Alternative Facts Fueling Alternate Realities

When it comes to the presidential campaign, America is divided into two alternate realities. And according to an analysis by the top political polling expert at Ipsos, it is due largely to the alternative facts they are getting from news media.

"Americans live in alternate realities," Ipsos' Chris Jackson said this week, during the next to last monthly briefing he'll conduct leading up to the 2020 presidential election. Based on the current polling and various other election forecast models his team at Ipsos use, Jackson currently gives the edge to Joe Biden (see table at bottom). Ipsos' forecast modeling is different than simple polling, though the average of national and state polling are some of the sources it uses, and they show Biden winning.

They also include base rate modeling for the nation and the states, which has the incumbent being reelected.



The fifth factor -- the main problem heuristic -- goes to Biden. 

That's because the top issue among American voters is the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Biden has a decided advantage on that. He also leads in a secondary issue -- restoring trust in the American government, which is currently tied with the economy, an issue that the incumbent has an advantage on.

Jackson noted that things could change before the election bumping one or more of these issues up or down, but that if the pandemic remains No. 1, Biden should win. If the economy overtakes it, the incumbent should win, he predicted.

Jackson's next and final update before the election will take place on Oct. 29, but he said it's unlikely base voters of either candidate are likely to swing in another direction, because of their ingrained confirmation biases, which is influenced largely by which sources they get their news from.

He cited perceptions surrounding two key beliefs.

One is whether voters believe the official COVID-19 death tolls are exaggerated. A majority of Republicans who say they get their news from Fox news believe this, but that falls to a third among Republicans who say they get their news from mainstream media outlets.

The same thing is true for voters who approve of the President's handling of the COVID-19 crisis.

None of this should be surprising by now, but it is further confirmation that the alternative facts proffered by various news organizations is contributing directly to alternative American realities.


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