The presidential election is only a few weeks away and the polls are heavily in favour of the former Vice President Joe Biden. However, history has shown that the polls cannot be entirely trusted, writes Noel Yaxley. 

In less than three weeks, millions of Americans will head to polling stations across the country to vote in what's likely to be one the most contentious elections in a generation. Due to his ongoing war against mail-in voting, Donald Trump has already sown the seeds of doubt arguing the election will be rigged and has threatened to refuse to accept the result. Leading one political commentator to warn Trump that if he did not accept the election result, he would be "dragged out" of the White House if necessary.

Ever since Biden won the democratic presidential nomination, a bitter exchange of words has ensued between the two septuagenarians. Whilst addressing supporters at a rally in Johnston, Pennsylvania, Trump reflected on his opponent by asking rhetorically "Can you imagine if you lose to a guy like this? It's unbelievable."

Well, if you were to believe the polling data, you would be led to believe a Biden victory was a foregone conclusion. In the key battleground states, Trump is clearly struggling. In Pennsylvania and Michigan, he trails Biden by seven points and in Wisconsin six points. It is much the same story when you expand this out beyond the states. Mainstream media outlets suggest the national outlook is remarkably similar. MSNBC have Biden leading by 14 points, whilst an ABC poll released on the 12th October shows Biden with a 12-point lead. As CNN tell us not since 1936 has a challenger polled better. Even the traditional republican supporting Fox News are struggling to show a clear lead for Trump. 

I believe this doesn't necessarily give a true reflection of voter's intentions. You only need look at the 2016 election to show how political polling does not always guarantee a result.

A study from the Cato Institute found that due to the fractious political climate, most Americans self-censor their true beliefs when it comes to politics. The results showed 77 per cent of Republicans felt afraid to share their political views. With only the far-left comfortable enough to express their political opinions and beliefs.

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There is a huge difference between what people say and what people do. Actions speak louder than words. A stated preference is very different from a revealed preference. I feel it is easier to gauge one's true beliefs through human action, through their behaviour not their stated spoken words. A revealed preference is shown in what people do, not what they say.

One way this is expressed is through economics. Consumption is irrevocably linked to individual free choice. When someone purchases goods, their true clear intention – to own the product – is revealed. This can be reflected in merchandise sales surrounding the election.

Make America Great Again (MAGA) hats sell an average of 12,759 units per months on Amazon, whilst Joe Biden hats sell an average of 395 a month. The engagement shown by Trump supporters is clear from the reviews – over 3,000 took time to review the Trump hats whereas only 130 did so with Biden. This is further reflected in search data. When it comes to Amazon, searches per month for Joe Biden merchandise are roughly 4,000. In comparison, over 425,000 people have searched for Donald Trump merchandise.

The other important place to look is on social media. Whilst tech companies like Facebook have actively sought out and censored numerous right-of-centre voices, what is once again important here is the engagement Trump supporters show on these social media platforms.

Trump has 1.36 million YouTube subscribers, whereas Biden has 270,000. On Instagram Trumps 23 million is more than five times that of Biden. But it is on Twitter where the president is dominant. Closing in on 100 million followers compared to a mere 10 million for the presidential nominee.

Whilst you may be inundated with stories of Trump losing, his campaign stalling and his opponent clearly one foot away from the Whitehouse, you cannot exclude a possibility that a silent tranche of people may just hold the key to another Trump victory.

Of course, the caveat stands that I must be aware of hubris in this article. This is not a prediction, rather a theoretical position. As history has shown, with Donald Trump anything is possible.

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