Back To The Normal Zone

As always, if you are impatient for one of these updates, the 2020 pages on Election Graphs are updated every day as new polls come in. Or you can follow @ElecCollPolls on Twitter to see all the polls as I add them. While you are at it, follow @ElectionGraphs too.

I'm trying to do these blog updates more often now that we are in the last two weeks. The last blog update here was on October 20th. Here are the high-level changes since that last post:

Model Metric 20 Oct 24 Oct 𝚫
Probabilities
(Indep States)
Trump 2σ
Median
Biden 2σ
Biden +32
Biden +140
Biden +254
Biden +52
Biden +162
Biden +266
Biden +20
Biden +22
Biden +12
Trump Win
Tie
Biden Win
0.3%
0.0%
99.7%
0.1%
0.0%
99.9%
-0.2%
FLAT
+0.2%
Probabilities
(Uniform Swing)
Trump 2σ
Median
Biden 2σ
Trump +52
Biden +164
Biden +294
Trump +52
Biden +144
Biden +294
FLAT
Trump +20
FLAT
Trump Win
Tie
Biden Win
23.3%
0.0%
76.7%
9.1%
0.0%
90.9%
-14.2%
FLAT
+14.2%
Categories Trump Best
Expected
Biden Best
Biden +40
Biden +164
Biden +294
Trump +12
Biden +220
Biden +294
Trump +52
Biden +56
FLAT
Tipping Point Biden +3.1% Biden +4.9% Biden +1.8%

Last time we talked a lot about how the big move in Trump's direction we saw then could very well just be a transient thing because there was a rush of Pennsylvania polls from small pollsters that were favorable to Trump, which might not be sustained once the bigger pollsters released new results for Pennsylvania.

That is exactly what happened. In the days since that blog post, there were quite a few additional polls released in Pennsylvania. Here is what Pennsylvania looks like now:

A brief foray into "Weak Biden", and then right back to "Strong Biden".

These results not only moved the tipping point back toward Biden, but they also knocked the top off the peak we saw last time, so instead of the tipping point getting down to a 3.1% Biden lead, now Biden's worst tipping point was only 3.6%.

The tipping point is now at Biden by 4.9%, right smack in the middle of that 4% to 6% range it has normally been in ever since mid-June.

Not only that, but the same is true of almost all of the main metrics. They are all in their "normal ranges".

Let's take a quick look:

The Tipping Point, the Independent States View, the Uniform Swing View, the Categorization View, and the odds generated from the two probabilistic views all show the race back in the "normal zone". (I didn't bother with showing the second odds chart since it is just a blue rectangle.)

So bottom line, a few days of bad polls in Pennsylvania moved things in Trump's direction. But with more polling, it doesn't seem like a "real" move representing a fundamental change.

Instead, it once again looks like this race has basically been frozen since June. The moves up and down we see are mostly just random results of which pollsters released results recently, and normal sampling errors and such. Very little, if any, real movement.

Roughly speaking, ever since June, this has looked like a race where Biden leads by between 4% and 6% in the tipping-point state, with a potential winning margin somewhere between 100 and 200 electoral votes.

We still have 11 days left of course. There is still a little bit of time left for that to change.

And also, there is still the possibility of a systematic polling error. Between our two probabilistic models based on how far off Election Graphs state averages were in 2008, 2012, and 2016, the Election Graphs estimate for Trump's odds of winning if the election was today currently stand at "somewhere between 0.1% and 9.1%".

Where in that range depends on how closely linked the results in the different states are, which we don't estimate. But everyone needs to continue to remember that 10%, or 5%, or even 1% aren't the same as 0%, and there are still paths to a win for Trump. This isn't over yet.

The map and the center of the spectrum of states look like this now:

To win, Trump needs to run the table and win every single close state, or pull in some not so close states.

Let's do the comparison to 2016 now:

In terms of the Electoral College in the categorization view, Biden has been in a better spot than Clinton since we hit 76 days out, most of the time being more than just a little bit ahead of her pace.

But Biden's tipping point has been comparable to where Clinton's was at the same point four years ago for the last few weeks. Biden has not been consistently ahead of Clinton on this metric.

As of this blog post, Biden is once again ahead of where Clinton was though. Eleven days out Biden is at 4.9%, Clinton was at 3.2%. And it was mostly downhill for Clinton after this point.

Clinton's final drop was precipitated by the Comey letter. So far nothing comparable has hit Biden, and as I write this, nearly 53 million votes have already been cast. So yes, something could still change, but time is running out fast.

OK. We didn't do it earlier in the post, so here is a quick look at the current graphs for all of the states and CDs where the Election Graphs margin is currently under 5%. I won't comment on all of them individually. Some of them have switched categories in the last few days, some have not. But all of these should be considered as active possibilities for both candidates at this point.

And that is it for today. More soon.

10.9 days until the first results start coming in on election night.

We are almost at the end!

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 for current interactive versions of the 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.

The Race Tightens? Or Not?

As always, if you are impatient for one of these updates, the 2020 pages on Election Graphs are updated every day as new polls come in. Or you can follow @ElecCollPolls on Twitter to see all the polls as I add them.

The last blog update here was 10 days ago on October 10th. Here are the high-level changes since that last post:

Model Metric 10 Oct 20 Oct 𝚫
Probabilities
(Indep States)
Trump 2σ
Median
Biden 2σ
Biden +78
Biden +174
Biden +276
Biden +32
Biden +140
Biden +254
Trump +42
Trump +34
Trump +22
Trump Win
Tie
Biden Win
0.0%
0.0%
100.0%
0.3%
0.0%
99.7%
+0.3%
FLAT
-0.3%
Probabilities
(Uniform Swing)
Trump 2σ
Median
Biden 2σ
Trump +12
Biden +176
Biden +326
Trump +52
Biden +164
Biden +294
Trump +40
Trump +12
Trump +32
Trump Win
Tie
Biden Win
5.2%
0.0%
94.8%
23.3%
0.0%
76.7%
+18.1%
FLAT
-18.1%
Categories Trump Best
Expected
Biden Best
Biden +20
Biden +212
Biden +288
Trump +40
Biden +164
Biden +294
Trump +60
Trump +48
Biden +6
Tipping Point Biden +6.2% Biden +3.1% Trump +3.1%

We'll hit the main story for this update before going through the cavalcade of all of the charts:

Last time we said "not too fast" to notions that Trump's numbers were collapsing. Instead, we suggested that Trump was just at the low end of the normal range we had been in since June, and it would be unsurprising to see some reversion to the mean.

And that is exactly what we have seen. Things have moved back toward Trump on almost all metrics we track. In fact, in the critical tipping point metric, we've moved out of the 4% to 6% Biden lead band that we have been in since June, as Biden falls to 3.1%.

In the three election cycles we have tracked this, the largest difference between the final tipping point and the actual tipping point in the election was not in 2016. It was in 2008. Nobody cared, because the actual results were a bigger Obama win than predicted by the polls, rather than having a different winner than the polls predicted. But in 2008 the final tipping point was off by 3.45%. That is a bigger error than the 3.1% that currently separates Biden's tipping point from a Trump win.

So we are in the zone where simple polling error could make the difference to who is leading, even without further "movement".

As a consequence, the chances of a Trump win in the Uniform Swing view (the most optimistic for him) have jumped up to 23.3%.

Wow. This is a big change.

Reader Jonathan T emailed to ask if I had any thoughts on the possible causes of this big change. So let's talk about that.

Rather than look for a specific "cause" though, it is worth discussing if this change is even "real".

The tipping point change is driven by one state. Pennsylvania.

As polls that were very favorable to Biden from early October drop off the average, they are being replaced by new polls that show a much narrower race.

Now, what are the actual polls currently in my Pennsylvania average?

Why do I bring up the specific pollsters? I never bring up the specific pollsters. I just throw them into the average.

Well, I bring it up because right now we have no big-name high-quality pollsters in the mix. In fact, we have Trafalgar, which is widely panned as intentionally constructing their polls to find "hidden" conservative voters, and therefore push results to the right, show up twice! And we have others that people have criticized as being lower quality for one reason or another.

538's Nate Silver tweeted this earlier today:

Folks, Biden's lead didn't shrink from 7.3 points to 3.6 points in PA in a week (as per RCP) at the same time it was steady or slightly growing nationally. This is why you need poll averages that take a longer time horizon and/or adjust for house effects.

RCP's averages are extremely subject to who happens to have polled the state recently, which is often the spammier, lower-quality pollsters, and that's been especially true recently with live-caller polls not having been terribly active in the states over the past 2 weeks.

I love many things about RCP, but if you have an average and 1/3 of it consists of Trafalgar and InsiderAdvantage and 0% of it consists of live-caller polls, it's not going to be a very reliable average.

He is talking about the RCP Pennsylvania average, not Election Graphs. We're too small for 538 to notice. But all of the same things are true for us.

Both Election Graphs and RCP are straight numerical averages without weighting for historical pollster quality or correcting for historical pollster bias. And we both decide which polls to include in ways that result in looking at narrower time windows as the election approaches.

These are valid criticisms. This may be a temporary transient spike caused by a series of polls from low-quality pollsters which will immediately move back in the other direction as soon as the bigger more respected pollsters put out some new numbers.

If I had to bet right now, I'd actually bet on that. We moved from the high end of Biden's range in PA to the low end of his range, and I would expect to see it revert back to the middle since we have been in a pretty steady range for months, and this seems to be an aberration, especially since there are no big news events, and as Nate Silver points out, we haven't seen a similar movement in the national polls.

But…

Let's do a quick look at where a bunch of websites ended up right before Election Day in 2016. This is from a post-mortem I did of the 2016 performance of Election Graphs. At the time I logged the following as the final electoral college predictions from a bunch of sites:

  • Clinton 323 Trump 215 (108 EV Clinton margin) – Daily Kos
  • Clinton 323 Trump 215 (108 EV Clinton margin) – Huffington Post
  • Clinton 323 Trump 215 (108 EV Clinton margin) – Roth
  • Clinton 323 Trump 215 (108 EV Clinton margin) – PollyVote
  • Clinton 322 Trump 216 (106 EV Clinton margin) – New York Times
  • Clinton 322 Trump 216 (106 EV Clinton margin) – Sabato
  • Clinton 307 Trump 231 (76 EV Clinton margin) – Princeton Election Consortium
  • Clinton 306 Trump 232 (74 EV Clinton margin) – Election Betting Odds
  • Clinton 302 Trump 235 (67 EV Clinton margin) – FiveThirtyEight
  • Clinton 276 Trump 262 (14 EV Clinton margin) – HorsesAss
  • Clinton 273 Trump 265 (8 EV Clinton margin) – Election Graphs
  • Clinton 272 Trump 266 (6 EV Clinton margin) – Real Clear Politics
  • Clinton 232 Trump 306 (74 EV Trump margin) – Actual "earned" result

Hmmm. Who got closest to the actual results? Election Graphs and RCP.

And specifically, WHY did that happen? My hypotheses are:

  1. We both were averaging based on very short time frames by the time we got to the election, allowing us to catch a last-minute move that was "smoothed out" from a lot of the other sites.
  2. We both included some of these low-quality pollsters, including Trafalgar, who started to show movement toward Trump that the other pollsters were not showing.

I could be wrong, I have not done an in depth analysis, but at first blush, those seem to be the common elements.

Now, as I said, I would still bet on reversion to the mean here, and that we will see Pennsylvania bounce back toward a greater than 5% Biden lead over the next week or so as new polls come in.

But in 2016, right before the end, I doubted the results of my own average because it was moving in a way that most of the big sites were not in that last week and because there were other sites specifically calling out Trafalgar and others as garbage noise that maybe should just be excluded from the averages because they were clearly biased and wrong. But it turned out those polls were closer to what actually happened than some of the others.

So we're not doing that this time. We throw in all the polls, and we see what happens, and yes, near the election we have a very short time frame, so what polls have been in the field lately does make a big difference. But we are where we are.

At the moment Election Graphs shows a significant tightening in Pennsylvania. And because Pennsylvania is the tipping-point state, and there is somewhat of a gap between the states that are closer than Pennsylvania and the states where Biden has a more solid lead, that means that as Pennsylvania moves, so does the national race, at least for the moment.

Don't be surprised if this moves back in the opposite direction tomorrow though. And don't be surprised if the high-quality polls confirm this movement and it stays tight either. I view that as less likely, but certainly not impossible. I'm not going to preemptively say to ignore this tightening as clearly not real though. In 2016, it was an indicator of actual tightening at the end of the race.

Or maybe Election Graphs and RCP were just lucky in 2016. That might also be the case. This is VERY POSSIBLE!

Anyway, that is the big story of the week.

But we still have to review the rest of the main charts! So here we go!

First up, states that moved in or out of our "Weak Biden" and "Weak Trump" categories:

OK, we already talked about Pennsylvania, but here it is again. It moved from Strong Biden to Weak Biden since the last update, and as the current tipping point state drives a lot of the national picture too. But we discussed all that, so… moving on…

Last time Ohio had moved into the blue zone by the thinnest of margins. Now it returns to "Weak Trump" where it has usually been. Either way though, Ohio is extremely close.

Since last time, Georgia popped over to the Trump side of the centerline, but it didn't last long, and Georgia is back to being just barely blue. Just like Ohio though, the truth is that Georgia is extremely close and could easily go either way.

Since the last update, there has been significant weakening in Wisconsin, with it just barely moving into the "Weak Biden" category with the last poll. But if you look at the specific polls in the Wisconsin average, you see EXACTLY the same sort of issues we discussed with Pennsylvania.

If the tightening in Pennsylvania turns out to be a mirage based on having a bunch of low-quality pollsters releasing results recently, then most likely it will also be a mirage in Wisconsin. If Pennsylvania turns out to be real on the other hand, then Wisconsin probably will be too. (Thus showing why assuming completely independent states is not realistic, and we need to balance that by also showing uniform swing.)

But like Pennsylvania, if I had to bet right now, I'd say that Wisconsin has been in a 4% to 8% range for most of the last few months, and we are just at the low end of that range for Biden right now, and we'll probably revert back to the middle of that range with a few more polls.

But we won't really know until we indeed get a few more polls.

Like Ohio, last time Iowa had popped over to the blue side of the line, but this time it reverts to being just barely on the red side like it usually has been. But like Ohio and Georgia, the bottom line is Iowa is too close to call.

And finally, Trump's lead drops below 5% in Alaska, bringing it into range as a possible pickup in a Biden landslide scenario.

OK, now the rest of the close electoral votes we haven't already discussed, without additional commentary:

OK. With those out of the way, let's look at our three "envelopes" with the ranges of possibility in the categorization view, and the two extreme probabilistic views:

Unlike the tipping point, where it looks like a breakout from the normal "since June" range, all three of these views show us basically consistent with where this race has been since July.

In all three cases, Trump's high end does look a bit better than it did a few weeks ago and is near the high end of Trump's range.  And in all three the centerline is closer to the worst of Biden's range. But none of these are breaking out from the normal range.

Right now that "breakout" is only showing up in the tipping point. Which means that while the range of possible options is about the same, it is more precarious, because Biden's lead in the tipping point state is a lot less than it had been.

Subject again to all the caveats we discussed earlier in the post of course. I won't repeat them here.

Bottom line, carefully watch the next polls in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina… the three states currently closest to the tipping point… to see if the tipping point reverses itself right away, or if it starts to look like the new closer tipping point might be real and sustained.

In the meantime, here is the current spectrum of states where the margin in the averages are under 10%:

The RCP average of national polls currently shows an 8.6% Biden lead. Comparing to the 3.1% tipping point, this implies that the structure of the electoral college is currently giving Trump a 5.5% head start… if this tipping point holds up. This "head start" is up from 3.4% in the last update.

The increase in this head start is due to the margin in the tipping point of Pennsylvania dropping considerably while the national margin, while it has tightened a bit, does not show the same kind of movement. Which again, is one reason to suspect maybe the Pennsylvania movement will prove to be an illusion. More polls will resolve that question soon enough.

Finally, time for the 2016 comparison:

In the expected case, where each candidate wins every state where they lead the average, Biden continues to outperform Clinton at the same point in time four years ago, although not by as much as he was a month ago, and there was a short moment where he moved above her curve. But for the most part, Biden has been outpacing Clinton on this metric.

Meanwhile, the same can't be said at the moment for the tipping point.

While the general trend of Clinton weakening started at about the 30-day point, at about this moment, two weeks out, Clinton had a bunch of good polling and had one final peak before her final collapse. Meanwhile, as we have discussed, Biden's tipping point is now the smallest it has been since June 10th.

If this is just an aberration, and it gets reversed or erased by new high-quality polls that come out in the next few days, then the picture will be back to what it has been for months. Namely, Biden is heavily favored, but a Trump win is not impossible.

If however new polls sustain this change, then it would indicate that Trump's chances of winning have increased substantially, and there is a real race happening in these last two weeks.

Watch the next few days of polling, and we should know which scenario we are in.

Right now, with our current averages, and the two extreme probabilistic scenarios, Election Graphs gives Trump's odds of winning as somewhere between 0.3% and 23.3% depending on how correlated the polling errors in each state end up being.

That's a big range of course, and that is "if the election was today" when we have two weeks left. But at the very least, it means to take the chances of a Trump comeback and win seriously.

We shall see.

Finally, the map as it stands right now:

I locked the poll updates on Monday evening US time to make this update. As I finish writing the post it is now Tuesday afternoon. As usual for this point in the cycle, there have already been a bunch of new polls released during that time. So I'll be getting back to data entry shortly.

I've taken the remaining time from now until the election off from the day job to better be able to keep up with the deluge of new polls. That also probably means you'll get more than just one update here on the blog before election day.

So keep checking in for updates, both here on the blog and on the main 2020 Electoral College page.

But first, the usual closing with the countdown:

14.1 days until the first results start coming in for Election 2020.

We are in the home stretch. Almost there now!

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 for current interactive versions of the 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.

Trump Collapse? Or Not?

As always, if you are impatient for one of these updates, the 2020 pages on Election Graphs are updated every day as new polls come in. Or you can follow @ElecCollPolls on Twitter to see all the polls as I add them.

The last blog update here was 11 days ago on September 29th. Here are the high-level changes since that last post:

Model Metric 29 Sep 10 Oct 𝚫
Probabilities
(Indep States)
Trump 2σ
Median
Biden 2σ
Biden +46
Biden +144
Biden +256
Biden +78
Biden +174
Biden +276
Biden +32
Biden +30
Biden +20
Trump Win
Tie
Biden Win
0.1%
0.0%
99.9%
0.0%
0.0%
100.0%
-0.1%
FLAT
+0.1%
Probabilities
(Uniform Swing)
Trump 2σ
Median
Biden 2σ
Trump +84
Biden +168
Biden +312
Trump +12
Biden +176
Biden +326
Biden +72
Biden +8
Biden +14
Trump Win
Tie
Biden Win
7.5%
0.0%
92.5%
5.2%
0.0%
94.8%
-2.3%
FLAT
+2.3%
Categories Trump Best
Expected
Biden Best
Biden +8
Biden +168
Biden +294
Biden +20
Biden +212
Biden +288
Biden +12
Biden +44
Trump +6
Tipping Point Biden +5.4% Biden +6.2% Biden +0.8%

To summarize before we get to review all the current graphs:

These 11 days have been very good for Biden in the polling. He hasn't moved past his all-time best marks, but he is once again near the top of the range we have observed over the last year. The flip side of course is that Trump is near the bottom of his range.

The key metrics right now show that if the election was today (it is not) Trump's chance of winning is no more than 5.2%, probably less, and Biden's tipping point is up to a 6.2% lead, which is the best it has been since mid-August, and which is better than Clinton saw any time in the last 100 days before the 2016 election.

But I wouldn't call this a Trump collapse quite yet. He has returned to the low end of the range we have been seeing for months. We are not breaking new ground, seeing things worse for Trump than we have ever seen. At least not yet.

From here it is quite possible that we get a reversion to the mean, with Trump improving a bit, rather than seeing further Trump deterioration. Does it look bad for Trump? Yes. Certainly. But not in an unprecedented way, and he could still make up ground before the end.

OK, now for the parade of graphs…

As usual, we'll look at the critical states, then the nationwide electoral college trend charts, the win odds graphs, the spectrum of states, then finally close it up with the comparison to 2016 and a map. Here we go.

This time there were 9 states that moved in or out of the "Weak Biden" or "Weak Trump" categories since the last blog post:

Biden's lead in Florida very briefly popped over 5% into the "Strong Biden" zone, but then dropped back down again into "Weak Biden". So no net change to the category. Biden remains strong in Florida, but not so strong that it is completely out of Trump's reach.

Biden's current 4.2% lead maps to an 84.9% chance of winning the state given the previous accuracy of Election Graphs averages.

Ohio is pretty much as close to a tie as possible. Since the last update, it moved briefly from the Biden side to the Trump side, and then back again. No net change.

Because of the order of the polls, the brief trip across the line isn't visible on the chart anymore, but it did happen. Either way though, Ohio is too close to call.

Looking at the specific margin, Ohio is actually in an oddball zone. Biden leads by 0.1% at the moment, but our win odds are based on the results in 2008 through 2016, and looking at those years, a Democratic lead this small actually means the Republican is still slightly favored. We currently have Trump at a 53.2% chance of winning Ohio based on this poll average.

At the time of the last blog post, Georgia had moved to be just barely "Weak Trump". It is now "Weak Biden" again, where it has been most of the time since July. Biden now leads by 2.0% in the average, which we have as a 67.9% chance of winning.

Only one is left visible on the graph, but since last time Michigan went from Stong Biden to Weak Biden, then Strong then Weak, then finally Strong again before Biden's lead increased up to 8.6% as we write this, firmly within the Strong Biden zone. This corresponds to a 99.1% chance of a Biden win. If nothing changes before election day of course.

Wisconsin is another back and forth with no net category change. It dipped into "Weak Biden", then moved back into "Strong Biden" where it has been most of the time since July. Biden currently has a 6.2% lead, or about a 94.8% chance of winning.

Since the last update, Trump's lead in South Carolina very briefly dipped below 5%, then went back up again. Once again, this is a chance that was actually erased by subsequent polls. Right now, Trump leads by 5.3%, which means about a 97.3% chance of winning.

Biden's lead in Nevada grows to 5.3% or a 91.7% win chance, pulling it out of the "Weak Biden" zone.

For the second time in the last few months, Iowa slips to the blue side of the line. Barely. The poll average has Biden at a 0.4% lead, which would be a 50.8% chance of winning the state. This is clearly a toss-up, but also given the history, it would not be surprising at all to see Iowa slip back into the red with the next polls that come in. The "usual" situation for Iowa seems to be just barely Trump, and it is way too early to make any determination that there has been a lasting change.

Last time we had Montana move into the "Weak Trump" category. A series of poll updates covering older time periods, including a correction to one outlier data point, completely erased that change. And by the time of this post, Trump's lead was actually up to 10.1%, putting the state not just into "Strong Trump" but all the way into "Solid Trump". Trump's chance of winning the state is now 99.9%.

So yeah, the Democrats probably won't be flipping Montana this time around.

Beyond the states that changed categories, here are the rest of the states that are currently in the "Weak" categories, but did not shift their classifications at all this time around. With no additional commentary.

With all the state views out of the way, time for the three different models for the range of electoral college possibilities.

The centerline of this chart is at a 212 EV Biden win, the best it has been since mid-September, but overall, this shows the steadiness of the race. The ups and downs we are seeing are a small handful of very close states going back and forth across the zero line as the polls jitter.

Looking at the best cases… where one candidate or the other wins ALL of the close states… Biden's best-case very rarely moves at all. Trump's best-case moves a lot more. This is a factor of there being a lot more states close to a 5% Biden lead than there are states close to a 5% Trump lead. But even there, the Best cases have just bounced in a range since July. There is no clear trend.

Next up, the probabilistic view using "uniform swing" where we force all of the states to move up and down together. This gives both the maximum chances of an upset and the maximum chances of the current leader getting a landslide.

And we see the same thing. Yes, improvement for Biden lately, but well within what has been the normal range of possibilities lately.

The only place where you can claim a breakout is the top of Trump's 2σ (95.45%) range, which is down to a 12 EV Trump win. That is indeed the worst we have seen for Trump on that line in this election cycle.

This range does still include Trump winning, but barely. This version of the model currently gives Trump a 5.2% chance of winning.

And then the "Independent States" view. This does a simulation assuming what happens in each state is completely independant of what happens in all the others. So if the polls underestimate Trump's support in Ohio, it means nothing to what may happen in Pennsylvania, etc. This results in the tightest range of possible results.

On this view as well, Trump has declined the last few weeks, but we aren't breaking new ground.

We are however in the territory where even the 3σ (99.73%) range does not include the possibility of Trump winning. In fact, the standard display on the 2020 Electoral College page now rounds Biden's win odds to 100%. Looking at the unrounded simulation results, we actually have 99.996% Biden wins, 0.0027% Trump wins, and 0.0013% ties.

Both the "Uniform Swing" and "Independent States" represent the extremes of how correlated or not state results are to each other. The truth is somewhere in between, but where in between is not predicted by these models.

So the Election Graphs statement on odds right now is simply that Trump's odds of winning are between 0.0027% and 5.2%.

So let's look at the odds charts.

So, uh, yeah. We probably won't show this one much unless Trump starts spiking and there is something to see. In the Independent States view, Trump has been so close to zero for so long that you can't even see any red on this chart.

On uniform swing, there is at least something to see. But again, we are bouncing around in a well-trod range. We're currently at a 5.2% Trump win probability in this view. The range on this chart (currently showing the race since July 12th) is from a 4.6% to a 16.9% chance of a Trump win.

Now, to be clear, there is a big difference between a 4.6% chance of winning and a 16.9% chance of winning.  But that seems to be the range we have been living in for Trump's maximum odds of winning. We are still in that range, although near the low end.

And now the tipping point. This represents how much the national popular vote would need to move… assuming a uniform swing of states… in order to flip the overall result. Once again, we see us near Biden's best, but not quite setting records. Right now the 6.2% is the best Biden has seen since August 11th. But he was close to this level as recently as September 19th.

Unless there is a breakout, this is once again a picture of a steady race. Yes, Biden is near the top of his range, but basically, things have been flat for months. There is no overarching trend.

And there is the center of our spectrum of states. There are a LOT of close states right now. Trump winning all of them isn't enough. He has to also pull in Nevada and Wisconsin. Or some of the states where he is behind by even more.

The RCP average of national polls currently shows a 9.6% Biden lead. Comparing to the 6.2% tipping point, this implies that the structure of the electoral college is currently giving Trump a 3.4% head start. This is up from 0.7% in the last update.

The increase in this delta since last time would indicate that a lot of Biden's gain in the national popular vote is coming from states that don't matter. Biden winning by a bit more in New York, or losing by a bit less in West Virginia is simply irrelevant given how we actually choose presidents.

Finally, let's do the 2016 comparison.

Reader Ali D recently asked in the post comments if I could do 2016 comparisons based on the probabilistic views in addition to what I have been doing here. He wasn't sure the expected case was a good comparison since it could change so much based on close states crossing the centerline.

The short answer is no. The probabilistic views are all new for 2020, so I have no 2016 line to compare to. Sorry!

Going into more detail, the estimates of how close to reality the poll averages end up that drive the probabilistic analysis are based on looking at the 2008 through 2016 results, so even though I once did it as a one-off, applying that analysis to 2016 would not be valid since you are essentially using the 2016 results to predict 2016.

It theoretically would be possible for me to generate separate state win odds using only 2008 and 2012 data using the same method I used, then retroactively generate a full probabilistic trend for 2016, but even doing this with only 3 election cycles of data seemed a little iffy, doing it with two really would be. Plus, realistically, I'm not going to have time to do anything like that before election day.

So once again, sorry!

Ali D is also correct that JUST looking at the expected case doesn't give you a good sense of how close things really are since you don't know if the states making up the winning margin have the winner ahead by 0.1% or by 1% or by 10%.

This is why we look at BOTH the Expected Case and the Tipping Point to understand the comparison…  I guess we could expand this to also compare the best cases for both candidates, but things are already complicated enough… so we'll stick to just these two.

Here we go…

In the expected case, Biden has been doing better than Clinton ever since we hit the 76 day out mark. We are now past Clinton's last surge, and into the part of the race where her lead had started to slip.

So far, Biden's lead is not slipping. It is increasing.

But let's look at the tipping point comparison:

In this metric, between 37 and 29 days out, when Clinton was at a high point and Biden was at the low end of his range, Biden was actually doing worse than Clinton was at the same point. But that Clinton peak is over, Biden is gaining, and so Biden once again is stronger than Clinton was at this point.

We certainly can't say it is impossible for this picture to change before the election. But for Trump to actually be FAVORED to win, Biden needs to start collapsing soon, and he needs a bigger and faster collapse than Clinton suffered in 2016.

Unlike Clinton, who regularly fell to levels where the race was tight and she was favored but Trump clearly had a very good shot, Biden has been consistently strong all the way along. So to let Trump take the lead, he would have to do significantly worse than we have ever seen, not just a little bit worse.

Or course Trump doesn't have to be favored in order to win. With existing polling, the Uniform Swing view gives Trump a 5.2% chance of an upset. And 5.2% is NOT ZERO.

Embedding the most recent XKCD because it is directly relevant:

XKCD Prediction

Of course Election Graphs is actually saying that the chances of a Trump win are LESS than 5.2% if the election was today. Even so, it is STILL NOT ZERO.

Plus there is still time for things to change. Over 9 million people have already voted. Voting is well underway. But as I write this we have a little over three weeks until the the end of voting and most people haven't voted yet. While it seems increasingly likely that it will be hard for Trump to actually get to a position where he is the favorite on election day, he may very well improve his odds in that time.

There still could be an October Surprise that makes a difference!

We shall see.

Finally, the map as it stands right now:

Everything above represents the situation as of when I started writing this blog post. Looks like at least two new polls have been published while I have been writing. So time to close this out and start updating the site again…

But first, the usual closing with the countdown:

24.1 days until the first results start coming in for Election 2020.

Tune in for the inevitable ups and downs that happen in those days…

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 for current interactive versions of the 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.