Citizen Action Monitor

Predicted outcome of Trump-Biden race by Ottawa-based pollster who forecast Trump’s 2016 victory

Erin Kelly on what her artificial intelligence algorithm reveals about latest developments in the race. –

No 2671 Posted by fw, October 18, 2020 –

“Back in 2016 not many pollsters correctly predicted Donald Trump’s climb on his way to winning the White House. But that was just one in a long line of correct predictions made by Polly, the artificial intelligence algorithm. Erin Kelly is president and CEO of Advanced Symbolics Inc., the Ottawa-based company that put Polly [name given to AI algorithm] into action. And Erin Kelly joins us now from the nation’s capital for the latest in the US and some local issues too.”Nam Kiwanuka, host, The Agenda, TVO

The Agenda, TVO’s flagship current-affairs program, hosted by Steve Paikin and Nam Kiwanuka, explores social, political, cultural, and economic issues. On its October 16, 2020 show, host Nam Kiwanuka questioned Erin Kelly of Advanced Symbolics Inc. about what Polly, her AI pollster, is finding out about the latest developments in the U.S. presidential election.

Here, in bulletted format, is my transcript of Erin’s response to Nam’s opening question: What does Polly have to say about the race for the presidency in the United States?

  • We are definitely seeing Biden is far ahead as the map shows.
  • And if you go to the map on our website you can put your mouse over each state and see all of the issues, and see what some of the sleeper issues might be for each candidate.
  • But right now we’re only seeing about a 10% chance that Mr. Trump will be re-elected as president.
  • Now he did have a bump after his bout with coronavirus. He went up about 20 electoral college votes, which was interesting.
  • Now, the popular vote only changed by 1% but we saw in some of those swing states they liked seeing him [Trump] pull through the coronavirus. This is a very big issue especially in Florida where the virus is raging and the population tends to be older.
  • But he has since lost that lead with his behaviour more recently. People see it as irresponsible. He’s kind of jumped the shark a little bit with that.
  • And we also saw that not having a debate actually favours Joe Biden, interestingly enough.

Below is my repost of my embedded You Tube video of the discussion, along with my transcript of the opening 7:29-minute conversation with Erin, featuring my added chronological index to the video, selected bulletted formatting to highlight Erin’s main points, text highlighting, and links to the map Erin mentioned.

Alternatively, to watch the video of the Q&A on The Agenda’s website, without my transcript of course, click on the following linked title.

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Erin Kelly: Polling the U.S. Election, Nam Kiwanuka interviews Erin Kelly, TVO The Agenda, October 16, 2020

TRANSCRIPT

0.00 — Nam Kiwanuka (NK) – Back in 2016 not many pollsters correctly predicted Donald Trump’s climb on his way to winning the White House. But that was just one in a long line of correct predictions made by Polly, the artificial intelligence algorithm. Erin Kelly is president and CEO of Advanced Symbolics Inc., the Ottawa-based company that put Polly into action. And Erin Kelly joins us now from the nation’s capital for the latest in the US and some local issues too.

Hi Erin. So nice to have you’re here. Excited to hear what you’re saying tonight. So, you know, last night it was supposed to be a debate and then President Trump had the coronavirus and then the debate commission suggested having a virtual debate which he declined. Joe Biden decided to have a town hall, and then President Trump had a town hall on a competing network. Ha. All in one night.

We have a graphic here. Here’s where the candidates stand. Biden is leading by a wide margin on both the electoral college and popular vote.

What does Polly have to say about the race for the presidency in the United States, Erin?

1:05 – Erin Kelly (EK)

  • We are definitely seeing Biden is far ahead as the map shows.
  • And if you go to the map on our website you can put your mouse over each state and see all of the issues, and see what some of the sleeper issues might be for each candidate.
  • But right now we’re only seeing about a 10% chance that Mr. Trump will be re-elected as president.
  • Now he did have a bump after his bout with coronavirus. He went up about 20 electoral college votes, which was interesting.
  • Now, the popular vote only changed by 1% but we saw in some of those swing states they liked seeing him [Trump] pull through the coronavirus. This is a very big issue especially in Florida where the virus is raging and the population tends to be older.
  • But he has since lost that lead with his behaviour more recently. People see it as irresponsible. He’s kind of jumped the shark a little bit with that.
  • And we also saw that not having a debate actually favours Joe Biden, interestingly enough.

2:06 – NK – That’s interesting. Why is that?

2:08 – EK – Well, there’s a meme, if you will, going around the United States, you know, the sort of “Sleepy Joe” marketing that the Republicans have put out and it has taken hold with people who wonder if Mr. Biden is too old. And there’s a rumor that he’s not as sharp as he used to be. And, in fact, he isn’t as good on his feet and as good a debater as Mr. Trump. I mean people can debate that, but he’s not as quick as Mr. Trump. And so we found in the debates slightly favour Mr. Trump. So not having that and allowing Mr. Biden to speak and to address the nation would actually be favourable to him.

2:44 – NK – You know, in 2016 a lot of polls showed that Hillary Clinton would defeat Donald Trump. We know how that turned out – they were wrong. What were the challenges of polling during the 2016 presidential election?

2:60 – EK – Well, in the 2016 election there were two main problems –

  • Number 1, people weren’t willing to publicly say that they were, well, they would say that they were endorsing Mr. Trump to their friends. And online, and you could see it in what we call their “digiographics”, the things that they read and the things that they liked, but when pollsters would call, people didn’t want to admit to a person on the phone or a person asking that they were going to vote for Mr. Trump because of the negative views of him being xenophobic* and sexist, and things like that. So they would tend to say they’re undecided.
  • But we could see, based on how people were behaving and what they were reading, that those people were leaning toward Mr. Trump. [* xenophobic — having or showing a dislike of or prejudice against people from other countries]
  • [Number 2] We also saw really interesting marketing going on. About half way through the summer, old GOP, Grand Old Party supporters over 65 started to say they were leaving the Republican field.
  • And Hillary Clinton was very proactive in saying “Those people are coming to me.” But that turned off some of the younger elements of the Democratic Party who saw Mrs. Clinton courting favour with old Republicans. So she lost some support of the left-leaning Democrats.
  • And then, in the end, those [GOP] people over 65 came back to Mr. Trump, and those other people who were leaning Democratic stayed with Mr. Trump as well.

4:24 – NK – That is so fascinating because now the polls are suggesting that presidential candidate Biden is in the lead. Is there a path to victory for President Trump?

4:34 – EK

  • We’re seeing less than 10% chance of that.
  • Now there are some sleeper issues. For example, if we get a vaccine or a credible treatment, not just a treatment that’s for presidents but a treatment for the general population that’s credible, that would really do a lot to bolster Mr. Trump.
  • If we see Joe Biden having “Sleepy Joe” moments where he looks to be not all there intellectually, if he stumbles or there’s some sort of big moment like that, that’s a [negative] sleeper issue for Mr. Biden.
  • We also see that there is some concern that there are some leftwing radical elements in the Democratic Party, and if something were something to come forward — because Americans aren’t really on that — somebody would come forward to bolster that view, that could have a big [negative] impact on Mr. Biden as well.

5:26 – NK – I mean the election is 2 weeks plus away, which is a lifetime in politics. When it comes to the lead up to an election do you worry the polls results can shape public opinion or, in your view, are polls a reflection of public opinion?

5:45 – EKIn my view [the polls are] a reflection of public opinion. But it’s definitely a big concern that they affect public opinion, and I think the political parties believe that. One of the reasons we don’t work for political parties, we don’t take contracts from political parties is because often political parties will use these as weapons. And if you’re working for a political party they’ll say, “Well if the poll isn’t favourable to my party, you can’t publish, or you can’t speak to the media.” And so definitely the parties believe that. I think there is evidence that that happens. In this particular case, I think Mr. Biden is so far ahead that it’s not as much of an issue in this election.

6:23 – NKCan Polly tell us anything about what issues are motivating American voters right now?

6:28 – EK – Yes, for sure.

  • The coronavirus is the number one issue right now. And if you go to the map you can actually mouse over by state and see what all of the issues are. So that’s number one, [because it] lockdowns the economy.
  • Interestingly enough, the integrity of the election itself is a big concern with Americans and this favours Mr. Trump. And here’s why.
    • People who are centrist or who are more likely to stay home probably would vote Biden if they showed up at the polls.
    • But because the integrity of the election is being questioned – whether or not the ballots will be miscounted, or whether the president will even accept the results – that motivates people who are on the fence to stay home. Because they say “Why bother voting if it’s not going to count, or it’s going to be corrupt.
    • And so the more we question the integrity of the election, the more we help Mr. Trump.

7:18 – NKAnd we should mention that there’s no evidence to suggest that that is happening. It’s just something that’s been put out be Trump’s side. Right?

7:27 – EK – It’s rumours.

[At this point, Nam Kiwanuka shifts the conversation to Canadian politics]

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