345 Days Out: Trump Stronger Than Ever?

I had thought about doing another blog post update at the one year mark, but never got around to it. So I guess for now I am sticking to approximately every 50 days. We are now just under the 350 day mark. And it is a long holiday weekend, so I have some time. So here goes.

These only represent snapshots where I look back at how things have changed recently. The live current situation is updated whenever new polls come out, as quickly as I can manage given other commitments. That live status is now the main page of ElectionGraphs.com instead of this blog, since it is always more current.

Anyway, the TL;DR of where things are right now:

  • The last 50 days of polls have been great for Trump and horrific for Biden. Specifically starting in early October there have been poll after poll after poll showing Trump leading in critical states.
  • With this change, the situation has moved from "A toss up race with Trump slightly favored" 50 days ago to "If the election was today, Trump would be the heavy favorite."
  • Although down a little bit from his peak at the end of October, Trump is very near his all time best polling compared to his Democratic rivals, not just in this cycle, but also far outperforming his own numbers in both 2016 and 2020.
  • That fact should NOT be underestimated. Because of that, Trump is most definitely favored right now. Democrats acting like everything is fine are deluding themselves. Polls right now are NOT predictive of the final outcome. But they do indicate where things are now, and where things are now is that Biden has lots of work to do.

There are several reasons for Biden and his partisans not to despair yet though:

  • The election is not today, there are nearly 350 days of developments yet to play out, including several Trump trials. These may or may not end up damaging Trump's poll numbers, but they represent a major source of uncertainty.
  • Historically incumbent candidates have been weakest about a year out before their elections, and have often "come back" and finished strongly, using the advantages of incumbency to benefit their campaigns.
  • The "heavy favorite" narrative I quoted above is in large part due to the fact that this site assumes the pattern of polls underestimating the Republican that held in 2 of the last 4 elections (2016 and 2020) holds again. The picture starts looking very different if the polls underestimate the Democrat like they did in 2012 (which would perhaps even indicate a Biden lead), or even if they are about right as they were in 2008 (where Trump still leads, but it seems much closer).
  • While Trump currently leads in all the critical battleground states in the EG averages, his leads are quite small, with the current tipping point being Pennsylvania, where Trump only leads by 1.2%, a margin which could literally disappear with a single good poll for Biden.
  • The percentage of respondents saying "neither", including both 3rd party support and people who insist they are undecided, is huge. This number swamps the margins between Biden and Trump in the swing states. Both 3P and undecided numbers tend to collapse as the election approaches, leaving a lot of room for persuasion.

Reminder that those who want to see a list of all the polls can just look here, and if you want updates on each and every poll as it comes out, as well as daily summaries of the status for the best polled matchup (currently Biden vs Trump), follow Election Graphs on Mastodon.

OK, now for actual numbers and graphs and such for those who want them.

This is how the spectrum of close states looked as of the last blog post on 2023-10-02:

And here is what it looks like as I write this on 2023-11-24:

There is clearly a lot more red than there was. Here is the movement since last time:

Places where the poll average moved toward Trump:

  • Arizona (11 EV): Trump by 0.3% -> Trump by 4.4% (Trump+4.1%)
  • Florida (30 EV): Trump by 3.3% -> Trump by 7.3% (Trump+4.0%)
  • Wisconsin (10 EV): Biden by 3.8% -> Trump by 0.1% (Trump+3.9%)
  • Michigan (15 EV): Biden by 2.0% -> Trump by 1.1% (Trump+3.1%)
  • Nevada (6 EV): Biden by 0.3% -> Trump by 2.8% (Trump+3.1%)
  • Georgia (16 EV): Trump by 2.7% -> Trump by 5.7% (Trump+3.0%)
  • North Carolina (16 EV): Trump by 1.3% -> Trump by 4.0% (Trump+2.7%)
  • Pennsylvania (19 EV): Biden by 0.7% -> Trump by 1.2% (Trump+1.9%)
  • Minnesota (10 EV): Biden by 6.9% -> Biden by 5.3% (Trump+1.6%)
  • Virginia (13 EV): Biden by 7.0% -> Biden by 6.0% (Trump+1.0%)
  • Texas (40 EV): Trump by 5.0% -> Trump by 5.8% (Trump+0.8%)
  • Iowa (6 EV): Trump by 8.6% -> Trump by 9.2% (Trump+0.6%)

Places with no change:

  • New Mexico (5 EV): Biden by 9.3%
  • New Hampshire (4 EV): Biden by 8.6%
  • Maine CD2 (1 EV): Biden by 1.6%
  • Nebraska CD2 (1 EV): Trump by 4.7%

Places where the poll average moved toward Biden:

  • Colorado (10 EV): Biden by 7.0% -> Biden by 7.8% (Biden+0.8%)
  • Ohio (17 EV): Trump by 10.6% -> Trump by 9.2% (Biden+1.4%)

The overwhelming trend is obviously toward Trump in this timeframe. The small movements in Colorado and Ohio in the other direction don't matter much in the face of all the movement elsewhere, especially since neither of these two states are particularly competitive.

No states flipped from the Trump side to the Biden side. And while there are lots of states that moved toward Trump without flipping sides, lets take a closer look at the four states (highlighted in red above) where the EG average actually flipped from having Biden ahead to having Trump ahead:

Starting with Pennsylvania as it is both the tipping point state and of these four the one with the most electoral votes, so a doubly critical state.

In the past in these posts, I've just shown the graph, but this time I'm including the status block that shows the averages for each candidate as well. Plus the "neither" number, which I added to the display a few weeks ago within the "<>" brackets.

As I mentioned in the TL;DR, this shows a big part of the story that otherwise is not visible. Yes, Trump is up by 1.2% in my average, but the average also shows full 14.4% refusing to support either. This just puts that 1.2% in context that is necessary to understand the potential volatility of that margin number.

Having said that, let's look at the trend. Biden's lead in Pennsylvania had peaked in June, and was slipping away a bit since, but the big jump came at the beginning of October. Although it looks like this jump coincides pretty closely with the start of the Israel-Hamas war, a few of the polls that started this move toward trump actually were in the field right before that. But additional polls later in the month confirmed the trend.

In the end this moves Pennsylvania from a small Biden lead to a small Trump lead. But given where all the other states lie, Pennsylvania is one of the critical states. For both candidates, most of the likely paths to victory include Pennsylvania.

The story looks similar in Michigan, except the upward trend seems less abrupt, looking like more of a continuation of a trend that started in June rather than something abrupt and new in October. The "neither" group is even bigger here than in Pennsylvania.

All of these seem similar to a degree. All have a movement toward Trump in October, all have a huge number in the "neither" category. In Wisconsin's case, we also have what is currently the closest state in our poll averages. Yes, there is a Trump lead in the poll average, but just barely.

Now, given the history of how the final poll averages did in 2008-2020, I translate a 0.1% Trump lead into a 63.3% chance of Trump winning the state if the election was today, simply because looking over all of those years, more often than not a nearly tied poll average resulted in a Republican win.

Finally Nevada. Nevada had been straddling the center line since April. The jump toward Trump in this case really didn't hit until the end of October rather than the beginning. That may just be related to when there was polling and when there wasn't though. We still aren't at the point in the cycle where all the close states are being polled every week or anything.

This move just puts Nevada back where it had been in the first part of the year though.

All four of these states are in the situation where a small number of polls favoring Biden could flip the average back to the other side quickly. So the situation is volatile. That will always be true in a situation where the tipping point state is "close". There is lots of opportunity for the situation to change.

But as of right now, the national situation looks like this:

All of this looks incredible for Trump, and horrible for Biden.

As of right now Trump is ahead in all the critical states, and in the probabilistic views, to look good for Biden, he would not only have to be leading in those states, but leading by a couple percent.

Looking at how the probabilistic ranges have evolved in terms of the Biden win odds:

  • 2023-03-25: Between 17.8% and 25.8%
  • 2023-04-24: Between 24.9% and 32.3%
  • 2023-05-21: Between 34.9% and 35.9%
  • 2023-06-25: Between 43.9% and 46.0%
  • 2023-08-13: Between 42.9% and 44.2%
  • 2023-10-01: Between 35.7% and 44.2%
  • 2023-11-26: Between 3.0% and 23.1%

This is the lowest Biden has been this cycle.

Looking at the two odds charts:

These vary by how the eventual errors between poll averages end up correlating between states.

That is, in the independent states version, the polls can be off from historical norms in one direction in one state, and in the other direction in the next state and there is no relation between what happens in one state and what happens in another. Whereas in the uniform swing model, if polls underestimate one side, they do so in the same way in every state. Of course the reality is somewhere in between.

The general shape is the same, but the Independent States version is more dynamic, so it is nicer to visualize trends. At the moment it is also worse for Biden and better for Trump, basically because the polls have to be underestimating the Democrats in multiple states to get to a Biden win, where with Uniform swing, you just have to have the nationwide error be missing Biden support.

Moving away from win odds to the Electoral College, here are the current views for each of the three ways EG has of showing the range of possible outcomes:

We are just showing all the different ways of looking at the same picture here. The median cases with Trump ahead by several states, but Biden wins are possible if he flips a few of the key states.

The other way we have of measuring how hard those flips would be besides the probabilistic models, is looking at the "tipping point", which is the margin in the state that would put the winner over the top.

Here is how that number has evolved:

  • 2023-03-25: Trump by 0.7% in Wisconsin
  • 2023-04-24: Trump by 0.5% in North Carolina
  • 2023-05-21: Trump by 0.2% in Wisconsin
  • 2023-06-25: Biden by 0.9% in Georgia
  • 2023-08-13: Biden by 0.7% in Michigan
  • 2023-10-02: Biden by 0.7% in Pennsylvania
  • 2023-11-26: Trump by 1.2% in Pennsylvania

Or in graph form:

One point that shows up more in this view than in the others, is that there has already been some movement back toward Biden after a peak around the beginning of November.

And it is a good time to point out again that 1.2% is not much. The tipping point went from Biden by 1.6% at the end of September to Trump by 1.9% at the end of October. These numbers can be volatile and move quickly. If the election was today, Biden would be an underdog, but there is time.

Having said that, the overall trends compared to 2016 and 2020 are dismal for Biden. For more than a year, Trump's polling has been consistently better than the previous cycles looking at both the median electoral college result and the tipping point:

Even with all the reasons I gave that Biden isn't out of the game even though numbers don't look great right now, this last observation should concern Biden folks the most.

Maybe the polls are all just wrong, and completely missing a large swath of Biden support. But if not… then Biden is not only running behind the pace of his narrow win in 2020, but is also lagging Clinton's loss in 2016.

Team Biden has some work to do. Running on a strategy of "well, we won last time" and/or "Trump's support will eventually collapse" is highly risky.

OK, quick look at the "What if it isn't Biden vs Trump" chart:

At this point there is finally just about enough polling to consider the Biden vs DeSantis numbers trust worthy as well as the Biden vs Trump numbers.

But you can safely ignore all of the others. There just isn't enough polling to say anything meaningful about those combinations. Don't trust those lines.

But we do see that with this latest surge, Trump once again does better against Biden than DeSantis does.

To explore Biden vs DeSantis more, look here.

Finally, as usual, closing with the current Biden vs Trump map:

345.1 days until polls start to close on Election 2024.

400 Days Left (Well, 401)

Welp, I seem to have gotten into a pattern of a blog update every 50 days, even though in my head I was aiming for every 28 days at this point. The last two posts were when there were about 500 and 450 days until the election, now there are about 400. Oops.

Posts will still accelerate as we get closer to the election of course, but the main place you should be looking for the current situation is not these blog posts anyway, it is the 2024 Electoral College page. That is updated regularly whenever new state level polls come out. At this point that is generally at least once a week, and often more frequently than that.

Because of that, I actually have now switched things around so if you just go to electiongraphs.com you will now end up there instead of the blog. You can always click through to the blog if you want, where I'll post occasional posts like this one summarizing how things have evolved lately. But you can see that from the graphs yourself too of course.

OK, before I go through the details of how things have changed over the last 50 days, here is the quick summary for those who don't want to read the rest:

  • If a Biden vs Trump election was held today, it would still be a dead heat and could easily go either way. A ton of critical states are "too close to call".
  • Biden has a narrow lead if you take the polls at face value, but given that on average in the last four election cycles polls have tended to underestimate the Republican, I still give Trump a slight edge on the probabilistic views.
  • From November until June the trend was in Biden's direction. But some polls I added in August, which covered late June dates, bounced things back in Trump's direction a bit, and things have been pretty steady since then.

OK, now for all the detail for folks who want it.

I'm not going to count and list all the individual polls that have been entered since the last update like I have before. Takes too much time. For those who just want to see a list of all the polls, look here.

If you want updates on each and every poll as it comes out, as well as daily summaries of the status for the best polled matchup (currently Biden vs Trump), follow Election Graphs on Mastodon.

OK, so to get started, we will look at how the spectrum of close states has changed.

This is how it looked when I did the last blog post on 2023-08-13:

And here is how it looks now on 2023-10-02:

The states where the poll average moved toward Trump are:

  • Pennsylvania (19 EV): Biden by 1.6% -> Biden by 0.7% (Trump+0.9%)
  • Arizona (11 EV): Biden by 0.3% -> Trump by 0.3% (Trump+0.6%)
  • Virginia (13 EV): Biden by 7.5% -> Biden by 7.0% (Trump+0.5%)
  • Wisconsin (10 EV): Biden by 4.0% -> Biden by 3.8% (Trump+0.2%)
  • Nevada (6 EV): Biden by 0.5% -> Biden by 0.3% (Trump+0.2%)
  • Iowa (6 EV): Trump by 8.5% -> Trump by 8.6% (Trump+0.1%)

And the states where the poll average moved toward Biden are:

  • Michigan (15 EV): Biden by 0.7% -> Biden by 2.0% (Biden+1.3%)
  • North Carolina (16 EV): Trump by 2.6% -> Trump by 1.3% (Biden+1.3%)
  • New Hampshire (4 EV): Biden by 6.0% -> Biden by 8.6% (Biden+2.6%)

Overall, this time more states in this center part of the spectrum are moving toward Trump than toward Biden.

Only Arizona crossed the center line this time though. Lets see what is happening there:

Last time Arizona was just barely on the Biden side. Now it is just barely on the Trump side. All but one of the 5 polls in the average show a margin under 5%.

The exception is a Prime poll that released 2 results. First was a 4% Trump lead in a straight Biden vs Trump matchup. Second was if you added a hypothetical unnamed No Labels candidate. That expanded Trump's lead to 10%. In the case of polls that release multiple results, I include them as their average within the larger average, so this shows a 7% Trump lead for aggregate of the two Prime results. Absent that, Arizona would still be slightly on the blue side. But I don't pick and choose polls to include. The average is the average.

Given we are right on the edge, it would be reasonable to expect Arizona to bounce back and forth around that centerline a bit as the next few Arizona polls come in.

The same is true with all the "close states" really, although obviously some are closer to zero margin than others. They should all be considered states that could go either way, which is why in our summary, we show ranges of possibility, not point estimates. So here is what that looks like now:

Note that if you look at ANY of the ranges above, each looking at the situation in different ways, every single one of them includes either candidate winning. This is the nature of a close race.

Both of my probabilistic views show Trump favored , while the straight up averages show Biden slightly favored. This is because the probabilistic views take into account that on average over the last four election cycles, the polls have underestimated the Republican in the closest states. But either way, they all show a race that could go either way.

Lets look at the evolution of the Biden win odds in these blog post updates:

  • 2023-03-25: Between 17.8% and 25.8%
  • 2023-04-24: Between 24.9% and 32.3%
  • 2023-05-21: Between 34.9% and 35.9%
  • 2023-06-25: Between 43.9% and 46.0%
  • 2023-08-13: Between 42.9% and 44.2%
  • 2023-10-01: Between 35.7% and 44.2%

The net result of all the state level changes definitely puts Biden in a weaker position than at the last update. Lets look at the "Independent States" chart first, since it is the most dynamic:

Where are we? Well, you can see that things were generally heading toward Biden from November 2022 until the end of June 2023, then things popped back up toward Trump a bit, and things have actually been pretty stable since then.

But wait, it popped back toward Trump at the end of June?

But the last update was in August I can hear you saying.

Yes. But remember that Prime poll in Arizona? The one with the No Labels alternative result? I had initially entered that data into the Election Graphs system with only the straight Biden vs Trump result when it came out in June. Sometime later I determined that I had made a mistake in not entering these secondary results on a whole bunch of polls, and went through a process over several weeks of fixing that.

Prime had released polls in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. All close states. These had generally been favorable to Trump anyway, and there already was a bit of a pop back in the Trump direction showing when I did the August update, but their results with the hypothetical No Labels candidate showed the 3P candidate helping Trump in every one of those states except North Carolina (where there was no impact).

On average in the Prime polls in those 7 states, the presence of a No Labels candidate helped Trump (and hurt Biden) by a net change of 4.3% on the margin.

So when I folded in the Prime data including No Labels in August, since these results were all good for Trump in a whole bunch of close states, it moved all the curves in the Trump direction from June through the present.

And we have been pretty stable since then. When these polls roll off the averages as new polls come in, if the new polls don't show the same impact, things will move back in Biden's direction a bit.

Of course, most other polls do not include a No Labels contender. If we actually end up with a No Labels candidate, these polls that included them may end up being the ones that are closer to right.

Once various possible 3P candidates become "real" rather than just hypothetical more polling outfits will include them. 3P candidates also usually fade as the election approaches though.

We shall see.

In terms of the actual Electoral College margin predicted by the Independent States view, the chart looks like this:

The tie line is well within the darkest band, which is the 1σ (68.27%) band. Every view shows a close race, so we should not be surprised.

The two Uniform Swing views look similar, but with a wider range of outcomes and a "blockier" appearance:

Just looking at straight poll averages, and considering any margin less than 5% too close to call, the midpoint has moved around a bit, but the overall range of possibilities hasn't changed all that much.

A better way to understand this "straight poll averages" view doesn't look at the electoral college margin, but instead how much the margin would have to change in the tipping point state to change the winner. Here is some history on the tipping point margin:

  • 2023-03-25: Trump by 0.7% in Wisconsin
  • 2023-04-24: Trump by 0.5% in North Carolina
  • 2023-05-21: Trump by 0.2% in Wisconsin
  • 2023-06-25: Biden by 0.9% in Georgia
  • 2023-08-13: Biden by 0.7% in Michigan
  • 2023-10-02: Biden by 0.7% in Pennsylvania

And here is a graph of how this has evolved:

The picture of course matches the others. At the moment Biden leads in the state that would put him over the edge (Pennsylvania at the moment) by only 0.7%.

Leads that small are ephemeral, and possibly illusory.

The probabilistic views here are all based on looking at the final election graphs averages in all the states compared to the actual election results in 2008 through 2020. Basically, in cases where Democrats were ahead by about 0.7%, they won only about 44% of the time.

So with Biden leading by 0.7% in the tipping point state, this is why the two probabilistic views give Trump an edge, even though the straight up poll averages give Biden a slight advantage.

Either way, the correct summary is "too close to call".

As usual, lets compare to 2016 and 2020 as well:

There are some arguments to be had related to Democratic over performance in midterms and special elections that while the polls may have underestimated the Republicans in 2016 and 2020, they may be underestimating the Democrats in 2024 like they did in 2012.

Maybe. There will be no way to tell until the votes are counted.

But at the moment, Biden continues to not only be weaker than he was against Trump in 2020, but in fact significantly weaker than Clinton was at the same point in 2016. There is a long time to go yet, but the Biden camp should not be happy with this position. Trump on the other hand should be heartened. Even with all of his mounting legal issues, he looks to be in a relatively strong position. For now anyway.

What if it isn't Biden vs Trump? OK, a quick look…

The above compares the median electoral college margin in the Independent States view between the 6 best polled candidate combinations.

Of these six though, Biden vs Trump is STILL the only one where I would say we have good reliable data.

Biden vs DeSantis is getting closer, but still needs to be taken with a grain of salt. There are still lots of "close states" where there haven't even been five polls yet.

And the other four combos on this chart? Just ignore them completely. There are only a smattering of polls on those combinations, not anywhere near enough to even remotely believe anything we see yet.

With those caveats, DeSantis does look stronger against Biden than Trump does on this chart at least.

Odds wise the Independent States view gives Biden only a 19.2% shot against DeSantis compared to 35.6% against Trump.

Looking at the Uniform Swing view however gives Biden a full 57.3% against DeSantis, better than his 44.2% against Trump.

So there is still a lot more uncertainty in the DeSantis picture.

Right now primary polling indicates both Biden and Trump are cruising to their respective nominations. If this ever changes, we'll pay more attention to the other possible combinations and dig a bit deeper.

For full Biden vs DeSantis info, look here.

As I always do, I'm going to end with the current national Biden vs Trump map:

400.8 days until polls start to close on Election Night 2024. Hang tight.

Leveled Off?

I had hoped to do another update four weeks after the last one, but here it is about 50 days after my last post instead. Life gets in the way. Oh well. But it does mean that this update is right on the 450 days away from polls closing mark. So there is that.

The quick summary for those who don't want to read all the details:

  • Once again, if a Biden vs Trump election was held today (it won't be), it would be fundamentally too close to call.
  • Biden's odds are slightly less than they were last time, but in between that update and this one, he was better off, so things have at least leveled off, and may have started moving in Trump's direction again.
  • Biden has a lead if you take the state poll averages at face value, but this relies on several states where his lead is less than the average amount polls have underestimated Republicans in close states from 2008 to 2020, so be wary of trusting those leads.
  • Because of the above, both of my probabilistic views give a slight advantage to Trump despite the face value result.
  • Biden's polling is weaker than both his own polling in 2020, and Clinton's polling in 2016 at the same amount of time before the election.

If you want updates on each and every poll as it comes out, as well as daily summaries of the status for the best polled matchup (currently Biden vs Trump), follow Election Graphs on Mastodon.

OK, now all the details that only the die hard will be interested:

New polling added since 2023-06-25:

  • 24 Biden vs Trump: MIx4, AZx3, NVx2, PAx2, WIx2, NHx2, OHx2, NY, TN, FL, GA, NC, CA, VA, KY
  • 11 Biden vs DeSantis: MIx2, OHx2, NH, WI, TN, NV, FL, AZ, VA
  • 2 Biden vs Scott: NH, OH
  • 1 Biden vs Pence: OH
  • 1 Biden vs Haley: OH
  • 1 Biden vs Christie: OH
  • 1 Biden vs Youngkin: VA
  • 1 Kennedy vs Trump: NH
  • 1 Kennedy vs Scott: NH

Also, after going back and forth a bit on how much I wanted to do it this cycle, I decided that like previous cycles, when a pollster releases multiple versions of their results, like one for Registered Voters and one for Likely Voters, or they do "Definite" supporters vs "Total" supporters or what not. When this happens, I include both versions of the poll, but I weight them so the "sub-polls" together have the same weight as a single poll.

So I've been slowly going back and reviewing older polls I have in my system, and checking to see if they have these sorts of multiple results, and if so I've been adding the "half-polls" I missed originally. I'm slowly catching up with the current day as I do this. All of the below were old polls that I have updated.

  • 31 Biden vs Trump: IAx4, AZx3, GAx3, PAx3, FLx2, MIx2, WI, CO, WA, AR, KS, LA, MS, MT, OH, OK, RI, SC, TX, NC
  • 20 Biden vs DeSantis: AZx2, GAx2, PAx2, AR, FL, KS, LA, MS, MT, OH, OK,  RI, SC, TX, NC, IA, MI
  • 1 Biden vs Pence: NC

As has been the norm the last few updates, I start with looking at the changes to the "spectrum of close states":

As it was on 2023-06-25:

And now on 2023-08-13:

The states where the poll average moved toward Trump are:

  • Michigan (15 EV): Biden by 2.3% -> Biden by 0.7% (Trump+1.6%)
  • North Carolina (16 EV): Trump by 1.5% -> Trump by 2.6% (Trump+1.1%)
  • Georgia (16 EV): Biden by 0.9% -> Trump by 0.2% (Trump+1.1%)
  • Pennsylvania (19 EV): Biden by 2.6% -> Biden by 1.6% (Trump+1.0%)
  • Virginia (13 EV): Biden by 8.0% -> Biden by 7.5% (Trump+0.5%)
  • Florida (30 EV): Trump by 3.1% -> Trump by 3.3% (Trump+0.2%)

And the states where the poll average moved toward Biden are:

  • Colorado (10 EV): Biden by 6.8% -> Biden by 7.0% (Biden+0.2%)
  • Texas (40 EV): Trump by 5.2% -> Trump by 5.0% (Biden+0.2%)
  • Iowa (6 EV): Trump by 9.2% -> Trump by 8.5% (Biden+0.7%)
  • Arizona (11 EV): Trump by 0.6% -> Biden by 0.3% (Biden+0.9%)
  • Nevada (6 EV): Trump by 0.5% -> Biden by 0.5% (Biden+1.0%)
  • New Hampshire (4 EV): Biden by 3.4% -> Biden by 6.0% (Biden+2.6%)
  • Wisconsin (10 EV): Trump by 0.2% -> Biden by 4.0% (Biden+4.2%)

The last few (roughly) monthly updates have been very lopsided, with a lot more states moving toward Biden than moving toward Trump from this group of close states. (We really don't care about how states move if one candidate has an overwhelming lead.) This time though, 7 states moved toward Biden, 6 states moved toward Trump. That is much more even, indicating we've moved into a more stable period, at least for a little while.

Georgia, Arizona, and Nevada crossed the center line.

Let's look at them in more detail.

This time I won't write a paragraph of commentary on each state, you can look above and draw your own conclusions.

At the moment these are the three closest states according to the straight up averages though, all with margins 0.5% or less. You can expect the closest states to bounce around from one side of the center line a bit.

OK, lets look at the overall summary:

Looking at the evolution of the Biden win odds first:

  • 2023-03-25: Between 17.8% and 25.8%
  • 2023-04-24: Between 24.9% and 32.3%
  • 2023-05-21: Between 34.9% and 35.9%
  • 2023-06-25: Between 43.9% and 46.0%
  • 2023-08-13: Between 42.9% and 44.2%

The trend of Biden being stronger each time than the time before has been broken, with Biden slightly weaker this time than last. Lets look at the two odds charts to see if we can get any additional insights.

In both ways of calculating odds (the two extremes of how correlated state polling errors might be) you can see that for a time the odds actually favored Biden for a bit, but then things popped back in Trump's direction. The net result is that we are pretty close to where we were in the update 50 days ago, but the trend has reversed.

Now is this move toward Trump something that will be sustained? Or is it just a temporary blip before the trend toward Biden continues? Of course there is no way to know other than to wait and see what happens next.

So how does this look in terms of the electoral college? Here are the three views:

The first two are the two probabilistic views based on how correlated the state polling errors may be and taking into account how far off polls have been from the final election results in the past 4 election cycles. The third is just taking the state poll averages at face value.

But for all three the key is to not fixate on the green line in the center, but instead look at the green bands. For the probabilistic views there are graduations that don't exist in the categorization view, but in all three, there is a fair amount of green on both sides of the center line.

This means that either candidate winning is a reasonable outcome to consider, thus the summary that this race would be "too close to call" if the election was today.

It remains close. And in the last 50 days, movements have been mixed, so there isn't a clear trend either. Nobody is pulling away here.

Another way to look at the straight unmodified polls is to look at the "tipping point", which is how much you would have to shift all the polls to change the winner. It has been evolving like this:

  • 2023-03-25: Trump by 0.7% in Wisconsin
  • 2023-04-24: Trump by 0.5% in North Carolina
  • 2023-05-21: Trump by 0.2% in Wisconsin
  • 2023-06-25: Biden by 0.9% in Georgia
  • 2023-08-13: Biden by 0.7% in Michigan

Just another way of showing a super close race.

Time to compare to 2020 and 2016:

Biden still lags where Clinton was at this stage in the 2016 cycle, and is far behind where he was himself in the 2020 cycle. Given the Trump win in 2016, for Biden to be feeling good, I'd think he would AT LEAST want to be doing better in the polling than Clinton was in 2016. He is not there right now.

I have heard many folks state things like "Biden vs Trump is a rematch, Biden won last time, so he will win again" or that "surely with all his legal issues, there is no way Trump can win".

It is unwise to make these sorts of assumptions.

Well, what if Trump's legal issues (or something else) at some point cause the Republicans to give the nomination to someone else? (Yes, I know he is way ahead on that front, but what if?)

The polling for Biden vs Trump is still the only combination where there have been enough polls in the close states that I feel confident making judgements on it. Most combinations just have scattered polling, so looking at the state by state info like we do here is almost meaningless at this point.

But Biden vs DeSantis is getting closer and closer to having good polling in the close states, so lets take a look anyway.

Here is a comparison of the medians for the Independent States probabilistic view:

He may be woefully behind in the Republican Primary polling, but for the general? He does better against Biden than Trump. At least in this view. (Again, still with much more limited polling, so the picture may be incomplete.)

Looking at probabilities from both probabilistic views, the picture is a bit more muddy. While we say Biden has between a 42.9% and 44.2% chance of winning, the spread is much bigger against DeSantis. The odds are anywhere from 15.9% to 57.3%. So basically, we don't really have a good handle on this particular match up.

The reason for such a wide spread between the probabilistic views is because of the specific configuration of close states and their averages for Biden vs DeSantis. If we get to the point where I feel the Biden vs DeSantis polling is more solid, AND it looks like the chances of that matchup are increasing, AND this situation persists by then, I will of course dive into that in more detail. But not today.

For full Biden vs DeSantis info, look here.

To close up, the national map for Biden vs Trump:

450.1 days until polls start to close on Election Day 2024.

500 Days Left (Well, 499)

It has been five weeks since my last post instead of four, but I noticed we were coming up on a milestone, so I waited an extra week.

As I start writing this post, it has been 75 minutes since we passed the 500 day mark until the first states close their polls for Election 2024, and we start seeing real results. It will be a bit less by the time I finish and hit publish, but still, it seemed worth noting.

For those not wanting to read all the details below, here is the TLDR:

  • If a Biden vs Trump election was held today, it would be a dead heat and could easily go either way. A ton of critical states are "too close to call".
  • Biden has a narrow lead if you take the polls at face value, but given that on average in the last four election cycles polls have tended to underestimate the Republican, I still give Trump a slight edge on the probabilistic view.
  • Since November the trend has been in Biden's direction, and this trend has continued in the last month.

OK, now some details:

Since the last post there have been 29 new data points added.

  • 16 for Biden vs Trump [NVx2, CAx2, GAx2, KY, TX, IA, VA, NC, WA, MD, MI, AZ, PA]
  • 11 for Biden vs DeSantis [TX, IA, NV, NC, WA, CA, MD, MI, AZ, GA, PA]
  • 1 for Harris vs Trump [TX]
  • 1 for Harris vs DeSantis [TX]

If you want updates on each and every poll as it comes out, as well as daily summaries of the status for the best polled matchup (currently Biden vs Trump), follow Election Graphs on Mastodon.

Let's start again with the "spectrum of close states" for Biden vs Trump.

As it was on the last post on 2023-05-21:

And now on 2023-06-25:

The states where the poll average moved toward Trump are:

  • North Carolina: Trump by 0.5% -> Trump by 1.5% (Trump+1.0%)
  • Nevada: Biden by 0.4% -> Trump by 0.5% (Trump +0.9%)

And the states where the poll average moved toward Biden are:

  • Michigan: Biden by 2.2% -> Biden by 2.3% (Biden+0.1%)
  • Pennsylvania: Biden by 1.8% -> Biden by 2.6% (Biden+0.8%)
  • Texas: Trump by 6.0% -> Trump by 5.2% (Biden+0.8%)
  • Iowa: Trump by 10.0% -> Trump by 9.2% (Biden+0.8%)
  • Arizona: Trump by 1.8% -> Trump by 0.6% (Biden+1.2%)
  • Georgia: Trump by 0.7% -> Biden by 0.9% (Biden+1.6%)
  • Virginia: Biden by 5.6% -> Biden by 8.0% (Biden+2.4%)

Of these there were two that changed categories, so lets take a closer look at those.

In the last update I said this about Nevada:

You can see that what happened here is that what looks like an outlier leaning toward Trump was replaced in the "last five polls" by an outlier that leans toward Biden, thus moving the average significantly toward Biden. But this leaves us JUST BARELY on the Biden side of the fence. The next poll in Nevada could easily flip the state back to the red side. Or it could show that this was no outlier, but a harbinger of a new trend. Too soon to tell.

Basically, the next poll in Nevada flipped the state back to the red side, just as I said might happen. It was another poll that looks like an outlier, this time on the Trump side. The Election Graphs poll averages don't exclude polls, but just glancing at the chart above and using human judgement, I'd probably throw out any of the polls showing either candidate with a lead over 5%. All the other polls show a close race, and all but one of those show a small Trump lead. So if I had to guess the "true" state of Nevada, I'd say there is a narrow Trump lead.

The one caveat would be that if you look at only those non-outlier polls, the rest seem to be trending slowly toward Biden over time. If you mentally draw that trend line, Nevada is actually pretty close to a tie right now. So maybe the real situation is a tie race in Nevada right now, but trending toward Biden.

Georgia doesn't seem to have the same outlier issue as Nevada, but there does seem to have been a shift around the midterms in November 2022.

Before that point, there was only a single poll showing a Biden lead, and most polls didn't just show a Trump lead, they showed a Trump lead of more than 5%.

After the midterms, there has only been a single poll showing a Trump lead, with all of the others showing narrow Biden leads.

So what we are seeing here is the Election Graphs average finally having enough post-midterms polls for the trend line to reflect this change and show a narrow Biden lead, which seems about right for Georgia right now.

The actual poll average right now is an 0.9% Biden lead in Georgia. But based on looking at how Election Graphs poll averages correlated to actual election results from 2008 to 2020, a Democratic lead of 0.9% only translates into a 46.1% chance of the Democrat winning, at least based on that historical performance.

Simply put, more times than not, the polling average has underestimated the Republican, which means the Democrat needs to be leading the poll average by more than 1.3% for me to list them as having a better than 50/50 shot of winning. If anybody wants details of how I calculate that, look at this post from January.

As everyone knows, "past performance is not a guarantee of future results", but looking at past performance is the best I can do.

Bottom line though, Georgia is looking super close at the moment, and like Nevada, could easily go either way if the election was held today. (Which, obviously, it won't be, and things will change a thousand times before we get there.)

OK, so how does all this change the national picture? Here is the current overall summary:

Looking at the evolution of the Biden win odds first:

  • 2023-03-25: Between 17.8% and 25.8%
  • 2023-04-24: Between 24.9% and 32.3%
  • 2023-05-21: Between 34.9% and 35.9%
  • 2023-06-25: Between 43.9% and 46.0%

Each month Biden has been stronger than the month before.

Visually, the two odds charts:

Trump still has a slight advantage, but only due to what I mentioned earlier about the Election Graphs polling average tending to underestimate the Republicans in the last few cycles.

Taking that factor into account here is what the trend in the range of possibilities looks like assuming the states are completely independent:

And assuming any polling error will be the same in every state:

Both of these views show Trump with a slight advantage, but with a huge range of possible outcomes very possible. The darker the green, the more likely the outcome is in that range, with the three shades being 1σ (68.27%), 2σ (95.45%), and 3σ (99.73%) probability bands.

In both models above, even the 1σ bands include either candidate winning, so this remains a situation where either candidate could win easily.

Removing the "well, polls have underestimated Republicans in the past" factor and just looking at who is ahead in each state and what the close states are, you get this:

Looking at snapshots of this on the days I've done blog posts:

Categorization Trump Best / Expected / Biden Best:

  • 2023-03-25: Trump+96 / Trump+18 / Biden+162
  • 2023-04-24: Trump+96 / Trump+18 / Biden+162
  • 2023-05-21: Trump+96 / Trump+6 / Biden+162
  • 2023-06-25: Trump+96 / Biden+14 / Biden+162

It is easy to just fixate on that middle number moving toward Biden. Unlike the two probabilistic models, Biden is indeed in the lead for the first time since September.

But once again the full picture here is that there is a wide range of reasonably possible options, and we essentially have a tie race right now.

A more subtle way to look at the straight unmodified polls is to look at the "tipping point", which is how much you would have to shift all the polls to change the winner. It has been evolving like this:

  • 2023-03-25: Trump by 0.7% in Wisconsin
  • 2023-04-24: Trump by 0.5% in North Carolina
  • 2023-05-21: Trump by 0.2% in Wisconsin
  • 2023-06-25: Biden by 0.9% in Georgia

Once again, this is just another way of showing a very close race, but one that is moving slowly in Biden's direction.

But how does this compare to the last couple of cycles?

So…  yes, things have been moving away from Trump and toward Biden. But Trump is polling better now than he was either 4 or 8 years ago. I've said this before, and I'll say it many more times I'm sure: Nobody should underestimate Trump in this situation.

But what about people other than Trump?

The only other candidate combination with more than scattered polls here and there is Biden vs DeSantis. But the polling at the state level for this combination is still woefully inadequate.

For Biden vs Trump there are enough polls for a full poll average that doesn't rely on old election results as a baseline in every single one of the close states (not counting ME and NE CDs).

For Biden vs DeSantis, the only close states with that much polling are Georgia, Nevada, and Arizona. (DeSantis also has that level of polling in Florida, but while Florida is a close state for Trump, it is not for DeSantis.)

Bottom line, continue to treat Biden vs DeSantis with a big grain of salt until there is a lot more polling. And completely ignore all the OTHER possible combinations. The polling for those is still just completely useless.

Having said that, here is a look at the median case for the independent states model that compares the most polled combinations:

Like I said, ignore everything besides Biden vs Trump and Biden vs DeSantis, and take Biden vs DeSantis with a grain of salt, but…

The recent trend does show that while Trump has been falling vs Biden, DeSantis has been rising. Based on this particular view of the current state level polls, DeSantis would do much better against Biden than Trump would.

Again though, until there are a good number of Biden vs DeSantis polls in all of the close states, I would not completely trust that Biden vs DeSantis picture.

I'm also showing the single chart that shows the best picture for DeSantis here. While DeSantis is improving on the other metrics too, it is nowhere near as dramatic as this one. For full Biden vs DeSantis info, look here.

That is enough for now. As usual, I'll close with the update national map for Biden vs Trump:

I mentioned at the top that there would be less than 500 days left by the time I got the post published. I was right. It is a whole day later. 🙂

499.0 days until polls start to close on Election Day 2024.

More Trump Deterioration

Another four weeks or so has gone by since I posted so it seems like it is time for another update. Once we are hot and heavy in the depths of 2024, there will probably be more frequent updates. For now, every four weeks seems sufficent. It may even be too frequent. State level polling is still relatively sparse, and changes to the various metrics we track here come slowly.

In the last four weeks there have been 28 new data points added to Election Graphs. There were 13 polls for Biden vs DeSantis (GAx2, NVx2, AZ, VA, CO, NM, MN, PA, TN, TX, WI), 12 polls for Biden vs Trump (GAx2, NVx2, AZ, VA, CO, NM, MN, TN, TX, WI), 2 polls for Biden vs Pence (AZ, GA), and 1 poll for Kennedy vs DeSantis (PA).

If you want updates on each and every poll as it comes out, as well as daily summaries of the status for the best polled matchup (currently Biden vs Trump), follow Election Graphs on Mastodon.

Let's start again with the "spectrum of close states" for Biden vs Trump.

Last time on 2023-04-24 it looked like this:

And now on 2023-05-21:

So here are the changes:

  • Colorado: Biden by 7.5% -> Biden by 6.8% (Trump +0.7%)
  • Virginia: Biden 5.4% -> Biden by 5.6% (Biden +0.2%)
  • Texas: Trump by 6.5% -> Trump by 6.0% (Biden +0.5%)
  • Wisconsin: Trump by 0.7% -> Trump by 0.2% (Biden +0.5%)
  • Minnesota: Biden by 6.0% -> Biden by 6.9% (Biden +0.9%)
  • Georgia: Trump by 3.3% -> Trump by 0.7% (Biden +2.6%)
  • Nevada: Trump by 4.3% -> Biden by 0.4% (Biden +4.7%)

6 out of 7 of the close states with changes moved toward Biden.

Now out of these, only one jumped categories in our categorization view: Nevada.

Here on Election Graphs, we usually use a five poll average (to understand when there are exceptions, read the FAQ). You can see that what happened here is that what looks like an outlier leaning toward Trump was replaced in the "last five polls" by an outlier that leans toward Biden, thus moving the average significantly toward Biden. But this leaves us JUST BARELY on the Biden side of the fence. The next poll in Nevada could easily flip the state back to the red side. Or it could show that this was no outlier, but a harbinger of a new trend. Too soon to tell.

Also relevant, based on the historical performance of Election Graphs averages since 2008, the 0.4% Democratic lead here still only translates into a 41.1% chance of a Biden win in the state. More often than not since 2008, when Democrats have led a state with this small an Election Graphs average, the Republican has actually ended up winning.

But this does still flip Nevada to Biden's side on the Categorization view, and this plus the movement on all the other states improve Biden's odds on the two probabilistic views. Here are the overall summaries as of now:

Lets look at some comparisons with last time:

Biden Win Odds:

  • 2023-03-25: Between 17.8% and 25.8%
  • 2023-04-24: Between 24.9% and 32.3%
  • 2023-05-21: Between 34.9% and 35.9%

Here are the two odds charts representing the extremes of how correlated the states might be:

The win odds show Trump continues to have an advantage. But it has been slipping away since November, and while Trump having approximately a 2/3rds chance of winning is decently better than a coin toss, it is very much still in the range where either side has a reasonable shot, and anything could happen.

Categorization Trump Best / Expected / Biden Best:

  • 2023-03-25: Trump+96 / Trump+18 / Biden+162
  • 2023-04-24: Trump+96 / Trump+18 / Biden+162
  • 2023-05-21: Trump+96 / Trump+6 / Biden+162

Here is the trend chart for the categorization view:

There has been no change since four weeks ago to the inventory of states where the margin is less than 5%, which the categorization view imagines as being able to potentially go either way, so the two best cases remain the same. Nevada flipping to Biden moves Trump's "expected" case here from winning by 18, to winning by 6. But the huge range between the best cases shows this is anybody's game.

Tipping Point:

  • 2023-03-25: Trump by 0.7% in Wisconsin
  • 2023-04-24: Trump by 0.5% in North Carolina
  • 2023-05-21: Trump by 0.2% in Wisconsin

So like the others, the tipping point (the margin in the state that puts the winning candidate over the top) shows Trump's lead continuing to deteriorate.

OK, with the comparisons with four weeks ago done, let me introduce something I added to the site since my update four weeks ago. Namely comparisons with 4 and 8 years ago. Here is one of the two new charts:

This compares the "expected case" of the categorization view from this cycle, to where the final two candidates were in 2016 and 2020 the same number of days before election.

What we see is that Trump is running significantly stronger now than he was either in 2020 when he lost to Biden, or in 2016 when he beat Clinton.

There is a lot of talk among Democrats of how in a Biden vs Trump rematch they "won in 2020 and know how to win again". I would simply caution that this is not 2020. Trump is polling better than he was then, and Biden is polling worse.

Trump may be doing worse in my models now than he was in November, but he is still doing better than he EVER did here on Election Graphs in either the 2016 or 2020 cycles. Election Graphs never had Trump in the lead in either of those election cycles.

I have him ahead right now.

Trump should not be underestimated.

I'm still not spending much time on any combination besides Biden vs Trump, because that is still the only combination with enough state level polling to be able to feel confident about the national picture.

Biden vs DeSantis is getting close though, and we have a view where you can compare candidate combinations. On that view you can see that in the last few weeks for the first time since 2021 DeSantis looks like he fares better against Biden than Trump does in the Independent States Probabilistic View.

But the data for everything other than Biden vs Trump is still sparse.

Biden vs Trump has 15 states with 5 or more 2024 polls, including ALL the close states, meaning that we have poll averages that do not rely on "filling out" the average with old election results.

By comparison Biden vs DeSantis only has 5 or more polls in Georgia, Arizona, and Florida. Three states. That's it. So treat that combination with a big grain of salt until there is more polling.

If you want to look at that matchup yourself anyway, here is the Biden vs DeSantis summary.

As for ANY other combination besides Biden vs Trump and Biden vs DeSantis, there is so little data it is not worth looking at, unless you are specifically curious about the handful of states that polled a specific combination, rather than trying to get any insights about the national picture.

But you can explore all the combinations you want on the 2024 Electoral College page, and see some charts I haven't highlighted on the blog yet, as well as being able to click through to individual states to see individual polls in each state for each combination, etc. I encourage you to explore.

In the mean time, I'll close with the updated national map:

534.0 days until polls start to close on Election Day 2024.

Slow Trump Weakening

It has been been just over four weeks since my last blog post.

Since then on a state level there have been 6 Biden vs Trump polls (NC, IA, PAx2, AZ, MI) along with 5 Biden vs DeSantis polls (NC, IA, PA, AZ, MI), and 1 Biden vs Pence poll (NC). If you want updates on each and every poll as it comes out, as well as daily summaries, follow Election Graphs on Mastodon. Right now the polling volume is still pretty low. It will accelerate as the election gets closer. Eventually there will be tons of new polls every single day. But not for a long while yet.

Honestly the situation isn't all that different than it was four weeks ago. There has been some movement toward Biden, but not a really dramatic change. Just Trump slowly getting a bit weaker. But it has been four weeks, so it seems worth looking at things again.

Let's start by looking at how the "spectrum of close states" has changed:



What changes do we see?

  • Michigan: Biden by 2.4% -> Biden by 2.2% (Trump+0.2%)
  • Pennsylvania: Biden by 1.6% -> Biden by 1.8% (Biden+0.2%)
  • North Carolina: Trump by 1.9% -> Trump by 0.5% (Biden+1.4%)
  • Arizona: Trump by 4.1% -> Trump by 1.8% (Biden+2.3%)
  • Iowa: Trump by 11.0% -> Trump by 10.0% (Biden+1.0%)

So 4 out of 5 states with Biden vs Trump polls moved toward Biden.

None of these changed the picture in my categorization view, but  this does adjust the probabilistic views a bit. Here is the new overall status summary:

Since ties would almost certainly end up going for Trump in the end once it got thrown to the House voting by state delegation, rather than confuse things by having to add those up, I'll look at the odds for Biden:

  • 2023-03-25: Biden win odds between 17.8% and 25.8%
  • 2023-04-24: Biden win odds between 24.9% and 32.3%

As always, these are "if the election was held today", which it isn't. This still shows Biden as an underdog in this matchup. But doing better than a month ago.

The odds charts:

As usual, the Independent States chart is more dynamic, but these represent extremes, and the "truth" is somewhere in between. And both views still show Trump peaking right around the 2022 midterms, and slowly deteriorating ever since.

Some of that downward movement is after his indictment in NY, but there was even more before that. So at this point you can't really say that event was an inflection point. The already in progress decline just continued.

Oh, and I didn't mention Biden vs DeSantis, or any other combination other than the 2020 rematch, because that is still the only combination with enough state level polling to be able to feel confident about the national picture. Biden vs DeSantis is getting there. But isn't there yet. If you want to look at that combination yourself, here is the Biden vs DeSantis summary.

Not much else to say for the moment. So lets end with the new map:

561.8 days until polls start to close on Election 2024.

Here We Are: Narrow Trump Lead Over Biden

Since the last post a week ago where I laid out how things stood using just the last five presidential election results as a starting point, I've gone ahead and ingested all 214 state level presidential data points that are already out there into Election Graphs .

The main thing this tells me? Yes, it is still "super early" to look at 2024 match ups. All kinds of things will change between now and November 2024. But even last year in 2022 there was a lot going on in the polling. So maybe start earlier for the 2028 cycle. 🙂

Let me start with how things look now, then go back to how things seemed to evolve over the last year.

I will be looking specifically at the Biden vs Trump matchup.

That is by far the most polled matchup, and the only one with enough polling to even remotely be able to claim there is a good picture of what all the close states look like. Second is Biden vs DeSantis, but that lags FAR behind in polling volume. You might be able to see a few things by carefully looking at select states where there is polling, but it is hard to get a meaningful national picture. Beyond those two, other matchups only have a smattering of isolated polls, to the point it isn't even useful to look at them at all until or unless there is a lot more polling.

So where does Biden vs Trump stand right now?

Here come the map, the summary stats, and the spectrum of the closest states:

Bottom line, as of March 25th 2023, the state by state polling shows Trump with an advantage.

In terms of the straight up categorization view it is a slight advantage. Only one state (Wisconsin) needs to flip to put Biden in the lead, and Trump leads there by only 0.7% in my average.

Look more carefully at Wisconsin, and you'll see that the 5 poll average contains 4 actual 2024 polls but still includes the 2020 result (Dem+0.6%), one of the 4 polls looks like it may be an outlier to the Republican side, showing a full 10% Trump lead where all the others show a close race.

So this Trump lead looks pretty tenuous.

At the moment though, our two probabilistic views show this translating into pretty good odds for Trump. 72.2% chance of winning with the Uniform Swing view, and up to 80.6% with the Independent States view. The "true" odds are somewhere between these two depending on how strongly polling errors end up correlating between states.

Why is this the case if the straight up polling gives us a very slight Trump lead?

Mainly because of what I outlined in my January post about the math behind how I calculate those probabilities. To summarize, looking at all the final Election Graphs averages from 2008 to 2020 in aggregate as they compared to the actual election results, for the Democratic candidate to have more than a 50/50 shot at winning, being ahead in the polls is not good enough. They have to have more than a 1.2% lead.

So some of those states where Biden is showing a 1%-4% lead are really pretty uncertain, where some of the states Trump is leading by the same margin are more safe than they seem.

Well, at least that is what you get by averaging out the poll errors covering the last four presidential election cycles. As covered in that previous post, each of those four cycles actually looked pretty different in terms of how the errors played out. We have no idea what the 2024 errors will look like. But starting with the range of errors over the last few cycles and the variability between those cycles is as good a guess as we have.

Also, everything on Election Graphs is "if the election was today". The election is not today, and lots and lots will happen between now and then. EG does not provide a forecast. We show how things look right now.

With the status above, you would say that team Biden needs to work hard at shoring up Pennsylvania, Michigan, and New Hampshire where he barely leads, and start pushing hard on the barely red states like Wisconsin. And not to take for granted Georgia, Arizona, and Nevada, which even though Biden won them in 2020, right now are looking red. And Florida may not be as far out of reach as it seems, so maybe don't ignore it.

Looking from the opposite direction, Trump should be playing some defense in those barely red states because they could easily slip away if he doesn't, and he should be going hard after Pennsylvania and Michigan. Etc.

Some of this is all pretty obvious. We have most of the same "swing states" that we have had for the last few election cycles. And both candidates will end up concentrating their efforts there and pretty much ignoring the rest of the country. Because that is how races look under an electoral college system.

Now, let's look at how things have evolved over the last year. you can see a variety of different views of this evolution on the 2024 Electoral College page. For now though, I'll look at the Electoral College Margin chart for the Probabilistic Independent States view. It is one of the two extremes I show for the probabilistic views, specifically one that assumes the polling errors between states are completely independent, which to be clear, we know they are not. But this view is the most dynamic in terms of how it changes with new polls, so is nice for showing how the overall race trends over time:

First just an explanation of the graph. The vertical axis is the Trump minus Biden margin in the electoral college. So if it is positive, that means Trump wins, if it is negative that means Biden wins. The dark green line is the median result in Monte Carlo simulations based on the state averages and the probabilities we described in January. The three bands of color are the ranges of outcomes in the 1σ (68.27%), 2σ (95.45%), and 3σ (99.73%) bands. So, roughly, the closer to the center line of this you are, the more likely that outcome, and as the green gets lighter, the less likely that outcome.

At the far left of the chart the ranges shown are just representing the "last five elections" average I posted about last week. Over the course of 2021 and 2022 the averages in the close states slowly filled in with real 2024 polls, pushing the old elections out of the average. As such, it is hard to tell how much of the "movement" seen above prior to 2023 is actually driven by changes in public opinion versus just the averages filling out. By late 2022 though, most of the close states had five or more actual 2024 polls, and we can start to interpret movement as actual changes in the status of the race.

Ignore the jagged ups and down at small scale, and at a very broad level this tells a story of either Biden weakening and Trump strengthening over the course of 2022, OR just the polling catching up to that position after showing a bluer version of things by starting with the 2004 to 2020 averages. Either way though, the trend toward Trump peaked toward the end of 2022. In fact the peak occurs very close to the 2020 midterms in November.

For the moment anyway, that seems to be the moment where things started to go the other way directionally, and started heading in Biden's direction.

To be clear though, Biden is still behind. All three of the views provided by Election Graphs show Trump in the lead at the moment. But more narrowly than he was right before the midterms.

At the moment things point to another close nail biter of a race, just like 2016 and 2020. The picture we see right now shows a race that could very easily go either way if the election was today, let alone allowing for all the things that could happen over the course of more than a year and a half.

Biden hasn't even officially announced his candidacy yet. We don't know if Trump will be indicted, and if he is, if that will help him or hurt him. We don't know if others like DeSantis will officially run, and how they will do. And who knows, one or both of the front runners could end up having health issues that impact their ability to run. You never know. Plus all the normal back and forth of national and international events.

We have a long way to go.

Specifically, we have 591.0 days until the first polls start to close on Election Day 2024.

Keep checking back here for updates on how things evolve!

Oh, and if you want to see all the notifications for new polls as they get entered, and the status changes those trigger, as well as daily summary stats of the overall situation, follow Election Graphs on Mastodon too: @ElectionGraphs@newsie.social.

[Edit 2023-03-25 23:42 – Slight wording change.]

2024 Begins: Five Election Average

Welp, here is the big moment. I have just opened up the 2024 Electoral College section of the site. No actual 2024 polls are reflected yet. That will come over the next few days.

It may still be 598.2 days until polls start closing on the Election 2024 cycle, but believe it or not there have already been quite a few state level 2024 polls. I'll start getting those into the system shortly.

But first, Election Graphs has always used an average of the last five election results as the "baseline" when polls aren't available in a state. So the traditional "so it begins" marker for Election Graphs has been the electoral map using the average of the last five elections for all 50 states, DC, and the ME/NE congressional districts.

So here we go…

Some folks might argue that a better baseline would just be the 2020 results. After all, five elections means averaging out the results from 2004 to 2020. The world of 2004 does not really resemble the world of 2024. That was almost 20 years ago!

There is definitely a point to that. But we're basically just looking for a starting baseline here.

All the states that are remotely close will get real 2024 polls relatively quickly, certainly before we really get into the thick of the 2024 campaigns. So we will get a sense of if states that have seemed to be trending in one direction or the other over those 20 years will continue that trend, or revert to the mean a bit.

Meanwhile, the states that have booked 20 straight years of massive wins for one party or the other may get polled less and take longer to fill out with real 2024 polls, but they are also much less likely to end up being competitive. It would take an upheaval of almost unimaginable proportions for Wyoming and Oklahoma to turn blue, or for DC and Hawaii to turn red.

Based on the five election average, the "battleground" as we start this cycle is made up of all the usual suspects:

These are all the states (and ME/NE congressional districts) where the five election average gives a margin of less than 10% for the leading party.

Immediate standouts are Arizona and Georgia, which over five elections, still are tinted pretty strongly red. One of the questions new polling will answer is if the Democratic wins in these states in 2020 were flukes, or if these should truly be closer to the center of the block above as true swing states for 2024.

Similarly, in the five election average Ohio and Florida are red but not by a lot. They look like they could be in contention. Democrats won both states in two of the last five elections. But in both 2016 and 2020 Ohio actually turned out much redder. And Florida seems to be on a trend toward the red as well, although not quite as dramatically as Ohio in 2020. Will these states go even further red? Or go back to being swingy states? Iowa is in the same boat. Just smaller.

Election Graphs shows you charts for individual states. Just as an example, here is Florida since 1980.

We usually won't look at that much history as actual 2024 polls start to come in. But you can see the individual election results, and how the five election average has evolved over time.

OK, so what does all this mean in terms of who has the advantage as we start this. Well, we are dealing with a five election average, and Democrats have won three of those five elections, so you would expect them to start with a little advantage given how we defined the starting line, and you would be right:

This shows my traditional "Categorization View" which just takes the averages at face value and gives an expected view where every state falls with the average, and best cases for each party assuming they win all of the "weak" states (where the margin is under 5%).

And what do we have? Democrats with a very narrow lead, with the range of outcomes based on the close states falling one way or the other including victories by both parties.

Also above are the two probabilistic views representing the extremes of how correlated poll errors are between states (completely independent to completely in lock step). These are based on looking at how far off the FINAL Election Graphs averages were from the actual election results from 2008 to 2020. See my last blog post for details.

Anyway, both of these also show a close race with a slight Democratic lead that could easily go either way, with Democratic win odds somewhere between 55.6% and 73.3%. Which leaves Republican win odds between 26.7% and 42.1%. Odds of a 269/269 tie are somewhere under 2.3%.

Keep in mind that Election Graphs does a "nowcast". That's "if the election was held today", which obviously it isn't. And we don't even have real 2024 polls in there yet. So this is even less of an actual prediction for 2024. This is just a starting point. A default look at the playing field before the game actually starts.

I'll be catching up with the actual state level 2024 polls we have over the next few days.

So here we go… Election Graphs 2024 has begun!

598.2 days until polls start to close.

Buckle up.

[Edited 2023-03-19 17:53 to correct the number of days until the election as of the time of the post, which I'd made a math error on.]

[Edited 2023-03-20 01:03 to uncorrect the number of days until the election, because I was actually right the first time, plus to correct the numbers in the probabilistic numbers, because I found an error there as well. Specifically, the Monte Carlo simulation was still using the 2020 electoral college distribution which because of the census was changed for 2024. Fixed now.]

[Edited 2023-03-21 05:55 UTC to correct a typo in the last note above.]

Prepping the Math Stuff for 2024

OK, in my last post I mentioned that the next thing to do was:

Finish up the calculations to use all four elections from 2008 to 2020 as the baseline "how well did Election Graphs averages do compared to the final results" data I use to try to generate odds from the polling averages and do a blog post about that.

So I guess it is time to do that.

OK, actually, it is way past time for that. I had hoped to have all this done by midterms, but I ended up spending most of the time I would have spent on that helping to do things like put out campaign signs for my wife's campaign. She won. Other things took up my time too. Anyway. I was delayed. But lets get this done…

Let's start with a simple scatterplot showing every state (and the DC and ME/NE congressional districts) from 2008 when I started doing this through to the 2020 results. Each data point will have the FINAL Election Graphs average on the X axis, and the ACTUAL election results on the Y axis:

As you would hope, these are nicely correlated at this scale. If EG's averages were always exactly right, every point would be along the black diagonal line. Of course, polls don't work like that, and even poll averages don't work like that. There is a vertical spread due to the inherent randomness of polling. A pretty wide spread actually.

But also if you look carefully, you can see that on the right side of the graph there are more points above the line, and on the left there are more points below the line. This means that there is also some bias here. Specifically a bias where the Election Graphs polling average tends to UNDERSTATE the magnitude of the winner's margin.

Let's do a transformation on the graph to try to look into the patterns a bit more deeply though:

That just looks like a messy colored blob initially. But what did I do here? I just transformed things by subtracting out the diagonal. Instead of looking at the actual election results vs the Election Graphs final margin, I look at the Delta… how far off the election results were from the Election Graphs final margin, vs the Election Graphs final margin. So, for instance, if on the top graph we had a point where the EG average was a 10% Republican lead, but the actual result was that the Republican won by 15%, that would show up as x=10%, y=5%.

OK, but can we say anything at all about this blob? Is this just two things that show no useful relationship at all?

Well, in this post from 2019 I actually looked at this before. So let me just quote a bit from there:

Before going further, let's talk a bit about what this chart shows, and how to interpret it. Here are some shapes this distribution could have taken:

Pattern A would indicate the errors did not favor either Republicans or Democrats, and the amount of error we should expect did not change depending on who was leading in the poll average or how much.

Pattern B would show that Republicans consistently beat the poll averages… so the poll averages showed Democrats doing better than they really were, and the error didn't change substantially based on who was ahead or by how much.

Pattern C would show the opposite, that Democrats consistently beat the poll averages, or the poll averages were biased toward the Republicans. The error once again didn't depend on who was ahead or by how much.

Pattern D shows no systematic bias in the poll averages toward either Republicans or Democrats, but the polls were better (more likely to be close to the actual result) in the close races, and more likely to be wildly off the mark in races that weren't close anyway.

Pattern E would show that when Democrats were leading in the polls, Republicans did better than expected, and when Republicans were leading in the polls, Democrats did better than expected. In other words, whoever was leading, the race was CLOSER than the polls would have you believe.

Finally, Pattern F would show that when the polls show the Democrats ahead, they are actually even further ahead than the polls indicate, and when the Republicans are ahead, they are also further ahead than the polls indicate. In other words, whoever is leading, the race is NOT AS CLOSE as the polls would indicate.

In all of these cases the WIDTH of the band the points fall in also matters. If you have a really wide band, the impact of the shape may be less, because the variance overwhelms it. But as long as the band isn't TOO wide the shape matters.

Now, back in 2019, at this point I jumped directly into looking at the pattern based on the combination of all the data from 2008 to 2016. Rather than doing the same thing now, but just adding in 2020, I think it is actually instructive to take a bit of a detour to look at each of the four election cycles separately.

First lets look at just the 2008 data points:

OK, the circles are just the individual 2008 data points, but what is the rest, what have I done here?

I've constructed "envelopes" using windowed averages and standard deviations.

Specifically, I am looking at windows with a 5% radius. At every value for the polling average at 0.1% increments, I look 5% in either direction (so a window 10% wide) and find all the data points within that window, then if there are at least five points, I calculate the average and standard deviation of those points. The 5% is of course just an arbitrary round number, as is the 5 data point minimum.

The bold line in the center is the mean, the next lines out are 1 standard deviation from the mean (about 68.3% of the data points should be inside these lines), and the next lines are 2 standard deviations from the mean (which should contain about 95.4% of the data points).

So the final chart here shows both the general trend in how far off final election results were from the Election Graphs average given where the average was, but also just how variable those results are.

For 2008, we can now see pretty clearly that this looks like "Pattern F".

When Election Graphs showed a tie, on average the actual election results were a Republican win by 0.2%. That's pretty close to a tie too. So not a lot of bias in one direction or another at the center. There is a BIG window though. If the EG average was a tie, the 95% confidence interval goes all the way from Democrats winning by 6.8% to Republicans winning by 7.3%.

But there is also definitely a trend where in cases where when Republicans were ahead in the EG average, they actually tended to win by MORE than the EG average, and if the Democrats were ahead, THEY tended to win by more than the EG average.

OK, you get the idea, so lets look at the rest of the election cycles Election Graphs has covered.

I've made the scales the same on all of these to make it easier to compare the cycles. While these all have the same high level diagonal pattern, the detailed shape of the curves is very different cycle to cycle, both in terms of the central average, and pattern of the variances.

Lets concentrate on those central curves and put them all on one chart…

You can immediately see the two elections Obama was in (the red and goldish ones) clump together, and the two that Trump was in (the light and dark greenish ones) clump together too.

They all have the general diagonal shape (Pattern F), but it stands out how, at least near the "Election Graphs average near zero" area which by definition are the states that matter in close races, how much more the poll averages underestimated Trump in 2016 and 2020, compared to a more neutral 2008, and an underestimation of Obama in 2012. Maybe these all have the Pattern F shape, but the slopes are different, and even more importantly, they are shifted vertically. They don't all just go through the origin.

And of these four years, 2020 is the only race yet where the average curve is above the zero line for its full length. For 2008 and 2012 if the Democrats were ahead in the average, on average they would do even better in the election than the polls indicated. In 2016, that was only true if the Democratic poll advantage was more than a 12.8% margin. But that didn't happen at ANY part of the range in 2020. At every range for the Election Graphs average, on average the Republicans did better than the average indicated, and the Democrats did worse. (Note that is not true for every single data point, just for the trend line.)

Does this mean anything for 2024? Quite probably not. As they say "past performance is not a guarantee of future results". It is unclear what all the reasons are for the shape of these error curves, and if pollsters are actively working on "correcting" things in the next cycle. Were the two Obama curves more "normal" and there is something unusual that just makes it harder to poll races with Trump in them? Or were the Obama races unusual too, and "normal" is somewhere in between? Or was there a systematic error that pollsters have a handle on now, and 2024 will just be a nice flat line? Or none of the above?

It would be nice if I had this kind of data from before 2008, but since that is when I started doing this, I don't. Also of course, you could argue that the world of 2024 is so different to 2004 that it wouldn't really be meaningful to look at that anyway. For other things on Election Graphs I use five election cycles (20 years) as a baseline, so I might still use older data if I had it. At least 2004. In general, I'd love to see how these kinds of curves have varied over even longer time periods. Oh well.

As it is though, since we don't know which way the errors will go in 2024, the best option I have available is to create this same sort of envelope using all four available election cycles.

This is what that looks like:

Doing this you lose the specific distinctiveness of the four presidential election cycles going into this. Instead, you essentially fold in some information about just how much polling accuracy has varied cycle to cycle.

Now, the "core" of Election Graphs has always been the dead simple method of taking the polling average at face value and classifying any states where the margin is less than 5% as states that could go either way, and presenting that range of possible results.

But starting in 2020 I experimented with producing probabilistic results too. Those probabilities were based on the 2008-2016 version of the chart above, and for 2024 I'll be using this 2008-2020 version.

The key is that for every value of the Election Graphs average, we have numbers for the mean actual election result (the EG average plus the delta), as well as an associated standard deviation. From this, we can construct a chart showing for each value of the Election Graphs average, the chances of a Democratic win and the chances of a Republican win based on the historical data. (As usual, since Election Graphs operates off the margin and not raw support numbers, if a 3rd party is ever in contention, this method falls apart.)

So what does that look like?

OK, that's nice at the same scale as all the other charts, but lets zoom into the critical central part here.

OK, given my methodology, this is a bit bumpy. I should probably smooth it out a bit or do a logistic regression or something. But given the levels of uncertainty we are talking about, I probably won't bother. I like a little bumpiness.

Anyway, this is the critical graph. And yes, this does smell a little of "unskewing" the polls. Don't worry though, ElectionGraphs will continue to show the straight up averages.

But what we see here is that over the last four election cycles, there HAS been a tendency to underestimate Republicans. Yes, as discussed above, all four cycles look different, and 2008 and 2012 look distinctly different than 2016 and 2020. But taken as a whole, the Election Graphs poll averages have underestimated Republicans.

So lets look specifically at a few data points on this chart.

Now, technically speaking because the way Election Graphs calculates averages (see FAQ, which I'm just realizing I need to update as well) there can't be exact ties in the Election Graphs average. But if there was an exact tie according to the curve above based on historical data, the Republican would actually have a 62.4% chance of winning, and the Democrat only a 37.6% chance. In order to have a better than 50% chance of winning, the Democrat would need to lead by at least 1.3%.

Looking at this another way, for the Democrat to have a better than 95% chance of winning, they need to be leading by 7.1% or more. For the Republican to have a better than 95% chance of winning, they only have to lead by 3.8%.

Again, this is based on comparing the Final Election Graphs averages to actual election results from 2008 to 2020. There is a chance 2024 looks nothing like the last four elections. Polling may be better. Polling may be worse. Polling may underestimate the Democrats this time rather than underestimating the Republicans. We just don't know. So looking at the four cycles of data I have so far is the best I can do…

Anyway, that is the curve I will be using to make my "probabilistic" views for 2024. This will not impact the traditional "categorization" views at all. They will remain as they always have been, classifying any state with a margin less than 5% as a "weak" state that could go either way. No "unskewing" there.

But I will allow the probabilistic views to take into account that based on this historical data, the Democrats have to be further ahead to have an even shot, etc.

Also important to note, is that these are the odds on a PER STATE basis (and CD for ME and NE). You can't apply these numbers to national polls. It just doesn't work that way. For that, I'll once again be doing Monte Carlo simulations using the state poll averages and the odds on the chart above.

One thing none of the above takes into account though is trying to estimate how correlated errors are between states. If errors were just completely uncorrelated, then when you run your simulation, you just roll the dice for each state. Distributions end up a bit narrower. But if things are completely correlated, so that if one state underestimates the Republican, they all do, then you essentially roll once to see how far off ALL the states are, and you end up with a much wider distribution with higher odds for the tails.

The reality is somewhere in between. I haven't had a good method for modeling "somewhere in between". So in the 2020 cycle, after a brief time mentioning only the fully independent version (which was a mistake, for which I was indirectly called stupid by Nate Silver), I ended up just showing both extremes. This wasn't entirely satisfactory either though. But at the moment I don't have a better idea.

If you are a stats and modeling person who wants to help me properly model the right degree of correlation between errors here, please get in touch. I'd love to learn more and do better.

That applies to everything else in the analysis above as well. I am well aware I am doing a few things that may not be exactly the right way to do things. I don't think anything is outright "bad", but I recognize there may be better ways of accomplishing what I am trying to accomplish, and maybe I'm wrong and some things ARE just bad. If so, I'd love to hear about it and learn… as long as you can give me that feedback nicely and gently, rather than being mean about it. Thanks.

OK. I guess that is it for the "preliminary math stuff".

Next up is standing up the actual 2024 page with only the previous actual election data (no 2024 polls yet) to define a "starting point". And updating the FAQ and things like that.

I'll post again once that is done, and before I start feeding it actual state polls for 2024 (of which there have already been quite a few).

Knock Knock… Is this thing on?

Well well. I haven't posted here in a long long time. The last thing was an update to my November 3rd 2020 Live Election Graphs Results Updates post on January 7th 2021 with the final official electoral college results after the craziness of the January 6th United States Capitol attack.

I had intended to post some sort of detailed 2020 post mortem like I did for the 2016 cycle. This site did pretty well again, in the same ballpark as some of the big guys. Roughly. I didn't ever sit down and look through all that in detail. So that post never happened. Frankly I was tired and exhausted with the election stuff, and aside from a few very minor things I would occasionally pick up and look at, I immediately fell into the mode of letting Election Graphs lie dormant until it was time to start thinking about 2024.

Welp, we are now only 78 days until the mid-term election, which is traditionally the starting gun for the next Presidential election, and we have at least one candidate making noise that they intend to make their run official even before then. So I think it is probably time.

There is no Election 2024 content live on this site yet. I've generally tried to start updating the site in earnest right around the mid-terms, although sometimes it has ended up being a few months later.

I have a to do list which I am starting to work through though, so here are some of the highlights:

  1. This post waking up the site, and announcing the preparations for 2024 are under way.
  2. Finish up the calculations to use all four elections from 2008 to 2020 as the baseline "how well did Election Graphs averages do compared to the final results" data I use to try to generate odds from the polling averages and do a blog post about that.
  3. Stand up the basic Election 2024 national summary, state pages, national comparison, and state comparison pages using only the averages of the 2004 to 2020 election results as the "starting averages" and do a blog post about that.
  4. Get all the state level 2024 presidential polls that have already been done (yes, there are quite a lot of them) entered into my system and see where things are as of now and do a blog post on that.
  5. Start regularly scanning for new state level 2024 presidential polls and adding them as they are released and doing periodic blog posts when there are any interesting changes.
  6. Set up the delegate race part of the site as well, although there is still quite a long time until the first delegates get allocated.
  7. If I have time, start adding a couple of enhancements to a few of the graphs I have been thinking about, and maybe some new maps or charts that were not there for the 2020 cycle.

I don't want to hold up anything for that last one. I have a few ideas in my head, but nothing solid, the ideas may or may not work in real life, and time is at a premium, so I may or may not have time to do them anyway. But one thing at a time.

And the one thing right now is to post this, put my stake in the ground as to what I am doing next, and get to it…

Welcome to the start of Election 2024 coverage here on Election Graphs!