New Hampshire Tie Leaves Buttigieg Ahead

So, New Hampshire went much more smoothly than Iowa, so a few hours after polls closed, the delegates are already locked in.

A lot of coverage has talked about popular vote totals in both Iowa and New Hampshire. This is a mistake. That should be ignored. Just like winning the popular vote did not make Hillary Clinton president, winning the popular vote means nothing in the nomination process. What matters is delegates, and only delegates.

In New Hampshire, the delegate breakdown is:

  • 9 for Buttigieg
  • 9 for Sanders
  • 6 for Klobuchar

It was a tie.

No matter what happened with the popular vote.

Now, what does that mean for the race overall?

Time to look at the "% of remaining delegates needed to win" graph:

Remember, on this graph, down is good, up is bad. When a candidate gets down to 0%, they have won the nomination. If they go up to 100%, they have been mathematically eliminated.

Everybody is still going up!

This reflects the fact that nobody is even getting a majority of the delegates in contests yet, let alone performing at the (currently slightly higher) levels they would need to in order to actually start bringing these lines down.

There are clear differences between the candidates of course. We have two groupings at the moment.

The leaders are Buttigieg and Sanders, because they are going up more slowly than the others.

Buttigieg is doing the best, but Sanders is just behind him.

Sanders is also disputing some results in Iowa. If Sanders gets the best result he can hope for from those disputes, Sanders gains a delegate and Buttigieg loses a delegate, which would move Sanders and Buttigieg into an overall tie. (If that is resolved before Nevada anyway.)

Then there is a gap, followed by Warren, Klobuchar, and Biden (in that order) in the second tier, grouped pretty closely together.

The only actual change in the ordering caused by New Hampshire was Klobuchar overtaking Biden. This puts Biden in 5th place, which is clearly not where he wanted to be at this point.

Lots of people are making prognostications on how the rest of the race will play out based on these two contests. And it certainly does look like Biden's standing in future states has been hurt by his poor performance so far. But it is important to remember that only 1.63% of the delegates have been allocated so far.

All of the candidates still only need between 50% and 51% of the remaining delegates in order to be on pace to win. That is better than any of them have done so far of course, but that is not an outrageous or impossible number.

There is a long way to go. A lot can happen. And we haven't even gotten to the states where Bloomberg has been dumping money yet.

OK, especially at this stage, it may also be helpful to look at the chart in some more familiar ways before we close up.

Here are the results so far in terms of total delegate count :

And in terms of percentage of the delegates so far:

Or for those who prefer tables:

And broken down by state:

Bottom lines:

Buttigieg is the leader, with Sanders nipping at his heels.

Warren, Klobuchar, and Biden are behind, but it is so early, all three of them, and also candidates with no delegates yet for that matter, still have plenty of time to catch up… if they can get ahead of the rapidly growing narrative that the first 1.63% of the delegates have already determined their destinies.

152.5 days until the Democratic National Convention

194.5 days until the Republican National Convention

This post is an update based on the data on the Election Graphs 2020 Delegate Race page. Election Graphs tracks estimates of the convention delegate totals for both parties. 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 new blog posts. For those interested in more granular updates of delegate updates or general election polling, follow @ElecCollPolls on Twitter. If you find the information in these posts informative or useful, please consider visiting the donation page.

New Hampshire Eve

Yes, we had Iowa, but on the general election side of things, since the last update on February 3rd, we have had new polls for Tennessee, North Dakota, South Carolina, New Hampshire (x2), and Kansas.

With the exception of New Hampshire, these are solidly red states and so didn't really do anything to change the national picture. But things did jiggle just a little bit with the two New Hampshire polls, so we'll review the changes on all the major candidate pairs.

But first, for the first time in one of these updates, we actually have delegate leaders in both parties. This may well change as soon as we get results from New Hampshire, but for the moment, the delegate leaders are Buttigieg and Trump.

So before we look at comparisons of the various Democrats vs. Trump, let's look specifically at Buttigieg vs. Trump.


Looking at the Election Graphs probabilistic model, from September through the end of 2019, Buttigieg's position just kept getting worse. It seems to have leveled off a bit so far in 2020, so maybe Buttigieg is hitting a bottom. But currently, things don't look good for him, with the median case in our simulations being a 52 electoral vote defeat by Trump and only an 11.4% chance of an actual victory.

The categorization view, where every state just goes to whoever leads the average, regardless of how close it is, looks even worse. Buttigieg loses by 84 electoral votes.

If the election was today, things would look very grim for Buttigieg. However, looking at the center part of the spectrum of states, you can see that to flip this back to a Buttigieg lead, you need to pull Nevada, Michigan, Ohio, and Flordia back across the line without losing any currently blue states. (There are other combinations of states that would do it too, but this would be the "easiest" group.)

This may seem like a lot, and that 11.4% chance of victory may seem small. But remember, that is "if the election was held today". It does not account for potential future movement.

Of the four states mentioned, Buttigieg is doing worst in Florida. But he is only losing Florida by 2.2% in the polling average. So an across the board margin gain of 2.2% would put him in the lead again. In 2016, this metric (the tipping point) moved more than 5% in a month on several different occasions.

So while the current state of play for Buttigieg does not look great, this far out from the election, for that matter even a month out from the election, a lot can still happen to change a picture like this.

But for the moment, at this very instant, a Buttigieg vs. Trump general election looks like a pretty easy Trump win. If Buttigieg became the nominee, he would have some work to do in order to change his odds.

OK, now let's look at our top four candidate combinations on our national metrics:

Dem 3 Feb 11 Feb 𝚫
Biden +178 +178 Flat
Sanders +26 +26 Flat
Warren -12 -20 -8
Buttigieg -84 -84 Flat

In the "expected case" where everybody wins exactly the states where they lead the average, only Warren loses over these last 8 days, as New Hampshire slips from "Weak Warren" to "Weak Trump".

The tipping point doesn't move at all for any of these four between 3 Feb and 11 Feb, so we'll skip that one and move on to the probabilistic model.

Dem 3 Feb 11 Feb 𝚫
Biden +108 +106 -2
Sanders +36 +34 -2
Warren -6 -8 -2
Buttigieg -52 -52 Flat

In the median Monte Carlo simulation of our probabilistic model, every Democrat except Buttigieg slips by two electoral votes. Slipping a bit, but not a lot. Certainly less change than we've seen in previous updates.

Dem 3 Feb 11 Feb 𝚫
Biden 98.5% 98.4% -0.1%
Sanders 75.3% 74.2% -1.1%
Warren 43.9% 42.5% -1.4%
Buttigieg 11.4% 11.4% Flat

Finally, in terms of chances of winning the electoral college, Buttigieg is flat, but the others all continue to fade a bit.

The Democratic weakening we have been seeing since September may be slowing, but it has not stopped.

And that is where we are on the eve of NewHampshire. As I write this, Dixville Notch, Hart's Landing, and Millsfield have already posted their results. In less than 17 hours, we'll start getting results from the rest of the state. The Democratic nomination race is in full swing.

266.6 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.

Iowa! (Finally)

I'm sure anyone reading blog posts on Election Graphs already knows about all the drama about getting results from the Iowa caucuses. So suffice it to say that they had some issues.

The 2020 Delegate Race page has been updating whenever new results have become available over the last few days. For the most part, we use the excellent delegate breakdowns at The Green Papers as our definitive source for this information. You can find their current detailed status of the Democratic results in Iowa here. Note that they present a more conservative estimate at the top of the page, but a more aggressive estimate (using more provisional data) at the bottom of the page. Election Graphs uses the second estimate.

The delegate estimates here represent the best estimates for national delegates at the point the Iowa Democrats reported 100% of the vote counted. These may change slightly if there are corrections or recanvasses based on some of the irregularities that were found. And they almost certainly will be adjusted months down the line when national delegates are actually selected at the Iowa Democratic Convention in June.

With that in mind, let's jump right in and explain the central chart that Election Graphs uses to examine the delegate race. It isn't a straight forward chart of the number of delegates each candidate has accumulated either at the present moment or over time. You can find that kind of chart, and others, on the 2020 Delegate Race page. But the most important chart to watch is actually this one:

Rather than the date on the horizontal axis, we show the percent of available delegates that have been allocated so far. In the case of the Democrats this year, this is only the PLEDGED delegates (no superdelegates) since superdelegates will not be able to vote in the first round at the convention unless it is mathematically impossible for them to change the winner.

Using % allocated rather than date gives us a better idea of how far along we are in the race, given that primary and caucus dates are scattered across the calendar irregularly, and the number of delegates available on different dates varies wildly based on which and how many states are handing out delegates that day.

Even more critically though, the vertical axis is not simply a count of delegates. We do have that graph too. But the headline graph shows something that gives a much better idea of how the race is going.

Namely: The percentage of the remaining delegates each candidate would have to win in order to have a majority of the delegates (and therefore clinch the nomination).

If you support a particular candidate, you want this number to go DOWN. When it reaches 0%, a candidate has clinched the nomination. If it goes above 100%, on the other hand, then a candidate has been mathematically eliminated. (Absent pledged delegates being released from their pledges and voting a different way than they were "supposed" to.)

In practice, a candidate can be in a position where they have not yet been mathematically eliminated, but it becomes harder and harder to envision a scenario where they would win. For instance, if a candidate would need 60% of the remaining vote to win, but their percentage of the vote so far is only 40%, unless you know that they are really heavily favored in the remaining states, their chances are actually very slim.

Candidates who are on a pace to win will see their lines moving down.

Candidates who are not on a winning pace will see their lines moving up.

So, what do we see so far after the preliminary results from Iowa?

Well, everybody is moving up. This is quite simply because nobody got over 50% of the available delegates in this first round, which is where you start when nobody has any delegates yet. To move your line down, you need to collect delegates faster than your current "% of remaining needed". If you don't, your line keeps going up, as it becomes harder and harder to catch up.

This is just like how if you are behind in a race, to win you have to not just go faster than the car that is in the lead, you have to go enough faster to catch up with them before the finish line.

As of this writing, the best estimate of the delegate breakdown is:

  • 14 for Buttigieg
  • 12 for Sanders
  • 8 for Warren
  • 6 for Biden
  • 1 for Klobuchar

This seems like an absolutely huge difference between the top and bottom of this list until you realize that only 41 delegates out of 3979 have been allocated so far. That is only 1.03%.

So the "% of remaining delegates needed" varies from 50.18% for Buttigieg, to 50.51% for Klobuchar. (It would be 50.53% for any candidates who still have zero delegates.) These numbers are still very very close to each other.

The news has been filled with pronouncements of the possibility of Biden being doomed by this result or hyperventilation about the momentum for Buttigieg or Sanders. If such a small percentage of the delegates have been allocated so far, and everybody is still pretty close to each other, why is this?

Well… How candidates do in Iowa impacts their perception in New Hampshire. And New Hampshire impacts their perception in Nevada. Which impacts South Carolina. Which impacts Super Tuesday. And perhaps even more importantly, their performance in each state impacts fundraising and media coverage.

In these early stages, the "narrative" dominates. It does matter. A lot.

But in the end, it is all about the delegates. And so far, there is still not all that much difference between the candidates. Anything can still happen.

In terms of the graph above, look for when one of the curves starts heading down instead of up. That's when someone is really getting some momentum. It means that in every new contest, they don't even have to do as well as they have before in order to win. They can just keep chugging along how they have been, and they will end up winning.

For now, though, things can still get crazy.

Finally, before wrapping up, there was another surprise in Iowa besides Biden doing badly and Buttigieg doing well. The surprise was on the Republican side, where Iowa was actually the third state to allocate delegates (after Hawaii and Kansas).

In the Republican Iowa Caucuses, Bill Weld got 1.29% of the vote. Which was enough to get him one delegate out of the 40 available. So we have a race on the Republican side too!

Yeah, OK. Not really. But hey. Weld got a delegate.

157.4 days until the Democratic National Convention.

199.4 days until the Republican National Convention.

It is going to be a fun ride…

For more information:

This post is an update based on the data on the Election Graphs 2020 Delegate Race page. Election Graphs tracks estimates of the convention delegate totals for both parties. 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 new blog posts. For those interested in more granular updates of delegate updates or general election polling, follow @ElecCollPolls on Twitter. If you find the information in these posts informative or useful, please consider visiting the donation page.

On the Eve of Iowa

Since the last blog post on January 20th, there have been new polls in Florida, California, Iowa, New Hampshire, Delaware, Alabama, Texas (x3), Missouri, and Utah.

As I write this we are less than 24 hours away from the Iowa caucuses, so we'll move the usual "how things have changed since the last update" summaries to the end of the post, and instead, we will look at how each of the best-polled Democrats is doing against Trump as of the day before the Iowa caucuses.

There are many factors that go into voter decisions on who to vote for in primary and caucuses. But this cycle, time and time again, "who can beat Trump" comes up as a critical part of what Democratic voters are considering.

Election Graphs obviously looks at this question in a variety of ways. Our snapshots are "if the election was held today" though. We don't try to prognosticate how things will change in the months between now and November. We recognize things will indeed change. And we've seen very convincing arguments that a big part of the differences we see between how different Democrats do vs. Trump is due directly to name recognition and that if the lesser-known candidates actually won the nomination, they would, therefore, do better than current polling indicates.

None the less, the best view we can get right now is by looking at the current state by state polling. So we will do that. Just keep in mind the limits of that approach.

So here we go. One by one.

Biden vs. Trump

Let's begin the look at Biden's polling by comparing it to the 2016 election results.

If Biden won every state where he leads in the Election Graphs poll average (even by a little bit), then compared to Clinton in 2016, he picks up Florida (29 EV), Pennsylvania (20 EV), Ohio (18 EV), Georgia (16 EV), Michigan (16 EV), North Carolina (15 EV), Arizona (11 EV), and Maine-CD2 (1 EV) while not losing any states that Clinton won.

Clinton's final earned result was a 74 electoral vote loss (it was a 77 electoral vote loss after the faithless electors did their thing). If Biden were indeed to win every state he leads right now, he would have a 178 electoral vote victory.

Now, it is unlikely that Biden would actually win EVERY state where he leads in the poll average, even if the election was indeed today. Many of the states listed above show Biden just barely ahead. So if you look at the probabilistic model, which takes into account the chances of all the close states flipping one way or another, you end up with a median case of only a 108 electoral vote victory for Biden. This is much less than the 178 you get with the more naive view, but still pretty substantial.

In terms of odds of winning based on the past accuracy of Election Graphs averages going into election night, Biden is at a 98.5% chance of winning the electoral college.

Keep in mind though, on this exact date four years ago, Election Graphs showed Clinton with an 80 electoral vote lead if she won all the states where she was ahead in the polls. Later in the year that rose to 188 electoral votes, then it collapsed to only an 8 electoral vote lead on election eve, followed by her 74 (or 77 counting faithless electors) electoral vote loss in reality. So again, never forget that things can and do change, sometimes very rapidly. Most of Clinton's collapse happened in the last few weeks before the election.

Sanders vs. Trump

Compared to Biden vs. Trump, Sanders loses Florida (29 EV), Pennsylvania (20 EV), Georgia (16 EV), and Arizona (11  EV).

Now, all of those states are still close. But they flip to the other side of the line, and Sanders doesn't pull anything in the other direction to compensate.

This leaves Sanders only ahead by 26 electoral votes when you just count up the states in which he is ahead.

Unlike Biden, the probabilistic model helps Sanders. In the Biden case, there were several big "just barely blue" states. With Sanders, there are several big "just barely red" states. So the median in the probabilistic model is actually a 36 electoral vote win.

The odds of a Sanders win come in at 75.3%.

So Sanders would still be a favorite to win over Trump but is significantly weaker against him than Biden.

Warren vs. Trump

This time starting with Sanders vs. Biden, in comparison Warren loses Ohio (18 EV), North Carolina (15 EV), and Nevada (6 EV), but gains back Pennsylvania (20 EV) in exchange. That is a net loss of 19 electoral votes compared to Sanders.

But that 19 electoral vote change puts Warren on the other side of the win line. If both Trump and Warren won exactly the states where they lead the Election Graphs averages, you end up with a 12 electoral vote Trump win.

The probabilistic model helps Warren a little bit, but not enough. When you take into account how the close states might behave, you end up with the median case being only a 6 electoral vote win for Trump.

With things this close, and a slight Trump lead, we're currently showing Warren with a 43.9% chance of winning the electoral college.

This combination is so close that we're currently showing a 2.1% chance of an actual 269-269 tie for Warren vs. Trump, a scenario that would throw the election into the House of Representatives.

43.9% is not zero. Warren could win. But she would be an underdog. You'd be better off with a coin flip at the moment.

Buttigieg vs. Trump

This time starting with Warren vs. Trump, Buttigieg loses Pennsylvania (20 EV) again, as well as Michigan (16 EV). Adding all this up, you have Buttigieg losing to Trump by 84 electoral votes.

The probabilistic model helps slightly, with the median case being only a 52 electoral vote loss. But the odds of winning outright are a dismal 11.4%.

It would not be impossible for Buttigieg to win with these odds, but it would be a bigger upset than Trump's win in 2016 when the median of the odds given by sites that gave odds was a 14% chance of a Trump victory.

Now, as mentioned up top, there is a lot of evidence that even at this late date, part of why someone like Buttigieg is doing so badly is simply that a lot of people still don't know who he is. And presumably, that would change if he was nominated.

But counting on that seems like a big gamble.

How about Bloomberg, Yang, Klobuchar, and the rest?

Yes, Election Graphs does have data for these folks. And more. You can go to the main 2020 Electoral College page and select any of these Democrats and see the data. You can even see combinations with non-Trump Republicans. If there has been a state-level poll including a candidate, they are listed.

But frankly, of the currently active candidates, the four big ones (Biden, Sanders, Warren, and Buttigieg) are the only ones that have enough state-level data to say anything meaningful. Harris was there too. But she dropped out. O'Rourke had a bit less, but still, maybe you could say something. He's out too.

But these others just plain still don't have enough state-level polling. Even though it has been quite some time since Harris and O'Rourke dropped out, we still have better data about them than any of these others.

Of the rest of the active Democrats, Klobuchar vs. Trump has the next best volume of polling, followed by Bloomberg vs. Trump. Look if you want to. The links are right there. But take anything with you see with a huge grain of salt. There has been so little polling, in so few states, that you will not be looking at a reliable picture of anything.

Presumably, if any of these candidates start to look like serious contenders, we'll get a bunch of new polling including them, and that will change. But as of now, state-level polling on these combinations just doesn't have the volume to be meaningful.

The Choice for Democrats

There are many many reasons Democrats may have for picking one candidate over another in the primary process. Policy preferences and character being two of the biggest.

But for those whose biggest deciding factor is simply who is best positioned to beat Trump, the numbers above are pretty clear cut. It is Biden. By a wide margin.

Sanders is next, but it is a bit more of a gamble. Then Warren is slightly worse than a coin toss. Finally, Buttigieg is just a long shot, much more likely to lose than to win.

Now, again, this is all based on current state-level polling. Things will change.

Perhaps if Buttigieg runs the gauntlet and somehow ends up the Democratic nominee this will be accompanied by a huge rise in the polls against Trump. Maybe the Democrats would rally with excitement around a Warren nominee and you would see that big improvement against Trump there too. Maybe something else will happen that will cause Trump to plummet in the polls against all the Democrats.

Or in the other direction, perhaps Biden will completely collapse, and his advantage against Trump will disappear.

Any of the above could happen.

There is a strain of thought that says that because of this kind of uncertainty, the ultimate comparative electability of these candidates against Trump is fundamentally unknowable, and therefore this kind of examination should be ignored.

It is true that head-to-head state-level polls, or corresponding national level polls for that matter, can only tell you where things stand NOW. They are not a crystal ball into the future. But there is still a substantial amount of data there.

It probably isn't wise for anybody to make their primary choices ONLY on this kind of information. It must be balanced against the other factors that lead people to like or dislike particular candidates.

But based on where things are now, there are clear differences in how these four candidates fare against Trump, and it seems to me that it would be folly to ignore that information.

Since the Last Update

OK, that's it for the snapshot in time examination of the Democrats on the verge of the Iowa Caucuses. Now time for the standard look at how things have evolved since my last Election Graphs blog post.

Dem 19 Jan 3 Feb 𝚫
Biden +178 +178 Flat
Sanders +26 +26 Flat
Warren -12 -12 Flat
Buttigieg -84 -84 Flat

So, in the straight-up, what happens if everybody wins all the states they lead, there were no changes this time around.

Dem 19 Jan 3 Feb 𝚫
Biden +3.0% +3.0% Flat
Sanders +0.1% +0.1% Flat
Warren -0.5% -0.5% Flat
Buttigieg -1.6% -2.2% -0.6%

In the tipping-point view, only Buttigieg declined.

Looking at the numbers above, keep in mind that in 2016 the tipping point moved more than 5% in mere weeks on more than one occasion. Things can be very volatile once we get into the final stages of the campaign. A movement of just a couple of percent in the tipping points above would lead to a completely and totally different picture of the race.

Frankly, in the end, ALL of these tipping points show a close race.

With the categorization view, things have looked more static, and we see changes less frequently, because states have to jump categories or move past the existing tipping point to make a change.

So let's move to the probabilistic view, which is much more sensitive to individual poll changes, regardless of any category changes which may or may not happen.

Dem 19 Jan 3 Feb 𝚫
Biden +126 +108 -18
Sanders +48 +36 -12
Warren +4 -6 -10
Buttigieg -50 -52 -2

All four Democrats worsened their positions against Trump in the median case for the Election Graphs probabilistic model. Biden drops the most, while Warren flips to the loss side of the centerline.

Dem 19 Jan 3 Feb 𝚫
Biden 99.2% 98.5% -0.7%
Sanders 79.9% 75.3% -4.6%
Warren 52.4% 43.9% -8.5%
Buttigieg 14.2% 11.4% -2.8%

Finally, the win odds.

Once again, all four Democrats slipped in these last 15 days.

This continues the movement away from the Democrats and toward Trump that started in the fall. Judging from the graphs, there are some signs that the movement is slowing. But it does not appear to have stopped yet.

The Democrats are still bleeding.

Perhaps the start of the delegate battle with the Iowa Caucuses will be a turning point. Or not. We shall see.

In the meantime, the 2020 Delegate Race page is itching to get some real data. As soon as results start coming out of Iowa, that page will start being updated with the delegate totals as they develop, along with calculations on what that means for the remainder of the race. And of course, there will be blog posts here after each major primary or caucus with an analysis of what it all means.

Buckle up, here we go.

274.6 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.

Mixed Results

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now in terms of win odds:

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

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

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

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

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

Moves toward the Democrats:

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

Moves toward Trump:

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

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

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

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

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

Then the tipping points:

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

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

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

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

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

Georgia has been very sparsely polled.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is on the Republican side.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

288.8 days until polls start to close.

For more information:

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

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

More Weakening for Democrats

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

From the categorization view, we had the following changes:

Warren vs Trump:

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

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

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

The tipping point moves similarly:

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

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

Buttigieg vs Trump:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We have a long way to go.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So how likely?

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

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

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

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

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

So that is where we are.

302.1 days until polls start to close.

For more information:

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

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

Looking at Virginia

I'm trying to get back in the habit of more frequent updates in preparation for actually entering 2020, but there is not much new this time.

Since the last update on December 16th, there has only been a single poll in Virginia. And they only polled Sanders, Biden, and Warren vs. Trump.

The categorization style changes resulting from this were:

  • Biden vs. Trump state category change: VA has moved from Solid Biden to Strong Biden
  • Sanders vs. Trump state category change: VA has moved from Strong Sanders to Weak Sanders
  • Trump best case vs. Sanders has changed: Sanders 217 to Trump 321 -> Sanders 204 to Trump 334

Since there is relatively little new polling this time, instead of just looking at some of the overview candidate comparisons, let's look at each of the Virginia results.

Pollsters have not paid enough attention to Virginia. For Sanders, there have only been three polls. One from UMW and two from VCU. Each of these has released multiple "views" of their data. These detailed results are why you see more than three dots on the chart. For instance, in the latest, a new VCU poll gave results for "all," "registered voters," and "likely voters."

For Sanders vs. Trump, those broke like this:

  • All: Sanders 46% to Trump 46% (Tie)
  • Registered Voters: Sanders 45% to Trump 47% (Trump +2%)
  • Likely Voters: Sanders 45% to Trump 48% (Trump +3%)

When a single poll releases multiple results, Election Graphs essentially averages the results. So, in this case, these three results together count as a Trump +1.67% poll.

The Election Graphs average now contains three actual 2020 polls, plus the 2016 and 2012 election results to round out the average giving Sanders a 4.4% lead in Virginia.

Just looking at the three actual polls, though, you can see each subsequent result has been worse for Sanders than the previous one. That is probably not the trend he would like to see.

But this is where I go back to what I said at the start. There have only been three polls. It is easy to see trends that are not real when you only have three data points. We need more.

But this last poll moves the average back into the competitive zone. Although Virginia has been trending blue, Democrats may not want to take it for granted.

Biden vs. Trump also shows each of the last three polls weaker for Biden than the one before. Except there is one additional 2020 poll, the leaked Trump internal poll from March. That provides one more data point showing a strong Democratic lead, and Biden's numbers have been better than Sanders anyway, so we end up at a Biden +9.9% average, which is slightly worse than the 10.1% lead before this latest poll. The line isn't moving toward Trump as much as with Sanders, but Biden still shows weakening.

The latest couple of polls have been significantly weaker, though, so again, we need more Virginia polls.

Warren shows a similar pattern to Sanders, except a little bit stronger, with the average standing at a Warren +5.0% lead.

The Democrats weakening in Virginia continues the trends I discussed last time. The fall was not great for the Democrats.

The longer-term trends are evident in the graphs, but see the charts below for the new changes caused by the one new VCU poll in this update.

Dem 16 Dec 22 Dec 𝚫
Biden 99.4% 99.4% Flat
Sanders 83.5% 82.6% -0.9%
Warren 67.2% 66.1% -1.1%
Buttigieg 16.5% 16.5% Flat

Dem 16 Dec 22 Dec 𝚫
Biden +126 +126 Flat
Sanders +56 +54 -2
Warren +24 +22 -2
Buttigieg -44 -44 Flat

On the categorization view, there were no changes to the Expected Case or Tipping Point numbers, so we'll skip those this time.

And that's where we are.

317.1 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.

Is Impeachment Hurting the Dems?

Once again, too long between updates. Since the last one on November 20th there have been new polls in Wisconsin (x3), New Hampshire, California (x2), Texas (x2), Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Iowa.

If I'd been posting weekly as I had intended, there would have been a post looking at how Election Graphs win odds correlated to the popular vote polling averages at RCP and using that to measure the Democrats' Electoral College disadvantage. (Spoiler: As of right now it looks like Democrats need an approximately 6% popular vote win margin to have a 50/50 chance of winning the Electoral College.)

I also would have done a post talking about how while for us political junkies, it seems inconceivable that people don't know who at least the top five Democratic candidates are, this article in the Washington Post by Robert Griffin lays out a pretty convincing case that a large part of the differences in polling between Democratic candidates vs. Trump is STILL simply that lots of people don't know who some of these people are, something that clearly would change before Election Day if they were to win the nomination. That is obviously very important when interpreting what we see here on Election Graphs, which is 100% driven by state level general election matchup polls.

But I kind of missed talking about both those points when they were fresh. So I'll let the above suffice for now.

The main thing I want to look at today is this:

This shows the median electoral college result from the Election Graphs Monte Carlo simulations for each candidate pair.

For both Biden and Sanders there is a very clear "V" shaped pattern. (OK, if you look closely, you can see a "W", but the large scale pattern is a "V".) In the first half of this V, as new polls came in and the state averages moved from the baseline based on the 2000-2016 elections, to averages based on 2020 polls, almost every poll made Sanders and Biden look better.

Although he dropped out already, you can see a smaller scale version of this "V" pattern with O'Rourke as well.

Buttigieg doesn't show the initial portion of this V. As the initial polls came in, his results basically just stayed at about the same level as the 2000-2016 baseline. Frankly though, there was very little Buttigieg vs. Trump state level polling in this time frame though, which would explain that.

But all four of these candidates share the second half of the "V". Starting at a specific point in time, as new polling results came in, more often than not, the state averages would move away from the Democrat, and so the median electoral college results would also move the same direction.

When you look at the charts, the inflection point seems to be… well… very close to the date Nancy Pelosi announced that she was officially backing the impeachment investigation over the Ukraine issue.

There are some ups and downs, and you could argue that the best numbers for the Democrats were perhaps a little bit earlier or a little bit later, but roughly speaking, leading up to that announcement on September 24th, every week Sanders, Biden, and O'Rourke looked better in the polls than the week before, while Buttigieg held steady. After September 24th though, Sanders, Biden, Buttigieg, and O'Rourke all looked weaker in each subsequent week.

This may be a coincidence. It may just relate to which pollsters put out polls in which states during this time period. It may just be a "reversion to the mean" after a series of earlier polls were more favorable to the Democrats than was really reflected by the ground truth…

But the location of the inflection point compared to the date when impeachment moved from something a few people were talking about, to a real thing that was happening is hard to ignore. It certainly LOOKS like the impeachment efforts are hurting the Democratic candidates in state level head to head polling against Trump. State after state where the polling averages had moved from red to blue, have now slipped back into the red again.

But wait. There has been one clear omission in the discussion above.

Warren's trend line just does not match the patterns followed by the four candidates discussed above. (Neither did Harris's for that matter, but she dropped out, so we won't spend more time there.) There is no clear "V" shape like Sanders, Biden, and O'Rourke. Nor does Warren follow Buttigieg's pattern.

In fact, Warren does not show any change that looks like it coincides with impeachment events. Initially as early polls came in, she looked like she would do worse than the median based on the 2000-2016 averages. Then she started doing a little better than that. And now she's a little worse again.

The fact that the reversal in fortunes that lines up with the impeachment announcement does not seem to apply to Warren (or Harris) seems notable. After all, Warren was one of the first Democratic candidates to come out strongly in favor of impeachment, and she did so strongly. If there was an impact from impeachment, why wouldn't it touch her? Perhaps even more than other candidates? This may in fact be an argument toward this movement NOT being tied directly to impeachment, but rather to something unrelated.

Without information that specifically digs into motivations rather than just candidate preferences, it is hard to say anything definitive. But the alignment certainly is suggestive. We shall see if those trends continue as the impeachment saga continues to play out.

In the mean time, we'll close out by looking at the changes in our main metrics since the last update post, followed by some of the state level charts.

Dem 20 Nov 16 Dec 𝚫
Biden +158 +126 -32
Sanders +88 +56 -32
Warren +50 +24 -26
Buttigieg -6 -44 -38

All four still active Democrats weakened significantly in their "median case" from the Election Graphs Monte Carlo simulations.

This  has not been a good month for the Democrats.

Dem 20 Nov 16 Dec 𝚫
Biden 99.9% 99.4% -0.5%
Sanders 95.0% 83.5% -11.5%
Warren 81.8% 67.2% -14.6%
Buttigieg 44.3% 16.5% -27.8%

Given how far ahead Biden was, his win odds are still 99%+. But the other three took pretty big hits these last few weeks.

Especially Buttigieg. Last time he was already the only candidate with a less than 50% chance of beating Trump. But now that has dropped to a paltry 16.5%.

Dem 20 Nov 16 Dec 𝚫
Biden +210 +178 -32
Sanders +118 +58 -60
Warren +48 +14 -34
Buttigieg +6 -86 -92

Using the older and simpler "expected case" where every candidate simply wins every state where they lead the polls, you see similar across the board drops to what you see in the "median case" from the simulation, but the drops are even more dramatic.

Dem 20 Nov 16 Dec 𝚫
Biden +4.4% +4.3% -0.1%
Sanders +1.8% +1.0% -0.8%
Warren +0.6% +0.6% Flat
Buttigieg +0.2% -1.3% -1.5%

For the tipping point, which measures how much of a gain would be needed to flip the electoral college winner if that gain occurred uniformly across all states, Warren manages to stay flat, but the other three Democrats get weaker.

Finally, presented without additional commentary, the updated state charts in each of the states with new polling. You'll notice the recent swing toward Trump occurs in almost every state.

The news is coming hot and heavy these days. Iowa is now less than 50 days away. Things will develop quickly. Stay tuned.

323.6 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.

Goodbye Blue Texas

It has once again been longer than I like, but it is time for another post.

Since the last update, there have been new polls in Michigan (x3), Nevada (x2), Texas (x2), Arizona (x2), Pennsylvania (x3), Florida (x2), North Carolina (x3), Wisconsin (x2), Iowa, Georgia (x4), and New Hampshire.

That is a lot. Sorry about that. Oops.

The most striking individual state result is that after peaking in September with three of the top six Democrats leading Trump in the Texas averages, and two more getting close, Texas has been moving back toward Trump.

As of now, none of the six most polled Democrats lead in Texas, and only three of those keep Trump's lead to less than 5%. And one of those (O'Rourke) has already dropped out of the race, leaving only Sanders and Biden still making it close.

Converting this to win odds, Biden has a 30.1% chance of winning the state (if the election was today), and Sanders has a 25.0% chance of winning.

None of the rest (except O'Rourke, who is out) is above 5%.

So Texas is reverting to form. It may be closer than it has been in previous years, but at least for the moment, the Democratic hopes for a blue Texas seem to be fading.

I'll go over other states with new polling at the end of the post, but first, a look at four ways of looking at the changes in the national summary since the last post.

O'Rourke vs. Trump is now in the top six best-polled candidate combinations (replacing Sanders vs. Pence). But since O'Rourke dropped out, we will leave him out and only look at the top five for now.

I haven't done posts showing the update-to-update comparisons for the older "categorization method" before, but since that used to be the bread and butter of Election Graphs, let's start there.

Dem 1 Nov 20 Nov 𝚫
Biden +254 +210 -44
Sanders +190 +118 -72
Warren +38 +48 +10
Harris +20 +20 Flat
Buttigieg +6 +6 Flat

In this "expected case" view, where every candidate wins every state where they lead in the poll average, both Sanders and Biden have lost ground.

Warren improves her position a little.

Harris and Buttigieg are flat.

Dem 1 Nov 20 Nov 𝚫
Biden +5.3% +4.4% -0.9%
Sanders +4.7% +1.8% -2.9%
Harris +1.4% +1.4% Flat
Warren +0.3% +0.6% +0.3%
Buttigieg +0.6% +0.2% -0.4%

Looking at the tipping points, which is analogous to the popular vote, but adjusted for the structure of the electoral college, once again, Warren is the only Democrat who is improving.

Harris is flat.

Biden, Sanders, and Buttigieg all lose ground to different degrees.

Note that while for a short time, Biden had a tipping point greater than 5%, meaning he could win using only states where he led by more than 5% and didn't even need any swing states. That is no longer true.

Now all five of these Democrats have tipping points indicating that they need to win at least some tight states to win.

Now, moving on to the more elaborate probabilistic model I look at a bit more these days…

Dem 1 Nov 20 Nov 𝚫
Biden +184 +158 -26
Sanders +124 +88 -36
Warren +36 +50 +14
Harris +8 +12 +4
Buttigieg -4 -6 -2

This view shows the "Median Case." The median case is the electoral vote margin in the exact middle of the 1,000,001 simulation runs done for each candidate combination when sorted by the margin. About half the time, the Democrat does better than this. About half the time, they do worse.

Warren and Harris both improve a bit. Biden, Sanders, and Buttigieg all lose ground.

Note that while in the classification view, all five Democrats lead Trump, in the probabilistic view, Buttigieg's median case is actually to lose.

But we need to look at probabilities, not the single "median case" estimate. You should not think that since a candidate is ahead or behind on the median case, that maps to winning and losing.

For instance, Buttigieg's median case is a six electoral vote loss to Trump. But if you look at the 2σ range, that is the range of outcomes that you would expect to occur 95.45% of the time; you get a range from Buttigieg winning by 92 electoral votes to Trump winning by 90 electoral votes.

There is a huge range of possibilities. It isn't just "Trump is ahead in the median case, so he wins."

So time to look at the win odds…

Dem 1 Nov 20 Nov 𝚫
Biden 100.0% 99.9% -0.1%
Sanders 98.3% 95.0% -3.3%
Warren 73.1% 81.8% +8.7%
Harris 54.6% 58.2% +3.6%
Buttigieg 46.0% 44.3% -1.7%

The trends above, which cover just under three weeks, show Warren and Harris improving, while Biden, Sanders, and Buttigieg slip back.

But looking back a bit farther, we can see some overall trends going back to September.

Biden continues to be pegged at a 99%+ chance of winning. His lead in some states has slipped, but his overall margins are high enough that this hasn't yet started to impact his chances of winning.

Sanders never had as big a margin lead as Biden, so as some of those states slipped back toward Trump, you see a more significant impact on his odds of winning.

Harris and Buttigieg have never done all that much better than a coin flip against Trump, peaking at around a 70% chance of winning. But since September, they have both dropped significantly, with Buttigieg now only at a 44.3% chance of winning, and Harris only at 58.2%.

The only candidate consistently improving over the last few months has been Warren. She bottomed out at only a 41.7% shot of winning in June, and while there have been ups and downs, the trend is clearly in Warren's direction.

We will, of course, see if that lasts. As can be seen by the spike toward Trump in June, trends can reverse quite quickly.

Now, besides Texas, here are a few additional states where there are trends worth noting. (Since so many places had new polls, I'll skip a few where there is less to comment on.)

No clear trends in Florida except to note that it is an exceptionally close race no matter which Democrat you match up against Trump. As has been usual for the last few presidential races, Florida is right on the line. And it is big. So it makes a huge difference.

The general trend in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin over the past few months has been for Democratic leads to decrease.

In Pennsylvania, there is no Democrat with more than a 5% lead, and Warren (and O'Rourke) are both slightly behind.

At this point, only Biden has a lead higher than 5% in Michigan.

In Wisconsin, all the Democrats still lead, but none by more than 5%.

These are, of course, the three states that gave Trump his victory in 2016. At the moment, they are all looking to be close battlegrounds once again.

The people who say that the Democratic nominee needs to pay close attention to these states are certainly not wrong.

And at the moment, the Democrats seem to be slipping in all three.

Pollsters have not paid as much attention to Georgia as I would like. But there have been a bunch of polls in the last few weeks and they show a competitive state, which is a significant change from the historical average.

The poll average now shows Biden and Sanders ahead, with Warren, Harris, and Buttigieg all bringing Trump's lead under 5%.

(O'Rourke has never been polled in Georgia, and now that he has dropped out, probably will never be. Sniff.)

Although Biden has reversed a bit recently, overall Sanders, Warren, and Biden are making North Carolina a narrowly fought battleground.

Harris and Buttigieg, while they are still keeping Trump's lead under 5%, do not seem to be gaining any additional ground lately.

Arizona has also been moving toward the Democrats. At least for Sanders, Warren, and Biden. Warren and Biden actually are slightly leading. Sanders brings Trump's lead under 5%.

Harris and Buttigieg, on the other hand, are not making things much closer than the historical 7.6% average Republican margin in the state. Just as in North Carolina, they lag behind the stronger Democrats.

So Trump is gaining in Texas, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

But the Democrats are gaining in Georgia, North Carolina, and Arizona.

As we get closer, things will heat up; there will be lots more polls and more movement.

Are we having fun yet?

349.7 days until polls start to close on election night.

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.

Harris and Buttigieg Struggling in Trump Matchups

Apologies for the radio silence. I had been trying to post a blog update here weekly, but things got in the way the last few weeks. One of the items was the fact that my wife Brandy is running for local office, and I've been helping do things like put out signs and such. If you happen to live in South Snohomish County, Washington, take a look at her campaign site and vote! Ballots are due Tuesday! No polls for races like this, so no previews. We'll see the results when we see the results.

In any case, it is only the blog summaries that have suffered; the actual polls have continued to be updated this whole time. You can always check the 2020 Electoral College page for the current status. In any case, let's look at what has changed.

Since the last update, there have been new polls in North Carolina (x2), Ohio (x2), Virginia, Maine (All), Iowa, Minnesota, California, Florida, Wisconsin, Arizona, and Washington.

Let's look first at the changes to the national probabilistic views.

The main theme of the nearly three weeks since the last update is Harris and Buttigieg doing significantly worse in matchups against Trump.

Dem 13 Oct 1 Nov 𝚫
Biden +166 +184 +18
Sanders +124 +124 Flat
Warren +30 +36 +6
Harris +20 +8 -12
Buttigieg +24 -4 -28

All of the above vs. Trump. Sanders vs. Pence flat at Sanders +28.

The decline for Harris and Buttigieg is even more apparent in the win odds:

Dem 13 Oct 1 Nov 𝚫
Biden 99.9% 100.0% +0.1%
Sanders 98.3% 98.3% Flat
Warren 70.6% 73.1% +2.5%
Harris 68.0% 54.6% -13.4%
Buttigieg 66.8% 46.0% -20.8%

All of the above vs. Trump. Sanders vs. Pence at a 72.7% chance of a Sanders win. This percentage is down 0.1% from 72.8% on 13 Oct, but this is just random fluctuation of the Monte Carlo model, not a real change. (There was one new Sanders vs. Pence poll, but it was in California and did not make any difference.)

Biden ticks up to 100.0%, but that is because I round. It is really 99.98% at the moment. Still, Biden is doing extraordinarily well in these state by state polls against Trump and continues to get stronger.

Note that Buttigieg is now at a less than 50% chance to win against Trump. The last time any of the most polled Democrats were under 50% was in June when Warren briefly dropped below that threshold before rebounding.

At this point, there are three tiers of Democrats against Trump.

  • Winning decisively: Biden and Sanders
  • Leading, but narrowly: Warren
  • Coin toss: Harris and Buttigieg

Next, let's look at the changes in each state with new polls to see what is driving the national results.

Starting with California since it has the most electoral votes, but you won't find any hints as to changes to the national picture here. California is very solidly blue, and nothing is changing about that.

Florida, on the other hand, has lots of electoral votes and is close. So small changes make a big difference. Harris is now 2.6% behind Trump, which translates into only having a 16.6% chance of winning the state, down from 24.2% before this update. With 29 electoral votes at stake, that makes a real difference in the overall picture.

Similarly, Buttigieg moves from a 45% chance of winning the state down to 35%.

Compare to Biden with a 2.7% lead and a 71% chance of winning.

Florida is important. Winning it is part of many paths to victory on the national level.

So when Biden and Warren make gains in Florida and lead, while Harris and Buttigieg fall further behind, it makes a difference.

No category changes, but Sanders, Warren, and Biden are clearly improving, while Harris and Buttigieg (whose lines overlap) are moving in the opposite direction. In win chance terms, Harris and Buttigieg move from a 40% chance of winning Ohio, down to only 23%.

North Carolina is a key state. It is in the "swing state" zone for all five of these Democrats against Trump.

Sanders flipped from just barely winning, to barely losing in North Carolina.

That was the only category change, but both Biden and Buttigieg weakened considerably here. Looking at how this translates into win chances, Biden goes from a 91% chance of winning North Carolina to a 68% chance. Either way, still nicely favored, although certainly by less than before.

But Buttigieg drops from a 30% chance of winning down to only about 8%. Basically, from "OK, he's behind but has a shot" to "Yeah, not impossible, but it would be a major upset if he pulled off a win."

Every Democrat improves in Virginia. The state is still significantly under polled. So far, each update makes it look bluer as real 2020 polls replace old elections in the averages.

Biden's lead moves from "strong" to "solid" in my categorization.

Sanders' and Warren's leads both improve from "weak" to "strong" in the categories.

All the polled Democrats increased their leads over the historical average margin. Washington is a blue state that is getting bluer. It is not in contention right now.

In Arizona, Warren improves a little bit against Trump, but every other combination is flat.

All of the Democrats have significant leads in Minnesota, and the new polling just increased the margins for those polled. Minnesota is not currently in play.

With this last update, Wisconsin moved from Weak Biden to Strong Biden, and from Strong Sanders to Weak Sanders.

But the most significant change was for Buttigieg, whose 4.2% lead (85% chance of winning) dropped to a 1.0% lead (56% chance of winning).

Iowa is a swing state for all candidate combinations. But with this last update, Sanders and Warren both weakened, with Sanders moving from slightly ahead to slightly behind. Biden strengthened, moving from just slightly behind to just slightly ahead. Warren drops to only a 14% chance of winning the state.

The worst Democrat in Maine (Biden) still has a 99.2% chance of winning the state. Maine (CD2) might come into play again, but Maine as a whole doesn't look like it will.

That's all the states.

Now to wrap things up by looking at the changes on the categorization view. I prefer the probabilistic view these days, but just looking at who leads where and by how much is still useful.

The expected case changes:

  • Biden vs. Trump: Biden +242 to Biden +254
  • Sanders vs. Trump: Sanders +232 to Sanders +190
  • Warren vs. Trump: Trump +20 to Warren +38

And the tipping point changes were:

  • Biden vs. Trump: Biden by 4.4% in WI to Biden by 5.3% in PA
  • Sanders vs. Trump: Sanders by 4.3% in VA -> Sanders by 4.7% in VA
  • Warren vs. Trump: Trump by 0.1% in NC to Warren by 0.3% in FL

A reminder that sometimes the "median case" in the probabilistic view can have a different leader than the "expected case" in the categorization view.

Divergence like this occurs when there are states that the leader barely leads, and there is a better chance of enough of them to make a difference flipping than there is of states flipping the other direction.

One final categorization comparison to show the three tiers of Democratic candidates against Trump that I mentioned at the start of the post. Time to look at the "spectrum of the states" for the five Democrats against Trump and compare what they look like:

The Democrats that are winning decisively:

The Democrat who is leading, but narrowly:

The Democrats whose chances are a coin toss:

And that is where we are.

367.7 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.