Good Polling Week For Democrats

Since last week's update, there have been new polls in Nevada, Colorado, and Arizona.

There was only one category change. Biden's poll average in Nevada moved from a 4.5% lead to a 6.2% lead which changed the state from Weak Biden to Strong Biden in the Election Graphs categorizations.

This change drops Trump's best case in the categorization view to a 26 electoral vote win over Biden as Nevada is moved out of the list of potential Trump wins:

The Biden vs. Trump tipping point also shifted from a 3.4% Biden lead in Maine's 2nd congressional district to a 4.9% Biden lead in Virginia.

But taking into account the polling changes in all three states, and looking at the probabilistic model, of the six most polled Democrats against Trump, five improved their odds of winning the electoral college.

The only exception was O'Rourke. None of the new polls included him. Again.

Dem 18 Aug 25 Aug ūĚöę
Biden 99.7% 99.9% +0.2%
Sanders 94.1% 95.5% +1.4%
O'Rourke 80.0% 80.0% Flat
Warren 67.6% 71.0% +3.4%
Buttigieg 63.2% 67.1% +3.9%
Harris 62.9% 65.8% +2.9%

The odds favor all of the Democrats over Trump at this point.  There is a massive spread between the extremes, however. At the low-end, Harris loses about a third of the simulated elections to Trump. Meanwhile at the high-end Biden looks very solid indeed with that 99.9%.

As usual, disclaimers are essential. What we see NOW may not resemble what things look like by the time we get to the Iowa caucuses, let alone by the time we get to Election Day 2020.

Although as every day passes, this is less true, many people still are not paying close attention to this contest, and many people don't know much about Harris and Buttigieg and some of the others. Name recognition and the intensity of the coverage does matter, and that will all ramp up as voting approaches.

Perhaps even more importantly, the general election campaign itself won't go into full swing until it looks like the winning candidates on both sides are inevitable, and that will make a huge difference. For instance, I would be surprised to see that 99.9% for Biden survive contact with an all-out assault from the Republican side.

With that said, let's look at the three states individually:

Biden is the only candidate breaking out in Arizona. The polling average still shows a Trump lead, but the three actual 2020 polls so far show one tie and two Biden leads. The state is held on the red side by the Republican wins in 2012 and 2016. At the very least though, it is clear that Biden puts Arizona into contention.

Warren's poll average has also improved a little bit on the 2000-2016 average Republican win margin of 7.6%, but she has yet to show a single poll with her leading Trump.

The other four have barely moved the needle. And Sanders and Harris are doing worse in Arizona than the historical average.

The difference between Biden and the others is even starker when you look at the chart showing the odds of winning Arizona:

Biden is now up to a 31.8% chance of winning Arizona. The other five candidates range from an 0.3% chance (Sanders) to a 1.8% chance (Warren).

Unlike Texas, where it looks like all the Democrats are making the state look bluer, Arizona is much more selective.

The Emerson poll this week is the very first Colorado polling for 2020. Biden, Sanders, Warren, and Buttigieg all lead Trump by more than 5% in the new poll. Harris leads by a narrower 3%.

In all of these cases, the average drops significantly in the blue direction, because it is the 2000 election results that are falling off the average, where the Republican won by an 8.4% margin.

One poll is not enough to move the state out of the "Weak Democrat" category though. But if the next Colorado results are similar to these, the next election to drop off the average will be the 4.7% Republican win in 2004 and the state will probably move to "Strong Democrat" at that point.

Looking at the odds view though, you can see that even the move from this one new poll makes a big difference. With just the average of the last five elections as the poll average, we put the Democratic chance of winning Colorado at 58.4%. An advantage, but just barely.

With this first 2020 poll, excluding O'Rourke since no pollster included him, the Democrats range from an 81.2% chance of winning the state (Harris) to a 90.9% chance (Biden).

All the Democrats improved their averages in Nevada except for Buttigieg.

Biden is the standout, moving into "Strong Biden" territory, with his 6.2% margin translating into a 94.8% win chance. The other Democrats range from a 70.6% chance to win (Warren) to an 88.2% chance to win (Sanders).

And that is where we are this week.

436.1 days until polls start to close.

For more information:

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

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

Biden makes Arizona close

Since the last update, there have been polls in Texas and Arizona.

Only Arizona resulted in a blog-worthy change.

Namely, the Biden vs. Trump matchup moved from "Strong Trump" to "Weak Trump."

The two polls we have so far on this matchup in Arizona have Biden doing significantly better than Democrats have fared here in recent Presidential elections. The latest one shows Biden ahead.

Given these results, the average is moving in the Democratic direction, but given Arizona's history, it would take more polls to pull the race into blue territory. For now, Biden will have to settle for the state being in reach as Trump's lead drops under 5% to 3.2% which improves Biden's "best case" on our bubble:

The case where Biden wins all the close states, now including Arizona, is the downward bump in the bottom right of the "envelope of possibilities" shown above.

Now, Democrats shouldn't be too excited about Arizona yet.

This week Election Graphs has added "win probabilities" based on the data shown in the "Polling Error vs. Final Margin" post back in January. Basically, given the history of how Election Graphs poll averages have matched up against actual election results in the 2008 to 2016 elections, I produce an estimate for the chances of each outcome given the margin. You can now see this on any of the state detail pages and state comparison pages.

At the "Republican leads by 3.2%" level this gives an estimate that Trump has an 87.7% chance of winning Arizona, leaving Biden with only a 12.3% chance. Now, this is non-trivial. But Trump still has a pretty substantial advantage, until or unless more polls come out confirming a Biden lead.

A few caveats since this is the first time I'm referencing this type of calculation:

  1. These "win chances" are based on the past performance of Election Graphs averages, and past performance may or may not be a good indicator of future results.
  2. The model represents "if the election was today." It does not take into account the probabilities of the polls moving one way or another in the time between now and the election.
  3. Since there are only two polls of this matchup in this state so far, only 2/5 of the data points included in the average are even real polls as opposed to results from previous elections.
  4. It is still a long, long time until the election. Things will change.

But still, this is a fun new number to look at, and I'll be referring to the "win odds" more often as new results come in. There will also be new visualizations of this metric coming soon. And while so far I've only added this information on the state detail and comparison pages, the intention is, of course, to use this as the basis for a Monte Carlo simulation of the national race in the way I mentioned in the January "Predicting 2016 by Cheating" post.

Stay tuned.

In the meantime, back to Arizona for a bit.

As has been the pattern in poll after poll, Biden is doing better against Trump than the other Democrats. You can see above that so far Biden vs. Trump is the only one of the five best-polled candidate combinations where the Democrat is polling dramatically different than the historical election result average in Arizona.

Biden looks like he makes Arizona competitive.

The others, not so much.

Finally, just a quick look at Texas as well:

Unlike Arizona, in the case of Texas, ALL FIVE Democrats are doing significantly better against Trump than the historical election average. But that average was much more Republican to start with, so even with the polling averages moving in a Democratic direction, none of the five Democrats put Texas into swing state territory yet.

Biden, as usual, is doing best. Trump only leads Biden by 5.6%.

Using the new probabilities feature on Election Graphs, this translates into a 2.1% chance of Biden taking Texas.

545.7 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.

The First 2020 Polls

A few days ago I looked at where all the states ended up if you just look at the average results of the last few elections. No 2020 specific data.

But there have already been state level 2020 polls. Sixteen by my count. They are now all included on Election Graphs.

When I do updates here, unless there is a strong reason to do otherwise, I'm going to only discuss the five "best polled" candidate pairs. At the moment, the only Republican polled so far has been Trump. (Sorry Weld fans.) The five best polled Democrats against him right now are Biden, Warren, O'Rourke, Sanders, and Harris… in that order.

So with that out of the way, let's start looking at some graphs!

The chart above shows the "expected" electoral college result for each of these five candidate pairs, assuming each candidate wins all the states they lead in the Election Graphs five poll averages. This average still includes previous election results since there are no states where there are actually five polls yet.

So what do we see? From the very limited polling we have so far, we see Biden doing noticeably better than any of the other four Democrats when pitted against Trump. In the electoral college, Biden leads Trump by a 42 electoral vote margin. Sanders leads Trump by 6 electoral votes. And then Warren, O'Rourke, and Harris all lose to Trump by 6 electoral votes.

The "tipping point" is perhaps a better way to look at things. It is similar to looking at a popular vote margin, but adjusted for the structure of the electoral college. Here Biden has a 1.2% tipping point margin over Trump and Sanders has a 0.9% tipping point margin over Trump, but Warren, O'Rourke, and Harris all trail Trump by an 0.1% margin.

Frankly, ALL of these results, for all five possible opponents to Trump, are firmly within the "too close to call" zone. Even if it was the day before the election, not 607 days before the election. With this much time left, and with the extremely limited polling so far, any patterns we see may easily disappear as new polls come in. It might even be safe to say they will probably disappear. It is still very very early.

Having said that, the Biden advantage is even more striking as you start looking state by state. The following charts show how the polling average in each state has moved as the polls so far have come in.

Note: Keep in mind these are all measuring how each of the Democrats would fare against Trump in the general election, NOT how they might fare against each other in the primaries.

Watch the red line. The red line is Biden. Down is better for Democrats.

OK, in California Biden hasn't broken out. He hasn't actually been polled in California yet. So his average is just the average of the last five presidential elections.

Biden doing better than the other four Democrats in Texas.

Biden doing better than the other four Democrats in Ohio.

Biden doing better than the other four Democrats in Michigan.

Biden doing better than the other four Democrats in North Carolina.

Biden doing better than the other four Democrats in Arizona.

OK, none of the top five have been polled in Minnesota yet. (Only Klobuchar has been.) So they are all still on one line.

Biden doing better than the other four Democrats in South Carolina.

Biden doing better than the other four Democrats in Iowa.

OK, we finally have a state where Biden has been polled and he isn't doing better than the other Democrats. In New Hampshire, both Sanders and Warren do better against Trump than Biden does.

But that is it. Out of 10 states where we have state polls so far, Biden does better than the other four Democrats in 7. In 2 Biden hasn't been polled yet. Only in 1 does another Democrat do better against Trump.

Now, to be clear, at this stage in a Presidential race, this may be due entirely to name recognition. Most people may still not have much of an idea who Warren, O'Rourke, and Harris even are. But surely they would know who Sanders is, right? His name recognition must be comparable to Biden's. Right?

In any case, the way Biden consistently is outperforming other Democrats against Trump in the polls so far is striking. And he hasn't even officially said he is running yet.

It will be interesting to see if this pattern continues as the field starts to gel, and the other candidates get better known.

Election Graphs will of course update as the new polls come in…

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 they are added. If you find the information in these posts interesting or useful, please consider visiting the donation page.