Mixed Results

Since the last blog post on January 6th, there have been new state-level polls in New Mexico, Iowa, Arizona, Michigan (x2), Georgia, Nevada, Wisconsin (x2), Connecticut, Florida, and West Virginia.

These polls have, in general, shown mixed results. Some move toward Trump, some step toward the Democrats. For some, it depends which Democrat you are watching.

Add everything in from all the states, and you end up with a pretty neutral update on the probabilistic view, with no massive moves, and the changes we do have going in different directions.

Let's look first at the median margins in the Monte Carlo simulations:

Dem 6 Jan 19 Jan 𝚫
Biden +132 +126 -6
Sanders +46 +48 +2
Warren +2 +4 +2
Buttigieg -48 -50 -2

Two Democrats improve against Trump, two diminish. But none of these move very much from where they were.

It is worth noting that between the last update and this one, Warren vs. Trump did briefly flip to the median being a six electoral vote Trump win. But then that reversed and ended up with Warren being slightly better off than she was.

When you look at the four curves, it seems POSSIBLE that we have hit an inflection point. After several months of the curves moving towards Trump, have we now changed direction?

I would urge caution on that interpretation. It is premature. Notice that there was a similar "bump" back toward the Democrats in November. But it was short-lived, and the longer-term trend continued.

So, on the whole, no big moves this update.

Now in terms of win odds:

Dem 6 Jan 19 Jan 𝚫
Biden 99.5% 99.2% -0.3%
Sanders 78.0% 79.9% +1.9%
Warren 50.8% 52.4% +1.6%
Buttigieg 14.4% 14.2% -0.2%

Between these updates, Biden had briefly dropped below 99%. But he rebounded up to 99.2%. Not quite the 99.9%+ he had back in September, but still very strong.

Sanders and Warren both improve a little bit here, with Sanders continuing to be weaker than Biden, but much stronger than Warren, who is barely better than a coin toss.

And Buttigieg, well, at the moment he continues to look like cannon fodder for Trump if that was the matchup.

Looking at the older categorization view, in terms of straight-up changes to the categories I put states in, four changes were good for the Democrats, and three changes were good for Trump.

Moves toward the Democrats:

  • Sanders: New Mexico moved from Strong Sanders to Solid Sanders
  • Warren: Iowa moved from Strong Trump to Weak Trump
  • Warren: Michigan moved from Weak Trump to Weak Warren
  • Buttigieg: Arizona moved from Strong Trump to Weak Trump

Moves toward Trump:

  • Sanders: Georgia moved from Weak Sanders to Weak Trump
  • Biden: Michigan moved from Strong Biden to Weak Biden
  • Buttigieg: Iowa moved from Weak Buttigieg to Weak Trump

With the categorization view, we're simplifying and only say how the electoral college would look if every candidate won every state where they lead the average, rather than noting how often close states could flip to the underdog. But with that view, things look like this:

Dem 6 Jan 19 Jan 𝚫
Biden +178 +178 Flat
Sanders +58 +26 -32
Warren -44 -12 +30
Buttigieg -60 -84 -24

The changes here are more significant than in the probabilistic view because when a state goes from just barely one side, to just slightly on the other, it makes a huge and immediate difference.

Here only Warren actually improves from where we were at the last update, but she still loses to Trump.

Then the tipping points:

Dem 6 Jan 19 Jan 𝚫
Biden +4.3% +3.0% -1.3%
Sanders +1.0% +0.1% -0.9%
Warren -0.5% -0.5% Flat
Buttigieg -1.8% -1.6% +0.2%

On this view, only Buttigieg improves, and just barely. Because while another state flipped to Trump, the margin in the state needed to flip the balance back to him is less than it was before.

Each of these views shows a different way of looking at the race. If I had to pick one at the moment, I'd choose the probabilistic win odds, because it best incorporates all of the various factors at play. But all of them still show something worth tracking.

Now, a quick review of trends in each of the swing states with updates this time around. (I'll skip the states that are not really in contention.)

There is no real clear direction to the movement in Florida. The last updates have been good for the Dems, but all four of these candidates are neck and neck with Trump in Florida. Florida can't get enough of being a state living right on the knife's edge.

Georgia has been very sparsely polled.

The first few polls showed it moving much further in the Democratic direction than the historical average. The latest results inch back toward the red. But Georgia is a state to keep a careful eye on. At the moment, it is clearly in contention.

The historical average in Michigan has been pretty blue, but the most recent polls have shown that 2016 (a narrow 0.2% Republican win) may not have been an aberration. All four of these candidates are showing close races at the moment, with Buttigieg losing to Trump, and the other Democrats holding on to narrow leads.

The trends since the summer have been toward the Republicans, but the most recent polls have gone the other way, so the next releases will be critical to watch, as we will see if the state starts moving back to the blue, or stays in swing-state territory.

Arizona is almost the opposite of Michigan. A historically red state, where the early polls pulled things into the disputed zone, but some of the more recent results have started to move the averages back, at least for Sanders and Biden. This is another state to watch very carefully.

Wisconsin started out with a historical average of Weak Democrat. 2020 polls have shifted this to Weak Trump for all four of these Democrats. The most recent polls make it look like this movement may have plateaued, but it is too early to tell.

Iowa's historical average was Weak Democrat, now it looks like Weak Trump, but it is still close enough to be in contention.

And Nevada. Warren and Buttigieg are just barely losing to Trump. Sanders and Biden are winning by a bit larger margin, but still close.

That's it for the state by state updates this time.

Finally, I have one more thing to highlight before closing.

As I write this, there are just over two weeks until the Iowa caucuses, which are traditionally the start of the delegate race for both parties. I was planning on opening up the 2020 Delegate Race part of Election Graphs with the Iowa caucuses. But surprise surprise, as I was cleaning things up there and getting it ready for launch, I discovered that some delegates are already in motion.

No, it isn't superdelegates on the Democratic side. Due to rule changes this time around, they can't vote on the first ballot unless they mathematically can't make any difference to the outcome, so we aren't tracking them this time.

It is on the Republican side.

It turns out that on December 11th, the Hawaii Republican Party voted on delegate selection rules that just went ahead and bound their 19 delegates to Trump, bypassing any possible primaries or caucuses.

Other states have said they will do this, but Hawaii is the first state to make it official.

So Trump already has 19 of the 1277 delegates he needs to win the Republican convention.

Now, nobody expects any of the Republicans who are running against Trump to get much of anywhere. It currently seems unlikely they will even get any delegates at all.

So the graphs on the Republican side are likely to be very dull, and I probably usually won't even bother to show or mention them in these blog updates. But since this is the very first delegate update, here you go:

So out of 2552 Republican delegates, 19 have already been allocated. That is 0.74% of the delegates. Given that all 19 went to Trump, that means Trump needs 49.66% of the remaining delegates to clinch the nomination.

The next expected delegate allocation is actually also before Iowa. The Kansas Republicans will decide how to allocate their delegates at their convention which runs from January 31st to February 1st. I'm sure their choice will be a huge surprise to everyone.

And with that, the 2020 Delegate Race page is open for business!

288.8 days until polls start to close.

For more information:

This post is an update based on the data on the Election Graphs Electoral College 2020 page. Election Graphs tracks a poll-based estimate of the Electoral College. The charts, graphs, and maps in the post above are all as of the time of this post. Click through on any image to go to a page with the current interactive versions of that chart, along with additional details.

Follow @ElectionGraphs on Twitter or Election Graphs on Facebook to see announcements of updates. For those interested in individual poll updates, follow @ElecCollPolls on Twitter for all the polls as I add them. If you find the information in these posts informative or useful, please consider visiting the donation page.

More Weakening for Democrats

Since the last blog post on December 22nd, there have been two new state-level polls released: one Mason-Dixon poll in Florida and one Mason-Dixon poll in Virginia. Each of these pitted Sanders, Biden, Warren, and Buttigieg against Trump.

From the categorization view, we had the following changes:

Warren vs Trump:

  • State category change: FL has moved from Weak Warren to Weak Trump
  • State category change: VA has moved from Strong Warren to Weak Warren
  • Expected case change: Warren 276 to Trump 262 -> Warren 247 to Trump 291
  • Trump best case vs. Warren has changed: Warren 213 to Trump 325 -> Warren 200 to Trump 338
  • Tipping point change: Warren by 0.6% in FL -> Trump by 0.5% in NC

With this, the "envelope" for Warren vs Trump looks like this:

This shows the full swing between all the states with margins under 5% going one way, and all of them going the other way. With Florida flipping back to a 2.0% Trump lead, Warren once again loses the Electoral College if every state is won by the current poll average leader.

The tipping point moves similarly:

Both of these views show Warren struggling over the past few months to stay ahead of Trump.

When we determine who is winning the Electoral College simply by seeing who leads the poll averages in each state, Warren has sometimes been ahead but has also been behind. The tipping point has been less than 1% for almost a year… since we started getting polls really… so one way or another, Warren vs Trump looks like a close race.

Buttigieg vs Trump:

  • State category change: VA has moved from Weak Trump to Weak Buttigieg
  • Expected case change: Buttigieg 226 to Trump 312 -> Buttigieg 239 to Trump 299
  • Tipping point change: Trump by 1.3% in MI -> Trump by 1.8% in FL

There has been much less polling on Buttigieg vs Trump. This last polling actually moves Virginia in Buttigieg's direction, but that is only because this is the very first Buttigieg poll in Virginia, so it bumps the 8.0% Republican win in 2000 out of the average. The newest poll still had Trump ahead by 2.0%, but because it was less of lead than Bush's win in 2000, it moved the average toward Buttigieg,

But the Florida poll moved the average in that state the other way and the tipping point moves further toward Trump.

None of the categorization based metrics changed for the other candidates, but let's look where things stand right now with everybody before we move on to the probabilistic view.

Dem 22 Dec 6 Jan 𝚫
Biden +178 +178 Flat
Sanders +58 +58 Flat
Warren +14 -44 -58
Buttigieg -86 -60 +26

So in the Expected Case, Biden still way ahead, Sanders ahead but not by as much, and we now have both Warren and Buttigieg losing.

Dem 22 Dec 6 Jan 𝚫
Biden +4.3% +4.3% Flat
Sanders +1.0% +1.0% Flat
Warren +0.6% -0.5% -1.1%
Buttigieg -1.3% -1.8% -0.5%

In the tipping point view, you can see a bit more clearly how much better Biden is doing than the rest.

However, to be clear, this is still not a secure lead. One month before the 2016 election, Clinton had a 6.0% tipping point lead. Over the course of the last month, this kept slipping, and the actual tipping point in the final election results was Trump by 0.8%. So with the right set of events, the tipping point can move 7% in a month.

We have a long way to go.

Having said that, the categorization view does simplify things. While the poll averages for Biden and Sanders did not change categories, they did move. So let's look at the state averages, and then the probabilistic views:

Biden is now the only Democrat who still has a lead in the Florida poll average. But the bottom line is that whatever Democrat you look at, Florida is close. The range for the four Democrats still in the race goes from a 1.4% lead for Biden to a 2.0% deficit for Warren. Florida is simply too close to call no matter how you slice it.

Once again, in Virginia Biden is doing much better than the other Democrats against Trump. In Virginia Biden is ahead by 9.6%. The other three Democrats who are still in the race all lead, but none by more than 4%.

OK, now for the results of the national probabilistic simulations:

Dem 22 Dec 6 Jan 𝚫
Biden +126 +132 +6
Sanders +54 +46 -8
Warren +22 +2 -20
Buttigieg -44 -48 -4

The median case only improves for Biden. For every other Democrat, the situation deteriorates, with Warren taking the biggest hit.

One thing to point out is that while Warren loses by 44 electoral votes in the categorization view, looking at the probabilistic simulation, the median case has Warren eking out a 2 electoral vote win.

Why the difference? Because Warren's spectrum of states looks like this:

If everybody wins the states they lead, Warren loses by 44. So she needs to flip 22 electoral votes for a 269-269 tie, and any more than that gets her a win.

There are 121 electoral votes worth of states where Trump leads by 3% or less. Meanwhile, there are only 24 electoral votes worth of states where Warren leads by less than 3%.

To pull off a win, Warren needs to hold Pennsylvania and New Hampshire, but then out of the eight states where Trump has a narrow lead, she only has to get lucky in Florida, or any number of combinations of two states, in order to pull things back over to her side. Given how many states are very close, and how few are close on the other side, it is actually still pretty likely that one of those things would happen.

So how likely?

Dem 22 Dec 6 Jan 𝚫
Biden 99.4% 99.5% +0.1%
Sanders 82.6% 78.0% -4.6%
Warren 66.1% 50.8% -15.3%
Buttigieg 16.5% 14.4% -2.1%

Warren's odds of winning with that distribution of states is 50.8%. Warren vs. Trump is sitting about as close to a coin toss as we could expect to see.

The odds of a 269-269 tie are also at 1.7%, which is higher than for any of the other three active Democrats here.

Looking at the others, Biden remains at 99%+ with Sanders a bit behind that around 80%, and Buttigieg very very far behind, with only about a 14% chance of pulling out a win.

Of course, that is about the same odds folks gave Trump in 2016.

So that is where we are.

302.1 days until polls start to close.

For more information:

This post is an update based on the data on the Election Graphs Electoral College 2020 page. Election Graphs tracks a poll-based estimate of the Electoral College. The charts, graphs, and maps in the post above are all as of the time of this post. Click through on any image to go to a page with the current interactive versions of that chart, along with additional details.

Follow @ElectionGraphs on Twitter or Election Graphs on Facebook to see announcements of updates. For those interested in individual poll updates, follow @ElecCollPolls on Twitter for all the polls as I add them. If you find the information in these posts informative or useful, please consider visiting the donation page.