The final polls say much the same as they've been saying for weeks, if not months: Joe Biden has a huge lead nationally, and a comfortable one in most swing states. For Trump to win, the polls would have to be off by more than twice what they were off by in 2016. Nevertheless, FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver cautions that in their forecasting model, Trump still wins about 1 in 10 simulated elections. And then there are the recount shenanigans to worry about.
I'm Here To Remind You That Trump Can Still Win, he writes.
• As in 2016, Trump could potentially benefit from the Electoral College. Projected margins in the tipping-point states are considerably tighter than the margins in the national popular vote.
• More specifically, Joe Biden's lead in Pennsylvania — the most likely tipping-point state, according to our forecast — is solid but not spectacular: about 5 points in our polling average.
• Without Pennsylvania, Biden does have some paths to victory, but there's no one alternative state he can feel especially secure about.
• While a lot of theories about why Trump can win (e.g., those about "shy" Trump voters) are probably wrong, systematic polling errors do occur, and it's hard to predict them ahead of time or to anticipate the reasons in advance.
• There is some chance that Trump could "win" illegitimately. To a large extent, these scenarios are beyond the scope of our forecast.
• There's also some chance of a recount (about 4 percent) or an Electoral College tie (around 0.5 percent), according to our forecast.
Silver constantly makes clear the limits of polling and forecasting, that they are "mapping uncertainty". But if Trump wins, the credibility of polling and polling-based punditry is gone. Even with all the caveats in the world, the polls can't be that inaccurate and still be worth the kind of coverage they get—except, perhaps, to explain why polling has become a red herring.
A quick survey suggests that the only pollster outright predicting a Trump win is blatantly partisan and also claiming that the election's being fixed for Biden. He knows what he's up to, then. If Trump wins, that guy's the gold standard of polling for the next four years.