Back To The Normal Zone

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let's take a quick look:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let's do the comparison to 2016 now:

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

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

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

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

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

And that is it for today. More soon.

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

We are almost at the end!

For more information:

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

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

The Race Tightens? Or Not?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wow. This is a big change.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

538's Nate Silver tweeted this earlier today:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anyway, that is the big story of the week.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finally, time for the 2016 comparison:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We shall see.

Finally, the map as it stands right now:

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

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

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

But first, the usual closing with the countdown:

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

We are in the home stretch. Almost there now!

For more information:

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

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

The Situation on Debate Day

It is a few hours before the first Presidental debate, and I am overdue for another blog update.

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

First of all, let me highlight that prompted by some questions about the site sent to me by reader Wim M., I realized that while I had produced one in previous election cycles, I had completely forgotten to create a Frequently Asked Questions page for 2020. That is now rectified.

Here is the new FAQ for this website. If you have questions that aren't included there, please contact me and let me know what you want to know, and I may add the question.

With that out of the way, the last update here was 12 days ago on September 17th. Here are the high-level changes since that last post:

Model Metric 17 Sep 29 Sep 𝚫
Probabilities
(Indep States)
Trump 2σ
Median
Biden 2σ
Biden +44
Biden +152
Biden +256
Biden +46
Biden +144
Biden +256
Biden +2
Trump +8
FLAT
Trump Win
Tie
Biden Win
0.1%
0.0%
99.9%
0.1%
0.0%
99.9%
FLAT
FLAT
FLAT
Probabilities
(Uniform Swing)
Trump 2σ
Median
Biden 2σ
NEW
NEW
NEW
Trump +84
Biden +168
Biden +312
NEW
NEW
NEW
Trump Win
Tie
Biden Win
NEW
NEW
NEW
7.5%
0.0%
92.5%
NEW
NEW
NEW
Categories Trump Best
Expected
Biden Best
Biden +6
Biden +240
Biden +288
Biden +8
Biden +168
Biden +294
Biden +2
Trump +72
Biden +6
Tipping Point Biden +5.6% Biden +5.4% Trump +0.2%

Hey! There is a whole new section. And it shows Trump with a much better chance of winning! Where did that come from? What is that?

After the last blog post, I had a question from reader Jason H. asking why our Biden win odds were so much higher than a lot of other sites showing odds for the election and if this was related to treating the results in states independently. I answered that for the moment, the biggest difference is that this site only does "if the election was held today", not an actual forecast that tries to how things may change in the remaining days before the election, but that indeed, our simulation did consider the states to be independent, and if there was still a big difference by the time we got to the election, that would be why.

But frankly, it is getting close enough to the election to know that a 99.9% chance of a Biden win is too high. Sure. He is a favorite. But 99.9%? Nah. That can't be right. Even if the election was today.

Around the same time, there was a blowup on "Election Twitter" around the same issue, roundly criticizing models that treated the states as if they were uncorrelated. I am too small to have been mentioned by name, but this criticism very much applied to this site too. So I needed to do something.

The new FAQ has some additional info, but the bottom line is that while I don't have a good way at the moment to predict the degree of correlation between states, I can put bookends around the possibilities.

What I have shown in the past in the probabilistic model is the completely uncorrelated case. It assumes that what happens in one state has no predictive value toward the other states at all. Because an upset in one state can be compensated for by an upset in another, this results in a much tighter range of possibilities overall.

I have now added a "uniform swing" view that assumes essentially that all the states always move together. This is the other extreme. If you know how far off one state is from the poll average, you can figure out where all the other states will be. It results in a wider distribution, with larger chances for upsets (or landslides).

Looking at the historical "envelopes" I produce, the difference looks like this:

You can clearly see that Uniform Swing produces a much wider range of possibilities, even in the central 1σ (68.27%) band. Basically, forcing the states to move in lockstep results in a much more uncertain view of the race.

In terms of win odds, while the "Independent States" graph is now just a solid block of blue with Biden's win odds pinned near 100% since June, the Uniform Swing view looks like this:

Biden is still heavily favored across this whole time period, but Trump has spiked as high as an 18.7% chance of winning. That is much much better than 0.1%.

These two views are the extremes given the polling averages I have, and the state margin to state win odds mapping I calculated using the historical 2008 to 2016 data on this site.

The truth is somewhere in between these two views, but my methods don't pinpoint an exact value for that "true" value.

So this means that Election Graphs right now thinks that Biden's chances of winning are somewhere between 92.5% and 99.9%, while Trump's chances of winning are between 0.1% and 7.5%.

This is still based ONLY on poll averages, it is not a model that factors in all kinds of other things like some other places do.

And critically, this is still "if the election was today". It doesn't become a prediction until we add the last polls right before the election. Because of this, you'll notice that we still have higher win odds for Biden than some other famous places. They are trying to factor in the chances that Biden's current lead disappears between now and the election. I still don't do that.

But this seems more intuitively reasonable than the near 100% Biden lock we have been showing.

The main 2020 Electoral College page has now been updated to include these new views along with everything that was shown there before. Sorry I didn't add all this earlier!

With all of that out of the way, time for all the things we usually highlight in these update posts:

This week's TL;DR: Biden is still significantly ahead. The race is mostly stable. A few states that were just barely on one side or the other of the centerline switched sides. But either way, they are really too close to call. So even though the "Expected Case" in the Categorization view moves a lot, the actual state of the race isn't much different.

Let's look at all the places that shifted in or out of "Weak Biden" and "Weak Trump" since the last update.

First up, Texas. Biden was up by a little bit for a while, but no longer. It is still a close race though, with Texas actively in play.

Pennsylvania has mostly been "Strong Biden", but for a brief time, Biden's lead slipped under 5%. Then Biden strengthened again, and it is back where it usually is… just out of Trump's reach.

Ohio has been just barely Trump for awhile. The latest average moves it to just barely Biden. But the "just barely" part of that is more important than the candidate's name you put after that. Ohio is on the edge.

Georgia is also right on the edge, but because it has been polled more often, it appears more volatile. In the 12 days since the last update, Georgia flipped over the center line in my averages seven times. But it was Weak Biden 12 days ago, and it is Weak Trump now, so the net change is for Trump this time. But given the history, it would not be surprising for it to flip dozens of times before the election.

Like Pennsylvania, Biden's lead briefly dipped under 5% in Michigan. Unlike Pennsylvania, the timing of the polls was such that the brief foray into "Weak Biden" was actually erased from the graph once all the data was in.

From the other direction, the addition of some older polls from June, July, and August actually pulled Trump's lead in South Carolina under 5% for much of the summer. That older poll data wasn't available when we posted 12 days ago, so it only reflected as a switch to "Weak Trump" when we added those polls a few days back. But then a few polls from September quickly pulled the state back into the "Strong Trump" zone.

Exactly the same thing happened with Alaska. The addition of older data from June and July briefly pulled the average under 5%, but then it popped back up again.

Montana on the other hand did actually move from "Stong Trump" to "Weak Trump. That one data point showing Biden actually leading Montana sure looks like an outlier though. So don't be surprised for this to jump back to "Strong Trump" when that poll rolls off the average. (Assuming there are at least 4 more Montana polls before the election, which there may or may not be.)

And Nebraska's second congressional district, where the average finally catches up with the individual polls, which have been showing 6%+ Biden leads since the spring.

And then the "Weak" states and CDs that did not switch categories this time, without commentary:

Add up all of these changes, the categorization view now looks like this:

Note because we backfilled a lot of June, July, and August numbers that became available last week, some of the older part of the chart moved around a bit as well as just the newer weeks.

But the picture here is pretty static for August and September. The middle line bounces around a bit as the close states cross back and forth over the centerline. But basically, there isn't much consistent movement one way or another. Where we are now is very close to where we were two months ago.

Normally at this point, we'd show the probabilistic view and talk about it a bit, but that was covered at the beginning of the post this time with the addition of the Uniform Swing view. If you scroll back up and look at the probabilistic charts, you'll see they also show a pretty steady picture. Sure, there is some movement up and down as polls come in and out of the averages. But there is no clear directional movement. Neither candidate is breaking out of their "normal" range.

Is it any different for the tipping point?

Aside from some very short-lived spikes, the tipping point has been between 4% and 6% Biden since mid-June. And most of that time has been between 5% and 6% Biden. While as always, there is noise, this also shows a very stable race.

As a reference, in the three elections I have tracked, the biggest difference between the tipping point based on the final averages here and the actual tipping point based on the election results was 3.45% in 2008. Biden's tipping point lead is currently 5.4%.

The RCP average of national polls currently shows a 6.1% Biden lead. Comparing to the 5.4% tipping point, this implies that the structure of the electoral college is currently giving Trump a 0.7% head start. This is up from 0.3% head start in the last update.

The spectrum of states where the margin is less than 10% now looks like this:

Now time to compare to 2016:

In the expected case, Biden is down from where he was, but he is still doing better than Clinton was at a comparable time. This time in 2016 was a peak for Clinton, but Biden still beats it. Barely. But this is the high end of Clintons range, while it is the low end of Biden's.

But let's look at the tipping point comparison:

Clinton's early October peak was pretty substantial. While Biden's "expected case" is still better, in terms of the tipping point, he actually slightly lags where Clinton was at the same point. Biden is at 5.4%. Clinton was at 5.6%

So in terms of how much of a swing in nationwide polling would be needed to change the outcome, Biden is essentially exactly the same place Clinton was at this point in terms of the tipping point margin. And Clinton collapsed.

Quoting from the last post, since this hasn't changed?

What's different this time?

Aside from the big movement toward Biden in June, Biden's tipping point has been more stable than Clinton's. Clinton's line swung back and forth wildly. Biden is certainly jittering around a bit, but the magnitude of the movements is a lot smaller.

Election Graphs focuses on margins, but looking at the details of the polling and the actual absolute amount of support for each candidate, one big difference in 2020 vs 2016 is that we have a significantly smaller set of undecided voters now than in 2016. So the group who are available to "slosh around" and shift back and forth over time is a lot smaller.

Does that exclude the possibility of a Clinton style collapse?

No. It does not.

But it probably does mean you need a pretty huge news event to cause that kind of movement.  It would not only have to make the undecideds break strongly toward Trump but also keep some current Biden supporters from voting for him, either by actually flipping or just by staying home.

Clinton's tipping point at this point in 2016 was one of the highest levels she ever hit on this metric. Biden is about where he usually has been. This does seem to make the kind of collapse Clinton saw less likely.

But we are about to enter October. Will we get "October Surprises" this October that match the impact of what happened in 2016?

We only have a few weeks left to find out.

Finally, the current map:

Like everything else in this post, the map shows where things stood when I started this blog post. But we have entered the part of the season where new polls are being released nearly constantly. There have been several during the time I have been writing this update. Time to go and start adding them in…

For now though, the usual closing with the countdown:

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

Hold on tight.

For more information:

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

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

Muddled Week

Since last week's update, there have been new polls in New Hampshire, North Carolina, Alaska, and Washington.

In terms of category changes:

  • NH has moved from Strong Warren to Weak Warren
  • NC has moved from Weak Sanders to Weak Trump

That's it.

Biden's tipping point also moved from a 3.9% lead to a 3.4% lead.

All three of these changes are moves in Trump's direction. But if you look at the more granular changes, things are muddled, and it seems like a pretty flat week overall.

The national "win odds" from the probabilistic model now look like this:

In terms of changes since we looked last week:

Dem 11 Aug 18 Aug 𝚫
Biden 99.8% 99.7% -0.1%
Sanders 94.8% 94.1% -0.7%
O'Rourke 80.0% 80.0% Flat
Warren 65.8% 67.6% +1.8%
Buttigieg 62.4% 63.2% +0.8%
Harris 63.7% 62.9% -0.8%

Warren and Buttigieg improve a little bit.

Biden, Sanders, and Harris weaken a bit.

Harris drops to being the weakest of these six candidates against Trump.

O'Rourke doesn't move. But that is because none of the four polls this week even bothered to include him. Oops.

Let's look at each of these four states:

Biden is the only Democrat with a lead in North Carolina.

Before the Civitas poll added this week, Sanders had a very narrow lead in North Carolina as well. But although the Civitas poll was RELEASED this week, it had an earlier mid-date than the SurveyUSA poll that had given Sanders that lead last week, and so the Civitas poll (which showed a Trump lead) essentially erased that change from the chart.

The rest of the Democrats all lose to Trump, but narrowly.

The trends all show the Democrats generally improving as more polls come in though.

Except for Harris. She is getting weaker in North Carolina.

The Zogby poll added this week is the first general election polling for Washington State. Washington is a very blue state. But all five Democrats polled move the polling average to be even bluer than the 2000-2016 historical average.

It is of note that this is one of the very few states where Sanders does better against Trump than Biden does.

As usual, though, those two do noticeably better than the other Democrats.

Biden and Sanders have strong leads over Trump in New Hampshire. The other Democrats also lead, but by more narrow margins. The general trend as new polling comes in is toward the Democrats though.

Except for Warren's recent move in the other direction.

These are the very first Alaska polls this cycle.

Alaska is a very red state. But all five Democrats polled improve their Election Graphs averages over the historical average of the 2000-2016 elections that I use as a starting point before there are any polls.

As usual, Biden does best against Trump, followed by Sanders.

But Alaska is still a very red state.

And that is where things stand this week.

443.0 days until polls start to close.

For more information:

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

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