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Despite What Trump Tweets, FiveThirtyEight Isn’t A Pollster

Earlier on Labor Day, Donald Trump tweeted out some poll results showing him ahead in Iowa and Ohio, and then deleted the tweets a few hours later. For most of the last year, Trump has boasted of his polling numbers more than most politicians, and I probably wouldn’t have noted the deleted tweets at all, since I was spending Labor Day binge-watching “Jake and the Fatman.”

But one thing about the tweets jumped out at me: the attribution of the results.

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If you look at the bottom of the tweets, you’ll see our website’s logo, suggesting that the polls he was citing were produced by FiveThirtyEight. Of course, there’s an obvious problem with that: FiveThirtyEight has never conducted or sponsored those kinds of horserace polls. The polls Trump cited were actually produced by Ipsos and mentioned on our site like scores of others. FiveThirtyEight aggregates polls and produces forecasts based mostly on that poll aggregation. And while our combined forecast shows Trump with the slightest of edges in Iowa, FiveThirtyEight gives Clinton a 1- to 2-percentage-point lead in Ohio. (In both states, Trump is doing better than he was a few weeks ago.)

So why did Trump or one of his aides think it was our poll? We don’t know, but the Twitter feed Political Polls (@ppollingnumbers) linked to our forecast pages in Iowa and Ohio, which includes Ipsos state polls. Earlier Monday, Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, originally attributed the Ohio poll to us.

Political Polls probably linked to us instead of Ipsos or some other site because we display the Ipsos state polls in an easy-to-digest manner. It can be difficult to find the Ipsos poll on the website of its sponsor (Reuters), and most aggregators do not include the Ipsos States of the Nation surveys. FiveThirtyEight, though, aims to be as inclusive as possible, as long as the poll is real and not sponsored by Hillary Clinton or Trump’s campaign or one of their super PACs. Each poll we use goes into a model that accounts for factors like sample size, past accuracy of the pollster and whether the pollster has results that lean more Democratic or Republican than the average pollster.

So while we cannot claim credit for the Ipsos polls Trump tweeted, we certainly welcome Trump and his campaign talking about FiveThirtyEight. Next time, perhaps, Trump can link to our actual forecasts (which currently show him trailing in the presidential race) and not just the more favorable polls for him “featured” on FiveThirtyEight.

Harry Enten was a senior political writer and analyst for FiveThirtyEight.