162 Days Out: As Summer Starts

It has been about 65 days since my last post about the general election. Oops. I've been intending to put these out more often as the election approaches, but haven't quite managed that.

In any case, the last post was shortly after both candidates clinched their nominations and Biden had a widely praised State of the Union speech.

Almost immediately after that  blog post, Biden had a run of really good polls, and things started moving in his direction. Then Trump had a run of good polls, and things started moving back again. Then more recently, Biden had another good run with things moving back toward him.

In other words, lots of ups and downs. And to be honest, it is unclear how much of that is driven by ACTUAL movement in people's voting intention, vs how much is just noise in the polls, including a handful of prominent outliers that moved some critical state averages around.

If you look at the net change since that last post though, most metrics have moved toward Biden, although Trump is still leading, and is still significantly outpacing his polling performance in both 2016 and 2020.

If you just wanted a high level summary of where things are, you can stop now. The rest is going to be digging into more specifics.

Here we go.

This is the overall summary. Keep in mind, everything here is based on CURRENT poll averages as of May 27th. It is essentially "If the election was today" or alternatively "if nothing changes between now and Election Day". But we know things will change.

I've started some work on adding probabilistic models that take into account the amount of time left before the election, but I've got a lot of work left before those are ready to share any results. In the meantime, just always keep in mind, that things can change dramatically in a few weeks, let alone a few months. Campaigns matter, and news events change opinions.

Having said that, if the election was today, Trump would be strongly favored. Biden would have to be hoping for the polls to be significantly underestimating the Democrat this time, rather than underestimating the Republican as has been the case the last two cycles.

As of now, the map looks like this.

Since last time only one state has crossed the center line. That would be Wisconsin moving from Weak Trump to Weak Biden.

But as we have done the last few updates, lets look at how all of the even remotely close states (any with margins under 10%) have moved since last time.

Here is where things were on March 23rd:

And here they are as of May 28th:

So lets check out all the deltas:

Net movement toward Trump:

  • Washington (12 EV): Biden by 13.7% -> Biden by 9.3% (Trump+4.4%)
  • New Hampshire (4 EV): Biden by 7.6% -> Biden by 3.5% (Trump+4.1%)
  • Texas (40 EV): Trump by 7.3% -> Trump by 10.0% (Trump+2.7%)
  • New Mexico (5 EV): Biden by 9.3% -> Biden by 6.7% (Trump+2.6%)
  • Maine-All (2 EV): Biden by 5.7% -> Biden by 3.5% (Trump+2.2%)
  • Virginia (13 EV): Biden by 4.5% -> Biden by 2.6% (Trump+1.9%)
  • Alaska (3 EV): Trump by 9.4% -> Trump by 11.2% (Trump+1.8%)
  • Minnesota (10 EV): Biden by 3.9% -> Biden by 2.3% (Trump+1.6%)
  • Nevada (6 EV): Trump by 5.2% -> Trump by 6.3% (Trump+1.1%)
  • Florida (30 EV): Trump by 8.7% -> Trump by 9.1% (Trump+0.4%)

No net movement:

  • Georgia (16 EV): Trump by 5.3%
  • Maine-CD2 (1 EV): Trump by 8.6%

Net movement toward Biden:

  • Colorado (10 EV): Biden by 6.6% -> Biden by 6.8% (Biden+0.2%)
  • Pennsylvania (19 EV): Trump by 2.6% -> Trump by 1.7% (Biden +0.9%)
  • Arizona (11 EV): Trump by 5.0% -> Trump by 3.7% (Biden+1.3%)
  • Iowa (6 EV): Trump by 11.1% -> Trump by 9.5% (Biden+1.6%)
  • North Carolina (16 EV): Trump by 7.2% -> Trump by 4.7% (Biden+2.5%)
  • Michigan (15 EV): Trump by 4.5% -> Trump by 1.1% (Biden+3.4%)
  • Wisconsin (10 EV): Trump by 3.0% -> Biden by 0.7% (Biden+3.7%)
  • Nebraska-CD2 (1 EV): Trump by 4.7% -> Trump by 0.9% (Biden+3.8%)

Now, more of these actually moved toward Trump than toward Biden, so why do I say that overall things have been good for Biden since the last update?

Well, it is because of WHICH states moved toward Biden. Specifically, the key battleground states of Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania have all moved in Biden's direction, as well as Nebraska-CD2 (which would be key in some scenarios).  Arizona and North Carolina also potentially make a big difference if Biden can actually make them competitive.

It is not great for Biden that New Hampshire, Virginia, and Minnesota are as close as they are. He needs to win those. But pretty much all Biden winning scenarios require keeping Wisconsin on his side of the line now that he has it back there, and pulling Michigan and Pennsylvania over as well.

So the fact that those states have moved in his direction is key in terms of how this race is evolving.

Biden is still behind. Here is the chart showing the range of Electoral college possibilities just taking the polls at face value and assuming anywhere with a margin less than 5% could go either way:

Biden is doing a bit better than he has, but Trump still has a very strong position here. To win here Biden has to keep every state he leads in the polls, plus win Nebraska-CD2, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

How hard is that? This is where the tipping point chart comes in. It shows the margin in the state that puts the winner over the top:

As you can see, Trump's lead is the smallest it has been since mid-October. But that is due to a recent spike toward Biden that only came in from the last week or so of new polls (covering times from a little earlier than that).

Will it last? The movements toward Biden in January and March did NOT last. After a few weeks, the trend reversed and headed back in Trump's direction. The magnitude of this change does seem to be larger. But as usual only time will tell.

In the mean time, while Biden is doing a bit better than before, a comparison with 2016 and 2020 puts things in perspective:

And here is that same comparison, but with the electoral college margin instead of the tipping point:

Trump is still WAY ahead of where he was in both 2016 and 2020. And of course he won in 2016, and in 2020 Biden just barely won. In both of those years polls underestimated Trump. If they are underestimating him again, he is positioned for a very substantial win. (If the election was today.) Of course this time the polls may be underestimating Biden. We won't really know until the votes are counted.

A race with a tipping point less than 5% (in either direction) is a competitive race. And we still have about 160 days. A lot can and will happen.

Next up, lets look at the two statistical models I do looking at how far off the EG poll average was from the final results in 2008-2020, and using that to estimate ranges for this time. One of these assumes the errors in all the states are completely independent from each other, the other assumes all the states will have the same error. The truth will of course be somewhere in between.

Now, repeating myself, these are both "if the election was today". Which it is not. I'm working on adding models that take the time left into account, but they are not ready yet.

In any case, with both of these views, the center line really hasn't moved much since at least December. We do see Biden's best case improving a bit recently though. So has Trump's though.

Here is what these look like in terms of chances of winning. Again, and I really just can't say this enough, these are not taking into account how much things may change in the remaining time.

Biden's recent improvement shows up on the Uniform swing model, but still isn't making much of a difference on the Independent states model. Imagine the real scenario to be somewhere in between.

But looking at these I really want those models that take into account the amount of time left. I'm working on it! I may have to take some time off in June to just knock that out. 🙂

And that is that. I'll try not to go 60+ days before the next update, but it is what it is. Day job. Family. Other responsibilities. Sometimes this just ends up delayed. Sorry!

But the site itself is updated pretty promptly whenever new polls come out. Almost always within 24 hours, sometimes a lot less.

So please bookmark and explore the site itself regularly, and also follow ElectionGraphs on Mastodon for daily summaries and posts whenever new polls come out.

Coming up next: A verdict in Trump's NY trial, and the first Biden vs Trump debate. Will either of those change anything? I guess we will find out.

161.9 days until polls start to close.

227 Days Out: Now With Presumptive Nominees

It has been about 66 days since my last post about the general election polls.

That was right before the Republican Iowa Caucus kicked off the delegate chasing season.

Earlier this month both Trump and Biden clinched their nominations.

So now is a good time to start getting back to looking at the general election.

The one sentence TLDR:

  • In order to win, Biden has got to fix his issues in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, then pull in at least one more place, but there is still plenty of time to do that.

The slightly longer TLDR:

  • Looking at the state by state polls, Trump is still doing very well, and Biden is not.
  • Ignoring the ups and downs in between, overall state by state polls have continued to move toward Trump over the past two months. It is possible Trump is near his ceiling, but there has not been a sustained movement back toward Biden yet.
  • No states crossed the center line over the last two months though, so the electoral college picture still looks pretty similar to how it did last time.
  • Trump is still polling FAR better than he did at the comparable time in either 2016 or 2020.
  • This all comes down to the fact Trump is leading in the poll averages for Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. To win, Biden needs to win all three of these states, plus at least one more electoral vote from somewhere else, or get surprise wins elsewhere to make up for losing one of those.
  • The leads in all three of these states are small enough (under 5%), and the number of undecideds high enough, that this situation could change very quickly as people start paying attention.
  • My "probabilistic views" have Trump at between 96.6% to 99.8% to win depending on how correlated the states are, but it is critical to remember this is conditional on:
    • "Polls don't change at all between now and November" (and we all know they will change a lot), and
    • "The difference between final EG averages and actual election results is similar in 2024 to what we saw from 2008-2020" (which basically means the averages tend to UNDERESTIMATE the Republican by 1.3% percent in the close states, but there are at least some indications polling may be underestimating the Democrat this time).

In other words, and I added a bunch of disclaimers on the site about this, everything here represents a snapshot of NOW. Interpreting the data on this site as a true prediction of November would be a mistake. Things don't become truly predictive until VERY close to the election. There can be large movements in the scale of weeks.

Instead, the right way to think about the information here is as a gauge of how much work candidates have to do, and where they have to do that work.

Right now that translates into "In order to win, Biden has got to fix his issues in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, then pull in at least one more place."

I do have some ideas but how to model a probability that actually takes into account how the averages may evolve in the time remaining before the election, but I honestly doubt I will have time to execute on that for the 2024 cycle. Maybe for 2028.

OK, now all the specific charts and graphs for those who want to dig in. You should of course also feel free to just explore all the data on the site yourself.

I'm going to restructure how I do these update posts a little bit. As we get closer to the election, I'm going to need to put them out more often, which means I need to make them easier for me to do. Which means more "here is the snapshot from the site" with a little less narrative.

This is the overall summary of all the main stats. Keep in mind all the disclaimers I gave at the top of this post. All three views show Trump heavily favored based on current polling, with a Biden win just barely in the range of possibility. It would be a major upset, and representative of huge polling errors if it looked like this in November and Biden won.

But as I said, and will emphasize once again, we have a long way until the election yet, and things can change quickly.

That's a lot of red. Of course land area doesn't correspond to either population or number of electoral votes. (And Alaska doesn't represent its true area anyway.) But this still gives you an at a glance view. There are only a small number of states with light pastels indicating a really close race at the moment. As usual, the battle will only be in a handful of states.

Looking at the numbers for the subset of the states that are even remotely in contention (margin less than 10%), including how they have changed since last time:

As of January 15th:

As of March 23rd:

Net movement toward Trump:

  • Maine-CD2 (1 EV): Trump by 2.4% -> Trump by 8.6% (Trump+6.2%)
  • Wisconsin (10 EV): Trump by 0.0% -> Trump by 3.0% (Trump+3.0%)
  • Maine-All (2 EV): Biden by 7.8% -> Biden by 5.7% (Trump+2.1%)
  • Pennsylvania (19 EV): Trump by 0.6% -> Trump by 2.6% (Trump+2.0%)
  • Texas (40 EV): Trump by 5.4% -> Trump by 7.3% (Trump+1.9%)
  • Ohio (17 EV): Trump by 9.2% -> Trump by 10.8% (Trump+1.6%)
  • Nevada (6 EV): Trump by 3.8% -> Trump by 5.2% (Trump+1.4%)
  • Colorado (10 EV): Biden by 7.7% -> Biden by 6.6% (Trump+1.1%)
  • Iowa (6 EV): Biden by 10.0% -> Biden by 11.1% (Trump+1.1%)
  • North Carolina (16 EV): Trump by 6.2% -> Trump by 7.2% (Trump+1.0%)
  • Michigan (15 EV): Trump by 4.0% -> Trump by 4.5% (Trump+0.5%)
  • Minnesota (10 EV): Biden by 4.3% -> Biden by 3.9% (Trump+0.4%)
  • New Hampshire (4 EV): Biden by 8.0% -> Biden by 7.6% (Trump+0.4%)

No net movement:

  • New Mexico (5 EV): Biden by 9.3%
  • Nebraska-CD2 (1 EV): Trump by 4.7%
  • Florida (30 EV): Trump by 8.7%

Net movement toward Biden:

  • Virginia (13 EV): Biden by 4.2% -> Biden by 4.5% (Biden+0.3%)
  • Arizona (11 EV): Trump by 5.8% -> Trump by 5.0% (Biden+0.8%)
  • Georgia (16 EV): Trump by 6.7% -> Trump by 5.3% (Biden+1.4%)
  • Alaska (3 EV): Trump by 10.8% -> Trump by 9.4% (Biden+1.4%)

No states crossed the center line at all, so the electoral college picture is very similar to what it was two months ago, but Trump has gotten stronger in states he already was ahead in, and Biden has gotten weaker in states where he was ahead.

There are four exceptions listed above, so there are a few places where Biden has improved, but everywhere else, including the key battleground states, Trump has improved.

Sticking to the categorization view for now, so just taking the poll averages at face value and seeing who leads where, and counting any state where the margin is less than 5% as "in play" we see the chart above.

Basically, the trend from October to December was more and more states moving to a Trump lead margin of more than 5%, putting those states out of reach for Biden as far as this view is concerned, along with a few states where Biden had been ahead by more than 5% dropping to a smaller Biden lead, putting them in reach for Trump.

The range between the Biden best case and the Trump best case narrowed from 250 EV down to 150 EV. Just a lot fewer electoral votes in play, while the "expected" case moved from Biden by 14 to Trump by 88 showing that most of this was movement away from Biden.

Those trends were all about the end of 2023 though.

So far in 2024, there has been limited movement between the categories. A little jittering here and there as various states have crossed category boundaries (often temporarily) but no big lasting directional moves. Most of the changes we looked at earlier on a state by state basis stayed within the broad categories. Thus Trump is stronger when you look at individual states, but the overall electoral college picture hasn't changed too much.

The other way of looking at this, before bringing in the probabilistic models, is what I call the "tipping point". This is the margin in the state that puts the winning candidate over the edge of you order the states by margin. (Or the average of the margins in the two states in the middle if the states are ordered in such a way that there could be a 269-269 tie.)

Basically, this is like looking at a popular vote margin, but adjusted for the structure of the electoral college. In this view you can also see the Biden collapse starting in October, but the time since the new year shows a bit more back and forth, with a bit of improvement for Biden in January, followed by a trend back toward Trump again in February. Then just some jiggling around in March, with no clear trend.

The tipping point shows us that at the moment Biden needs almost a 5% swing to take the lead again in the categorization view. That is a lot, but not out of the question, especially since polls are still showing significantly more than that 5% in all the close states still answering with 3P candidates or "undecided" when asked about the general election.

Now that both candidates have clinched their nominations, the closer we get to November, the smaller that "neither" category should get. Both 3P and "undecided" tend to collapse as elections approach. And how those people end up splitting between, Trump, Biden, sticking with their 3P, or just not voting will probably end up being the deciding factor in the election, more so than Biden or Trump supporters actually changing their minds and flipping to the other side.

These two are the same as the previous two charts, but with the added context of 2016 and 2020.

For Biden supporters, these should be the scariest charts on my site. They show just how much better Trump is doing in polling so far this cycle than he did in either 2016 or 2020.

He was always behind in the polling in both those cycles. He won in 2016. He came close in 2020. The fact that he has been outperforming both of those years consistently, and has been straight up ahead most of the time should be very concerning.

For all the reasons I gave at the beginning of the post, there are lots of reasons to think the situation might be very volatile, and that Trump may be near his ceiling. But the Biden folks would surely feel a lot better if the polling started looking more like 2020, or ideally better than 2020 for them. The fact that they instead look considerably worse than 2016 has to be worrying.

You either have a real situation where Biden is behind and has to make up a lot of ground, or polls are massively underestimating the Democrat this time around, unlike the last two cycles, where they underestimated the Republican.

These views show the range of possibilities for the electoral college margin in the two probabilistic models. These look at the odds in each state, based on assuming the distribution of the difference between the final election graphs average and the actual election results looks similar to the aggregate deltas from 2008 to 2020, then I do automated Monte Carlo simulations to see what the overall general election looks like based on all those state results.

The "Independent States" one assumes no relation in how far off the actuals are from the averages in one state compared to the other. The "Uniform Swing" one assumes that that delta will be the same in every state. Both of these are extremes. The "truth" is somewhere in between.

The darker the band, the more likely a result in that range. You can easily see that right now all the dark colors are in the "Trump wins" part of both graphs, with only lighter colors stretching over to the "Biden wins" part of the graphs.

These two graphs translate the green margin bands into straight up "chance of winning".

I'll say again, because this is very important, this is:

  • Assuming polls look the same on Election Day that they do right now. (Alternately formulated as "if the election was today".)
  • Assuming final poll averages in the close states differ from the actual elections results in a way similar to the aggregate errors in 2008 to 2020. (Alternately formulated as "polls underestimate the Republican again".)

Both of those are big assumptions.

So you shouldn't really read this as "Trump has a 96.6% to 99.8% chance of winning."

Instead read it as "Trump is ahead in all the critical states right now, Biden has a lot of work to do if he is going to catch up and win."

Of course, it might not be Biden doing work, it could also be Trump doing things that hurt himself. You never know. But things have to happen to move things in the Biden direction. If things stay how they are, Trump is heavily favored.

And there we are. That's it for today. Hopefully I don't let it go another 66 days before posting a summary. But I make no promises. I have a lot of things going on and sometimes it is hard to make time to do these posts.

But the site itself is updated pretty promptly whenever new polls come out. Almost always within 24 hours, sometimes a lot less. Right now there are almost always multiple new state level polls every week. By the time we get to September, there will be multiple polls almost every single day. The last three weeks before the election, I'll probably take vacation days off of my day job just to keep up with the deluge of new polls every day. 🙂

So please bookmark and explore the site itself regularly, and also follow ElectionGraphs on Mastodon for daily summaries and posts whenever new polls come out.

227.1 days until polls start to close

Hold on tight.

295 Days Out: Peak Trump?

Here we go. It has been another 50 days, so time for another blog post update on the 2024 race. I'll do these more often when we get really close to the end, but for now 50 days still seems good.

Remember, here on the blog I try to do periodic narrative updates, but I update the live status on ElectionGraphs.com as quickly as I can when new state level polls come up, so the graphs and charts there will always be more up to date than these blog posts. Also follow Election Graphs on Mastodon for updates every single time a poll is added, plus daily status summaries.

As usual, I'll start with a summary.

  • Bottom line: There may be lots of time left for things to play out, but Trump is doing great right now, and Biden is… not.

OK, a little bit more:

  • The last 50 days of polls have continued to move in Trump's direction. Biden's best position of the last year was in June. The next three months were not great, but things were mostly steady. Then the bottom fell out around the start of October, and things have only gotten worse since.
  • Some of the graphs have started to turn around and move toward Biden again in the last month or so, but due to the winter holidays polling has actually been pretty sparse, and so it is too early to tell if this is the start of a new sustained trend, or just a temporary bump.
  • The tipping point right now is Trump ahead by 4.0% in Michigan. That still represents a close race. 4.0% is an amount that can disappear in less than a week depending on news events, or if polls are wrong in the opposite direction this year compared to 2020 or 2016, that lead could be a mirage.
  • Polls this far out ARE NOT predictive of the final result. However, we can see where things stand today and compare to previous cycles. Trump continues to massively outperform his state level polling at the same time in the 2016 and 2020 cycles.
  • In 2020, Biden won Georgia and Arizona. At the moment, those two states don't even look competitive, with polling showing strong leads for Trump in both.
  • In 2020, Biden also won Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Nevada. Trump is currently showing narrow leads in all four. These states have been battlegrounds before, and clearly will be again this time. To get things moving back in his direction, Biden needs to start here.
  • Some Democrats are acting as if Trump has a weak hand and any current good polling for him is just an aberration and will disappear as the election approaches and Trump's legal issues continue to unspool. Or they point to special elections and abortion referenda where they have over performed relative to expectations. Or to the large number of undecided voters that they think will end up breaking for Biden in the end. Perhaps they will be right on all that. But right now Trump is ahead, and it is foolish to underestimate him.

With that out of the way, anybody who only cares about the summary should leave. For those of you who are left, I'll dump a lot of charts and graphs…

Here is what the spectrum of close states (poll average margin 10% or less) looked like when I did the last blog post on 2023-11-24:

And here we are on 2024-01-15:

Categorizing the movement of all of these states:

Movement toward Trump:

  • Maine-CD2 (1 EV): Biden by 1.6% -> Trump by 2.4% (Trump+4.0%)
  • Maine-All (2 EV): Biden by 11.1% -> Biden by 7.8% (Trump+3.3%)
  • Michigan (15 EV): Trump by 1.1% -> Trump by 4.0% (Trump+2.9%)
  • North Carolina (16 EV): Trump by 4.0% -> Trump by 6.2% (Trump+2.2%)
  • Virginia (13 EV): Biden by 6.0% -> Biden by 4.2% (Trump+1.8%)
  • Arizona (11 EV): Trump by 4.4% -> Trump by 5.8% (Trump+1.4%)
  • Florida (30 EV): Trump by 7.3% -> Trump by 8.7% (Trump+1.4%)
  • Minnesota (10 EV): Biden by 5.3% -> Biden by 4.3% (Trump+1.0%)
  • Nevada (6 EV): Trump by 2.8% -> Trump by 3.8% (Trump+1.0%)
  • Georgia (16 EV): Trump by 5.7% -> Trump by 6.7% (Trump+1.0%)
  • Iowa (6 EV): Trump by 9.2% -> Trump by 10.0% (Trump+0.8%)
  • New Hampshire (4 EV): Biden by 8.6% -> Biden by 8.0% (Trump+0.6%)
  • Colorado (10 EV): Biden by 7.8% -> Biden by 7.7% (Trump+0.1%)

No change:

  • New Mexico (5 EV): Biden by 9.3%
  • Nebraska-CD2 (1 EV): Trump by 4.7%
  • Ohio (17 EV): Trump by 9.2%

Movement toward Biden:

  • Wisconsin (10 EV): Trump by 0.1% -> Trump by 0.0% (Biden+0.1%)
  • Texas (40 EV): Trump by 5.8% -> Trump by 5.4% (Biden+0.4%)
  • Pennsylvania (19 EV): Trump by 1.2% -> Trump by 0.6% (Biden+0.6%)

Just like last time the moves were overwhelmingly toward Trump.

Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, both important states given how close they are, did go the other way by a small amount, but the impact of this was overwhelmed by so many other states moving against Biden.

The only thing that actually flipped from Biden to Trump since 50 days ago was Maine-CD2. This was due to the very first poll for this congressional district this cycle, showing  a 14.0% Trump lead, displacing the 2004 election results in the average. In 2004 Kerry beat Bush by 5.8% there.

But in 2016 and 2020 Trump won ME-CD2 by healthy margins, so this is essentially just the new poll in the average confirming that the move toward the red in this district is likely to continue in 2024, and now that it has moved into that zone, it should not be surprising if ME-CD2 not only stays red, but gets redder once there are a few more 2024 polls in the mix.

But that's just one electoral vote. Lets take a deeper look at the four states currently in the "Weak Trump" category, in order by how many Electoral votes they have:

First up, Pennsylvania. This is of course one of the states that bucked the trend and seems to be moving back toward Biden. From June through the middle of December, with a few exceptions, the movement was usually toward Trump, with some individual polls showing Trump with margins as high as 8.9%. But starting in mid-December, things started to go the other way, with 2 out of 3 polls since then actually showing Biden in the lead, and the third with only a 1% Trump lead.

You never know what the next poll will bring of course, but for the moment at least, Pennsylvania seems to be trending back toward Biden.

Repeating something I've mentioned before though, the "neither one" category, which includes both people who say they will vote for other candidates, and folks who say they are truly undecided, is huge compared to the margin between Biden and Trump. Trump leads by 0.6%. The average has 16.6% saying "neither" in Pennsylvania at the moment.

That is massive, and indicates that the situation is potentially very volatile, as both 3P support and "undecided" tend to collapse as elections approach. As an example, the "neither" category in Pennsylvania on Election Graphs on election eve in 2020 was only 3.7%.

Next up Michigan. Michigan has been moving dramatically toward Trump since July. The average has gone from Biden by 2.8% to Trump by 4.0% today. A 6.8% swing in six months.

And it looked worse a few days ago. The most recent poll in Michigan, from Target Insyght, in the field from January 4th to 10th, shows Biden ahead by 4%. But this is the first poll showing a Biden lead since early November. It is way out of line with all the other recent Michigan polls. It honestly looks like an outlier.

Immediately before this poll was added, the average in Michigan had Trump up by 5.8%… which was redder than Texas currently is in the EG average.

Michigan with Trump ahead by more than 5% is very very bad news for Biden. With Michigan at those levels, the EG "categorization view" which takes the poll averages at face value, and just says any state with a margin under 5% could go either way, shows Biden still losing even if he won ALL of those close states.

That new poll puts Michigan back as "Weak Trump" rather than "Strong Trump" though. Because while I may speculate here on the blog that maybe it is an outlier, for the averages on the site, I don't judge, and just include everything.

Maybe that new poll is actually just the start of a new trend, and it is really the earlier polls showing Trump significantly ahead in Michigan that were the outliers, in which case maybe things are starting to move toward Biden again. Who knows? But if not, Michigan is looking very challenging for Biden right now.

If Biden campaign people aren't deep diving to figure out how to tackle Michigan right now, then they are committing political malpractice. They need Michigan. (And all of the states we are talking about today actually, but Michigan is the biggest problem at the moment.)

Oh, and once again we have a massive 17.8% of people in the "neither" category. They are probably the people that Biden needs to target first.

The current EG average shows Trump by 0.0%. This is of course rounded. The unrounded average has Trump leading by 0.04%. But that level of precision is false precision. This average is really a tie.

Looking at the actual individual poll results included in the average, they range from Biden up by 5% to Trump up by 6%. The scatter on the chart is all over the place. There is no obvious trend, and we have about as many polls with Biden leading as with Trump leading. The average has been close to the tie line since the beginning of November.

I really want more polls in Wisconsin. For the moment, all I can say is that it looks like Wisconsin is close, the variation on the polls there is pretty wide, and polling there is slow enough that we can't really judge short term trends.

And of course big "neither" numbers in Wisconsin too.

Biden hasn't led a poll in Nevada since October, but looking at the polls since then, it looks like they might be trending back toward Biden after a spike toward Trump, but with Trump still firmly in the lead. Well, once again with a "neither" category much larger than the margin. But still a lead on the margin.

Nevada is only 6 electoral votes, but at the moment if you gave Biden all the states where he leads the average, plus Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin…  you end up at a 269/269 tie, which would send the election into the House of Representatives where the NEW House that just won election would vote by state delegation, not by individual representatives… a voting structure that would probably mean a Trump win in the end, even if the Democrats win back the House.

So if Biden wants a clean win, Nevada needs to get pulled back over the line too.

OK, so now lets zoom back out to the national view, and bring in all three of the different ways EG has of looking at the national picture:

Let's look first at the "odds ranges" between the Independent States and Uniform Swing views. These are the odds of a Biden win:

  • 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%
  • 2024-01-15: Between 1.2% and 4.4%

This is by far the worst performance we've seen in these blog posts. The two ends of these ranges represent the difference between assuming that the polling errors are going to be the same in every state, and assuming that the polling error in each state is completely independent of the errors in other states. The truth is going to be somewhere in between.

Both probabilistic views do base their probabilities on the differences between the final EG poll averages and the actual vote totals in 2008 through 2020. For details of how all this works see my post from January 2023. The bottom line though, is the probabilistic views assume that in the closest states, the Election Graphs poll averages are underestimating the Republican by a bit, because that is how it was averaging out all the results from 2008 to 2020. If the poll error is in the other direction this time, things will of course look a bit better for the Democrat.

I should make a graph that explicitly shows the range between these two probabilistic views, but in the mean time, here are the two charts on the probabilities:

Still looking at the probabilistic view, but looking at likely Electoral College outcomes instead of the odds:

The independent states view is the most dynamic in terms of how sensitive it is to every single new poll added, so when looking for trends, it is the one to look at. Looking carefully at this chart, there is an inflection point around December 12th.

Trump is still way ahead of course, but there starts to be SOME movement toward Biden after that date. Trump had "a" peak on December 12th. Only time will tell if this was "Peak Trump" overall.

The uniform swing view is a lot less clear, but you can see a little movement toward Biden in recent weeks if you squint.

Taking the probabilities out of it, and just looking at the Classification view, you get this:

The only sign of movement toward Biden on this view so far is that the spike representing Michigan being out of reach because Trump's margin was greater than 5% was really short lived.

For the categorization view though, there is another way of looking at things, namely through the "tipping point", which is the margin in the state that puts the winner over the edge:

  • 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
  • 2024-01-15: Trump by 4.0% in Michigan

We do have a graph of this one though!

We see the spike over 5% for the short time Trump's margin rose up to 5.6% in Michigan, moving the tipping point very briefly to 5.4% in TEXAS.

That was stunning. Texas as the tipping point state? But it didn't last long, and the tipping point is back down to a 4.0% Trump lead in Michigan.

That is still substantial though. Since I have been doing this sort of election analysis, the biggest delta between the final EG tipping point and the actual tipping point based on the election results was 3.45% in 2008. That year the polls underestimated Obama.

We have many months to go, but if we still had a Trump by 4.0% tipping point on Election Day, the overall polling error would need to be underestimating Biden this time, and be bigger than the errors we had in any of the previous four presidential elections in order to result in a Biden win.

The tipping point can also move very quickly. In 2016, Clinton's lead in the tripping point lost almost 6% in just the last couple of weeks before the election. There is the variability inherent in polling in general, plus news events really can move opinion. Leads can evaporate almost overnight under the right circumstances.

This is one of many reasons why polling this far out is not predictive, it only tells you about how things are right now, and where candidates need to put in effort to change things.

Here is the tipping point comparison with the last two election cycles:

For almost this entire election cycle Trump has been doing better than he was doing in either the 2016 or 2020 cycles. Since October, he has been doing SUBSTANTIALLY better than these previous cycles.

You can also see this looking at the center lines for the electoral college margin view:

All of the above assumes Biden vs Trump, because that currently seems like the almost certain matchup, absent something really unexpected coming up.

Election Graphs will be covering the delegate race starting with the Republican caucus results in Iowa, which will start to come in less than 24 hours from when I publish this blog post.

Expect a post about Iowa delegates once things settle down a bit in the election coverage and it looks like we have stable delegate estimates.

We will know before too much longer if the Biden vs Trump assumption about Election 2024 ends up holding true.

In the mean time, a quick look at other possibilities for the Election 2024 matchup, using the Independent States Probabilistic View median electoral college result since that is the most interesting to look at:

There is enough polling on Biden vs Trump and Biden vs DeSantis to feel like the lines above are pretty good. Trump is considerably stronger than DeSantis when pitted against Biden.

Biden vs Haley is getting there, but should still be taken with a significant dose of salt, because state by state polling for that combination is still pretty sparse, so a lot of the EG state poll averages are still based significantly on election results from previous cycles. But it looks like she PROBABLY does better against Biden than DeSantis, but not as well as Trump does.

All three of these Republican candidates are leading Biden though, the question is by how much, and how secure that lead is.

The other three combinations on the chart above have barely been polled, and should be ignored. Harris, Pence, and Youngkin aren't even running at this point anyway.

Finally, closing the post with the current Biden vs Trump map:

295.8 days left until the polls start to close on Election Day 2024.

Less than a day until the Iowa caucuses on the Republican side.

Buckle up everybody. Things are starting for real now!

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.]