Misleading General Election Graphs Show Bernie with a Significantly Bigger Lead than Hillary Over Trump

Bernie's margin over Trump is six points higher than Hillary's, but these misleading graphs show an artificially larger advantage for Bernie...
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Bernie's margin over Trump is six points higher than Hillary's, but these misleading graphs show an artificially larger advantage for Bernie...

This shouldn't take long. 

There's a post by The Intellectualist being circulated around social media illustrating the various general election matchups. Cutting to the chase, the post is being shared by supporters of Bernie Sanders, obviously because, at a glance, it shows Bernie more easily defeating the Republican nominee.

It's unclear whether this was intentional, but the Real Clear Politics graphs posted by The Intellectualist appear to tell us that Bernie's margin over, for example, Trump is much wider than Hillary's margin. Check it out:

Trump vs. Hillary:

Screen-Shot-2016-04-08-at-12.18.51-PM.png

Hillary still easily wins, but when we look at the graph -- as used in The Intellectualist's post -- showing Trump versus Bernie, the Vermont senator's margin appears much wider.

Trump vs. Bernie:

Screen-Shot-2016-04-08-at-12.22.56-PM.png

Wow! See that? It looks like Bernie has a much more significant lead over Trump than Hillary does. The blue and red trendlines are clearly farther apart than on the Hillary graph, leading cursory, uncritical readers to believe that Bernie's margin is yooooge! and Hillary's margin is... not so much.

Unfortunately, the graphs used in this post are highly misleading.

Notice in the lower right of each graph above, the sample dates are set to "MAX," but the total number of months are different. Bernie's graph starts in mid-August, while Hillary's graph starts a month earlier in July, indicating that the trendlines in Hillary's graph are compressed/narrowed to accommodate the extra month.

However, if we set both graphs to "3M" or a duration of three months, we level the playing field and end up with the following graphs:

Trump vs. Hillary (3 months):

trump_clinton_graph_3m.jpg

Trump vs. Bernie (3 months):

trump_sanders_graph_3m.jpg

Almost identical right? More or less, yes.

Granted, they're not precisely identical and Bernie's margin of victory (+16.5 points) over Trump is nominally wider than Hillary's margin (+10.5 points), but the corrected graphs are a much more accurate representation of the actual margins between the red trendlines (Trump) and the blue trendlines (Hillary or Bernie). 

In other words, the graphs shown in The Intellectualist and shared on Facebook give a false impression of Bernie's prowess, when, in fact, the margins for each Democratic candidate are much more similar, give or take a few points.

In the age of social media and clickbait, posts like the one on The Intellectualist are chum. As we discussed ad nauseam during the viral Snowden story, social media propels falsehoods around the globe before the truth gets its pants on. Such appears to be the case with this. A difference of several points has been (perhaps inadvertently) illustrated to be much broader. Then, from there, the word goes forth that Bernie fares better than Hillary -- and here's a graph to prove it! But reality isn't so convenient. Unfortunately, reality is too often superseded by misleading crap like this.