge effect on people’s perceptions and not necessarily in a good way.
A plurality of Americans thought Republicans would remain in the House in 2018, even when polls suggested otherwise. Where deleted.
Today, there appears to be a continued overcorrection of Trump’s chances in 2020. Not only do more Americans think Trump will win, but the betting markets have Biden only as a nominal favorite.
None of these interpretations of the data are likely to be correct. It is very possible that Trump will defeat Biden, but it is not the most likely outcome.
While it’s good to use caution when interpreting survey data and recognizing that they only capture a moment in time, discarding it is not the correct answer.
Fortunately, most analysts I know do not do such a thing. They acknowledge that Biden is a favorite, but acknowledge that there is a chance that Trump could win.
Whether Trump’s chances shrink or increase in the coming weeks will largely depend on whether the race changes post-convention.
Please note that absentee ballots will begin shipping in North Carolina later this week and that many people will be voting by mail this year.
If Biden continues to have a clear lead in the polls over the next several weeks, Trump’s chances will begin to decline significantly.