Opinion pollsters have once again proved terribly wrong in the US Presidential election, four years after Hillary Clinton was widely predicted to win and lost.
Polls held just before election day this time around gave Biden an average lead of ten points nationally, and smaller margins in swing states, which all-but evaporated on the day itself.
Nationally, Biden was predicted to lead Trump by 52 percent to 42 per cent, according to polls. In fact, both candidates are hanging around the 49 percent as of now with ballots still being counted.
Among the most inaccurate state polls was an ABC-Washington Post poll that gave Biden a 17-point lead in Wisconsin, a state where Trump is short just 0.7 percent with more ballots still coming in.
Meanwhile a Quinnipiac poll gave Biden a five point lead over president Trump in Florida and four point lead in Ohio. In the end, Trump won both, by three and eight points, respectively.
As happened in 2016, president Trump appears to have been helped by 'shy' voters who turned out on election day but were not willing to admit who they were voting for ahead of time.
Many experts and Trump supporters blamed the polling error on an increasing unwillingness of the public to declare their support for conservative candidates.
Steve Hilton, Fox election analyst, said ” it's been this relentless barrage of hatred toward President Trump and the complete assumption Biden was going to walk it.”
“Because of the incredible degree of hate that's been directed to President Trump and his supporters by nearly all the media, you've got this situation... where people didn't necessarily want to admit to pollsters who they were supporting because it was socially embarrassing to do so.”
“If all you hear day in and day out that Trump is an evil, racist monster, then it's going to make it less likely you admit to supporting him, including to pollsters.”
Hilton was previously an adviser to UK Prime Minister David Cameron, who was ousted from power after losing the UK's Brexit referendum, which pollsters also called wrong.
The effect of 'shy' voters is known among pollsters as 'social desirability bias', as Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight explained in an article ahead of the election explaining why Trump could still win.
It means that people, when confronted by a stranger on the phone asking them what they think, are more likely to give the answer that they think that person wants to hear, rather than their true opinion.
This new phenomenon can actually completely change the way democratic elections rely on polls to give a rough prediction of what may be.