Legendary Pollster Scott Rasmussen Weighs in on Recent Polls and Outlines Voting Models That Differ Between Democrats and Republicans

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Live from Virginia Monday morning on The John Fredericks Show –  weekdays on WNTW AM 820/ FM 92.7 – Richmond, WJFN FM 100.5 – Central Virginia, WMPH AM 1010 / FM 100.1 / FM 96.9 (7-9 PM) Hampton Roads, WBRG AM 1050 / FM 105.1 – Lynchburg/Roanoke and Weekdays 6-10 am and 24/7 Stream –  host Fredericks welcomed Political Consultant Scott Rasmussen to the show.

During the program, Rasmussen discussed current polling numbers in the battleground states and the need for a heavy election day turnout by Republican’s for Trump to win. He later noted that the best-case scenario for Republicans in this election right now would come down to states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

Fredericks: Joining me now, Scott Rasmussen. One of the best pollsters ever in the history of polling ever. You can go to ScottRasmussen.com. ScottRasmussen.com. And Scott also has his daily tracking polls and he’s with us now. Scott, great to have you.

Rasmussen: John always good to be with you. And it’s a crazy time with eight days to go.

Fredericks: All right Scott I want you to give it to us straight you’re one of the most accurate posters out there. We’re getting a lot of let’s call it disinformation, fake news, and fake polls. I mean when I see a CBS poll five days after Joe Biden basically said he was going to eliminate the oil and energy industry that he’s up by five in Texas, you know that poll is a complete and utter joke. So we just mock it. Where is Trump now in this race?

Rasmussen: Well nationwide for the last several weeks leading up to the debate my polling showed the President was consistently down by about eight points. I’ll be releasing some new numbers this afternoon at justthenews.com showing the president has made just a little bit of progress. But John the big question here there’s two issues that people need to focus on. Number one if the race is very close it comes down to some key battleground states.

And second, it is very difficult in the best of circumstances to predict turnout. And none of us have ever predicted turnout before or during a pandemic. So what I’ve been doing is releasing three sets of numbers. What if it turns better for Republicans? What if it’s a little bit better for democrats? And right now if I take a look at my strong Republican turnout model the President is just outside the area where he could actually pull off an upset in the electoral college.

So you know it’s a race that is not wildly out of reach but it’s very clear the President is trailing somewhat. Now let me talk about specific states and this gets to the question of turnout. and turnout is not about a polling technique it’s about who’s actually going to vote. In Florida, my baseline polling shows the President is down by two points but he can win that state with a stronger than projected Republican turnout.

In North Carolina, the exact same thing is happening. In Arizona, he’s down by a point but could pull off a victory with a stronger than expected turnout. All my battleground state polls are being released to PoliticalIQ.com. New numbers every day. But they all tell the same story. The President is trailing by a little bit and needs a very strong Republican turnout to win.

Fredericks: Well he certainly seems to be getting that in Florida when we look at the early voting numbers there. They’re exceeding expectations especially in the rural areas republican strongholds. Like last year, if I go back to this week of October 26th. Eight days out in 2016 we were in Trump Tower that week looking at the numbers. We were in a lot worse shape in Florida than we are now as far as the early balloting is concerned.

So it looks like we’re getting a big turnout in Florida. Also, you know what Scott what everybody is underestimating here is trump’s ground game. And that’s never going to show up in any polling anywhere. But when you talk about Republican turnout that’s basically dragging or pulling or pushing or cajoling lower propensity voters to come out.

We’ve got like just in Virginia for example, will have knocked down 750,000 doors by November third with a 37.5 home rate. We’re targeting low propensity voters. That’s the turnout model. We will have contacted via phone and in-person over three million people. There are only four and a half million people gonna vote so those don’t show up anywhere. Biden doesn’t have a ground game. They’ve knocked on zero doors in America. Could that make a difference?

Rasmussen: It could make a difference. I mean that’s the reason you do a get out the vote effort. Ind I think mike you know what I was trying to convey is a sense that while the president is down a small change can make a huge difference. I mean think about this if the President is down by a couple of points in Florida, North Carolina, and Arizona and he loses by a point in each, he can’t possibly win the White House.

But if there’s a ground game that boosts his performance by just a couple of points he wins those states uh that’s why it’s so critical a close race. Now there’s another side to it and this is the thing that keeps me up at night as a pollster. When you look at the models we’re talking about you know and you mentioned you go back to four years ago or you go back to some other earlier, times that’s the way we normally look at models to see how they’re doing.

To see how they compare. But the last time that there was a pandemic in America was in 1918 there was no polling industry so we don’t have data on this. So yes, turnout at all levels is breaking records this year. The question I have is how many mail-in ballots are actually going to be submitted. Because among people who tell us they’re going to vote by mail Joe Biden is winning by huge margins.

You know we know that people who’ve already voted tend to be a little bit pro-Biden overall. We know that people who tell us they are going to vote on election day are very heavily pro-trump. But these mail-in voters are so heavily invested in Joe Biden. The question is will millennials who don’t use snail mail as part of their daily life actually get those ballots in. And then will they be properly filled out and counted. And so that’s the turnout nightmare from a polling perspective is keeping me, it’s causing me some angst.

Fredericks: You know it’s interesting you bring that up Scott because historically those people that request mail-in ballots historically not obviously everything here is different. But if you go back in history and if you believe that history can repeat itself. If you go back and look at every model an average across the nation for the past 20 years 20 percent of mail-in ballots requested either a don’t ever make it back or b are tossed out because they are not signed, not sealed, checked the wrong box or didn’t put their address on it.

And you know whatever else the stipulations are. 20 percent get thrown out. I mean even if you cut that in half and you say okay this time people be a bit more aware of it even if you cut that number in half I mean that could turn into Trump right there if 15  or 18 percent or 12 percent of the Democratic mail-in ballots don’t ever make it back.

Rasmussen: Sure. And look that’s something we’re trying to address in my turnout models. We’re trying to estimate that. We also know that people who are voting by mail for the first time are three times as likely to have their ballot rejected. But let me tell you where this is leading us. The best-case scenario for Republicans in this election right now is a close election that comes down to states again like Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

And you know that will have a little bit of a feel like four years ago if we get to that point. But the difference is we won’t know the winner in that case for three or four weeks. We won’t know who wins the presidency and the senate. We won’t know who controls some key state legislatures. And the reason is all these mail-in ballots will be counted and there will be legal challenges to just about all of them. Now some states have done mail-in voting before.

Utah does it all the time. But when you talk about a state like Pennsylvania which is a pivotal state they have never dealt with this. It is going to be a bonanza for the lawyers if the race comes down to Pennsylvania. But for the rest of the nation, it will be weeks and weeks of uncertainty where every day Donald Trump’s election day lead is chipped away at by a mail-in balance.

Fredericks: That’s going to cause anxiety for Trump supporters right? There’s no question about it. Because every day you get up you’re going to start with this big lead and every day you get up it’s going to dwindle. And it’s a matter of are you going to make it over the finish line.

Rasmussen: That’s right.

Listen to the full show here:

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Photo “Scott Rasmussen” by Scott Rasmussen. Background Photo “Rockefeller Election Night” by Marco Verch Professional Photographer CC BY 2.0.

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