Back To The Normal Zone

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let's take a quick look:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let's do the comparison to 2016 now:

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

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

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

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

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

And that is it for today. More soon.

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

We are almost at the end!

For more information:

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

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

The Race Tightens? Or Not?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wow. This is a big change.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

538's Nate Silver tweeted this earlier today:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anyway, that is the big story of the week.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finally, time for the 2016 comparison:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We shall see.

Finally, the map as it stands right now:

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

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

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

But first, the usual closing with the countdown:

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

We are in the home stretch. Almost there now!

For more information:

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

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

Trump Collapse? Or Not?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OK, now for the parade of graphs…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So let's look at the odds charts.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finally, let's do the 2016 comparison.

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

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

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

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

So once again, sorry!

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

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

Here we go…

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

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

But let's look at the tipping point comparison:

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

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

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

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

Embedding the most recent XKCD because it is directly relevant:

XKCD Prediction

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

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

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

We shall see.

Finally, the map as it stands right now:

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

But first, the usual closing with the countdown:

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

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

For more information:

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

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

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.

How Strong is Biden's Lead?

Time 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.

The last update here was 12 days ago on September 5th. Here are the high-level changes since that last post:

Model Metric 5 Sep 17 Sep 𝚫
Probabilities Trump 2σ
Median
Biden 2σ
Biden +38
Biden +152
Biden +254
Biden +44
Biden +152
Biden +256
Biden +6
FLAT
Biden +2
Trump Win
Tie
Biden Win
0.2%
0.1%
99.7%
0.1%
0.0%
99.9%
-0.1%
-0.1%
+0.2%
Categories Trump Best
Expected
Biden Best
TIED
Biden +220
Biden +288
Biden +6
Biden +240
Biden +288
Biden +6
Biden +20
FLAT
Tipping Point Biden +3.3% Biden +5.6% Biden +2.3%

This week's TL;DR: Biden is still significantly ahead. All metrics are equal to or better for Biden than when we did our last update. Most importantly, Biden's tipping point has moved from 3.3% up to 5.6%. This shows that it isn't just a bunch of states that are just barely Biden giving him his electoral college margin, but that instead, he has pretty substantial leads in all of the states he needs to win.

Five states had a net change in or out of "Weak Biden" and "Weak Trump" in these 10 days, so let's look at those first:

At our last update, Biden's lead in Pennsylvania had slipped below 5% into our "weak" category. It didn't last long. The next wave of polls was good for Biden, and his lead is now up to 5.6%, which translates into a 93.2% chance of winning the state.

In our last update, Georgia had slipped just barely to the Trump side of the centerline. Now it is just barely on the Biden side. Right now our average has Biden with a 0.1% lead. But this is in the zone where based on our analysis of Election Graphs results from 2008 to 2016 we actually give Trump slightly better odds of winning the state anyway. At an 0.1% Democratic lead, we have Biden at 46.8% to win, compared to Trump at 53.2%.

But really, that is close enough to 50/50 to call it a coin toss at the moment.

In our last update, Biden had gotten a bunch of really good Arizona polls, and he strengthened into our "Strong Biden" category. More recent polls revert to the more normal pattern, with Biden having a lead in Arizona, but a small one. That lead is currently 3.8%, which corresponds into a 82.9% chance of winning the state if the election was today.

Could we please have some more Iowa polls? For such a close state, it is surprisingly lightly polled. The five poll average currently goes back 1.6 months. A lot happens in 1.6 months.

Anyway, the average at the moment is a dead tie. (Well, looking at the unrounded numbers, Trump leads by 0.033%, but really, that is a tie.) But again, the historical analysis of our poll averages show the polls slightly overestimating Democratic support, so that margin still means a 54.2% chance of a Trump win.

Like Georgia though, Iowa is a complete tossup at the moment. If I really had to guess though, I'd guess that the one poll showing Biden ahead by 6% is an outlier, and when it rolls off of our average, Iowa will be on the Trump side of the fence. (But still not by much.)

Nevada also has had criminally few polls. The average had moved over the 5% Biden lead line for a little bit but is now down to 4.8%. That's still a 90% chance of a Biden win.

Between these five states, you explain the 20 EV movement toward Biden in the expected case, and the 6 EV movement toward Biden in Trump's best case.

In our categorization view, this once again ends up putting Trump's best case as a narrow loss. In other words, he can win all of the states that he leads, plus all of the states where he is behind by less than 5%, and he still loses. To win, Trump needs to win all of those states… plus Pennsylvania, where he is currently down by 5.6%.

In addition to the states above, North Carolina, Minnesota, and Maine's 2nd congressional district also crossed lines between weak categories, but they crossed back again for no net change.

When we start looking at our probabilistic model, any changes in the numbers matter though, not just those that shift categories. So a quick look at the rest of the "close" electoral votes:

Putting all of this together into our probabilistic model, you get this trend:

Our last update was right about the "Early Voting Begins" line. (Yes, people are already voting in Election 2020!) Our probabilistic envelopes show a very slight movement toward Biden, but things have been pretty stable. There are no big swings here.

In the categorization view, we have a few states that are bopping around near our category boundaries, and the all or nothing nature of that model means that the numbers can move a lot when a big state changes categories. But here the fact that Biden leading a state by 0.1% and Trump leading it by 0.1% really is not that much of a difference, so things are smoothed out a bit.

And we see…  stasis. This view of the race has barely moved.

This view looks at the range of electoral college results we should expect though. Our tipping point by contrast essentially looks at how easily that could change.

At our last update, we noted that Biden's tipping point had cratered, going from 6.5% on August 18th to only 3.3% on September 5th. As more polls came in, the 3.3% peak was actually erased. We now have Biden's low point at a 4.0% tipping point, after which he recovered to 5.6%.

3.3% is low enough you are within range of a big news event or systematic polling error erasing that lead. At 5.6%, things are a lot more secure.

But still not completely so. You only have to look at the two week period in June when Biden went from 2.1% to 7.3%. If you had a reversal of the same magnitude, Biden's tipping point lead would only be an extremely narrow 0.4%. But still, things look a lot more solid at 5.6%.

The RCP average of national polls currently shows a 5.9% Biden lead. Comparing to the 5.6% tipping point, this implies that the structure of the electoral college is currently giving Trump only a 0.3% head start, way down from 3.7% in the last update.

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

There are still LOTS of close states.

The last few updates, I've done a 2016 to 2020 comparison that looks like this:

<48 Days Out> 2016 2020
Expected Case Clinton by 130 Biden by 240
Tipping Point Clinton by 1.6% Biden by 5.6%

This time I can do better, with two new graphs that have been added to the main 2020 page:

This directly compares the evolution of the expected case metric in 2020 vs 2016. Biden has not always been doing better than Clinton. It has gone back and forth.

But at the moment Biden's Expected Case is better than Clinton EVER was able to reach, not just in the time frame shown above, but looking at the entire history of 2016 polling. The best she ever achieved was a 188 electoral vote margin, which she hit twice on the graph above.

Biden is currently at 240. If that holds, it would be the biggest electoral college winning margin since Bush crushed Dukakis with a 315 electoral vote margin in 1988.

But let's look at the tipping point comparison:

Biden is ahead of where Clinton was at this time in 2016. But this time in 2016 was one of Clinton's low points. She bounced back over the next couple of weeks. When we got to 31 days before the election her tipping point had rebounded all the way to 6.0%. That is a stronger lead than Biden has today.

But of course, over those last 30 days, you can clearly see Clinton's lead deteriorate. By the time you got to election day, it was 1.6%, which as we saw, was small enough that a little polling error in the states near the tipping point, plus some movement that happened too late for polls to capture, was enough for Trump to win.

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.

The closer we get to election day, the harder this is. Just because there is less time to change people's minds. Especially since early voting has already started, and will be in full swing for the entire last month.

There were "October Surprises" that made a difference in 2016. We will see soon enough if there are similarly large and impactful events in 2020.

The map below is where things stand today. But it will surely change. Stay tuned!

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

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.

Mixed Messages

Time 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.

The last update here was 10 days ago on August 25th. If you didn't notice it at the time, please check that last post for a CORRECTION I added on the 26th. The fixes mentioned on that correction are the baseline used here, rather than the originally posted numbers.

Here are the high-level changes since that last post:

Model Metric 25 Aug 5 Sep 𝚫
Categories Trump Best
Expected
Biden Best
Biden +6
Biden +146
Biden +288
TIED
Biden +220
Biden +288
Trump +6
Biden +74
FLAT
Tipping Point Biden +6.0% Biden +3.3% Trump +2.7%
Probabilities Trump 2σ
Median
Biden 2σ
Biden +50
Biden +148
Biden +258
Biden +38
Biden +152
Biden +254
Trump +12
Biden +4
Trump +4
Trump Win
Tie
Biden Win
0.1%
0.0%
99.9%
0.2%
0.1%
99.7%
+0.1%
+0.1%
-0.2%

This week's TL;DR: Biden is still significantly ahead, and if he wins every state where he leads the polls, he wins by a larger margin than before. However, he is has weakened in a lot of the close states, meaning Trump has more possible paths to a comeback than he did before, and Biden's lead is more precarious than it was.

A bunch of states moved in and out of "Weak Biden" and "Weak Trump" in these 10 days, so let's look at those first:

First up, Texas. The big one. The average in Texas has once again moved from just barely Trump, to just barely Biden. Biden now holds a thin 0.8% lead in our average. In terms of probabilities, we have it 54.2% Biden, 45.8% Trump. If the election was today.

Then Pennsylvania. Biden had been looking pretty strong there, with a lead as high as 7.0% as recently as August 25th. But Trump has gained since then, and Biden's lead here has slipped to only 3.3%, which translates into a 79.4% chance of winning. But Trump winning Pennsylvania is back on the table as a reasonable possibility.


Georgia is perpetually close, and once again crosses the centerline, this time moving from Biden to Trump. Election Graphs now has Trump leading by 1.5%, which is a 71.6% chance of a Trump victory.


Meanwhile, North Carolina goes the other way. After only a very short time on the Trump side, North Carolina is back to "Weak Biden", which is where it has been for most of the last few months. We have Biden up by 1.4%, which is a 63.3% chance of a Biden win.


Biden's lead in Arizona increases, moving it to the "Strong Biden" category. Biden now leads there by 5.7% in our average, which is a 93.5% chance of winning.


There have not been many Nevada polls. We have to go back almost 10 months to get the five polls for our average. But with the latest poll, Biden's lead jumps to 5.4% or a 92.5% chance of winning the state.

Texas, Georgia, and North Carolina crossed the center line. Texas (38 EV) and North Carolina (15 EV) moved toward Biden, while Georgia (16 EV) moved toward Trump. That is a net movement of 37 EV toward Trump, or a 74 EV increase in Biden's expected margin.

Pennsylvania, Arizona, and Nevada on the other hand, impacted what we call Trump's "Best Case". That would be where he wins every single state that he leads our averages, plus every state where he is behind by less than 5%. Pennsylvania (20 EV) moved toward Trump, while Arizona (11 EV) and Nevada (6 EV) moved toward Biden, for a net improvement for Trump of 3 EV, or 6 EV of net margin.

In our categorization view, this ends up putting Trump's best case at an actual 269-269 tie, which would throw the election into the House of Representatives. To get to that Trump would need to win all that states he is ahead in, all five states where Biden is ahead by less than 5%, and also both Maine's 2nd congressional district and Nebraska's 2nd congressional district. But if that happened… tie.

As always though, we want to look beyond the simple categorization of states based on the averages. So a few more states to look at.

In addition to the states above that changed categories and stayed there, there were three additional states that moved in or out of "Weak Biden" and "Weak Trump", but then moved back again, leaving no net category change in the last 10 days, even though the actual average moved around a bit. In some cases, you can't even see the category change in the charts anymore, because the timing of the polls actually erased the change. But here they are anyway:

And finally, the locations with margins under 5% that didn't change categories at all this time around:

Putting all of this together into our probabilistic model, you get this trend:

Looking at the center median line, we can see a move toward Biden as the Democratic Convention happened, with that leveling off, then a move back toward Trump again starting as the Republican convention was going on. As of right now, Biden is a little bit better off in this view than he was right before the conventions started.

Basically though, we been in the same sort of range since the bigger movement toward Biden in June. The median has not left the Biden by 134 to Biden by 180 zone since the end of June.

We HAVE, on the other hand, seen the upper end of these probabilistic bands increase. These are the lines showing the best scenarios for Trump. They bounce around a lot but have generally been creeping upward since the end of June.

This basically indicates a pattern where Biden's electoral college lead has been pretty steady but has been getting more precarious, as leads in a variety of states diminish.

The simulations now have Biden at a 99.7% to win to Trump's 0.2%. The remaining 0.1% is that 269-269 tie possibility.

This is if the election was today of course, and the election is not today. I mentioned that the increases in the upper end of Trump's range indicate that perhaps Biden's lead is a little less solid than the margins would imply. This brings us to the tipping point:

Biden's tipping point has cratered since the conventions began, going from 6.5% on August 18th to only 3.3% now.

If Biden wins every state he leads, he wins by a very impressive 379 electoral votes to Trump's 159. That is a 220 EV margin. That would be a larger electoral college margin victory than any election since Clinton's defeat of Dole in 1996 with exactly that margin.

But Biden's margin in Pennsylvania, the state that currently puts him over the edge, is only 3.3%. You only need that small movement in the "Weak Biden" states to flip the election. Or a polling error of that magnitude.

In June we saw the tipping point move 5% in two weeks. We have just under two months left until the election.

(OK, if you look closely, you'll notice a 3.3% move would only get us to that 269-269 tie, it would currently take a 5.3% move to actually also flip Minnesota and have an outright Trump win, but the point stands…)

The RCP average of national polls currently shows a 7.0% Biden lead. Comparing to the 3.3% tipping point, this implies that the structure of the electoral college is currently giving Trump a 3.7% head start, up significantly from 1.6% in the last update. Like 2016 and 2000, the situation where Trump loses the popular vote but wins the electoral college is a live possibility.

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


To win, Trump needs all the close states. But all of those states are VERY close. It isn't that big of a stretch from where things are right now.

Now comparing to this time in 2016:

<59 Days Out> 2016 2020
Expected Case Clinton by 5 Biden by 220
Tipping Point Clinton by 0.9% Biden by 3.3%

This point in 2016 was Clinton's late-summer low point, before surging back to a strong lead in October, which then of course completely slipped away in the last month.

The best Clinton saw in the Expected Case in the last 59 days was a 154 electoral vote margin in October. Biden is a lot stronger than that at the moment.

Clinton's best Tipping Point in the last 59 days was 6.0% in early October though. Biden was stronger than that in mid-August, but he isn't anymore.

People argue that the presidential race is much more stable this year than it was in 2016. There are fewer undecided people. And both candidates have less "soft" support that can easily slip away. This does seem to be true. So maybe the chances of a lot of movement are less than there were.

But the amount of movement you need to change the outcome right now isn't all that large.

The map below is where things stand today. Keep watching!

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

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.

Reversion to the Mean?

Correction 2020-08-26 06:03 UTC: 

As it turns out, a bug I've been fighting on the site that causes data to sometimes be randomly corrupted until I notice and fix it popped up with perfect timing for me to include some bad data in the blog post below.

Specifically, only the probabilistic view was impacted this time… it had bogus numbers for Arizona, which threw everything else off. Despite a couple of warning signs, I didn't see the problem until well after the post below. Oops.

The right numbers as of when this post was made should have been:

  • Trump 2σ: Biden +50
  • Median: Biden +148
  • Biden 2σ: Biden +258

This would have made the deltas: Trump +2, Trump +4, and Trump +2, respectively. Still movement toward Trump on those metrics, but significantly less than indicated below. And Biden's win odds should have remained flat at 99.9%.

The graph for the probabilistic model trend is of course also off because of the same issue.

Apologies for the error. I'm crossing my fingers that I have finally squashed this bug, or at least that I will notice and fix specific errors before making posts that include them. Thanks for understanding:

Original post from 2020-08-25 06:51 UTC:

Time 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.

The last update here was 8 days ago on August 17th.

Here are the high-level changes since then:

Model Metric 17 Aug 25 Aug 𝚫
Categories Trump Best
Expected
Biden Best
Biden +6
Biden +182
Biden +288
Biden +6
Biden +146
Biden +288
FLAT
Trump +36
FLAT
Tipping Point Biden +5.9 Biden +6.0% Biden +0.1%
Probabilities Trump 2σ
Median
Biden 2σ
Biden +52
Biden +152
Biden +260
Biden +32
Biden +128
Biden +238
Trump +20
Trump +24
Trump +22
Trump Win
Tie
Biden Win
0.1%
0.0%
99.9%
0.2%
0.1%
99.7%
+0.1%
+0.1%
-0.2%

This week's TL;DR: While Biden is still significantly ahead, and his tipping point even improves slightly, Trump is losing by a smaller margin than he was last week.

There was only one significant category change this week. It was Ohio:

Ohio had moved into "Weak Biden" territory in mid-July. But this week it moves back to "Weak Trump".

Either way, the state is close. This move is from just barely Biden, to just barely Trump. It is really too close to call.

Trump's lead in the average is currently 0.2%. Given the historical results on Election Graphs averages from 2008 to 2016, that translates into a 56.1% chance of a Trump win and a 43.9% chance of a Biden win.

But the categorization view of things doesn't care about that. It just shows Ohio's 18 electoral votes moving from the Biden column to the Trump column, which means Biden's expected margin drops 36 EV from 182 to 146.

The change in the expected case can be seen above. After a peak for Biden in July, the expected case is back in the range it has usually been in over the last 6 months.

Before we look at the probabilistic views, here are the no-commentary views of all of the other close states (and congressional districts that give electoral votes):

Putting all of this together into our probabilistic model, you get this trend:

Looking at the center median line, where half the simulated election results were better for Biden, and half were better for Trump, Biden's most recent peak was a 180 electoral vote margin on July 31st. Biden's lead in that case is now down to only a 128 EV margin. This is down another 24 from last week.

Clearly the recent movement has been in Trump's favor. Biden's lead is still substantial though. And unlike the categorization view, it is still stronger than it was in the spring. But Trump has clearly bounced back from his July lows.

Other averages, such as Trump's approval ratings, or Trump vs Biden national polling have followed similar patterns. Namely, after a low point for Trump in June or July, the averages have reverted to more typical numbers.

As the campaigns go into high gear, the question is if the race will stay within the basic range we have seen so far this year, or if one or the other of the candidates will be able to break out.

My simulations still have Biden at a 99.7% chance to win if the election was today. (The election is not today.)

This is a very asymmetric situation. Trump needs to move things significantly in his direction to win. Biden just needs to hold his current lead. If Biden actually improves his situation, it doesn't change the outcome, it just increases Biden's margin.

Biden's tipping point lead is now 6.0%. This number represents how much polls would have to change nationally to flip the winner if the change was uniform across all states.

The RCP average of national polls is currently at a 7.6% Biden lead. This implies that the structure of the electoral college is currently giving Trump a 1.6% head start, which is unchanged from last week.

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

As was the case last week, in order to win Trump needs to win ALL of the close states… plus Pennsylvania.

Now comparing to this time in 2016:

<71 Days Out> 2016 2020
Expected Case Clinton by 144 Biden by 146
Tipping Point Clinton by 3.4% Biden by 6.0%

Biden is doing very slightly better than Clinton was in the "Expected Case" 71 days before the election but is doing considerably better with the tipping point.

The best Clinton saw in the Expected Case in the last 71 days was a 154 electoral vote margin in October. Biden is currently weaker than that.

Clinton's best Tipping Point in the last 71 days was 6.0% though. Biden currently matches that. But it is key to remember that Clinton's 6.0% tipping point maximum was in October, and it completely evaporated in the last month before the election.

Things can and do change based on breaking news. Biden is way ahead at the moment. If the election was today, Biden would almost certainly win.

But there are 70.7 days left to go.

The map below is where things stand today, but there WILL be more ups and downs before the end. Keep watching!

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.

Summer Doldrums

Time for another update for the blog. 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.

The last blog update was 8 days ago on August 9th.

Here are the high-level changes since then:

Model Metric 9 Aug 17 Aug 𝚫
Categories Trump Best
Expected
Biden Best
Trump +34
Biden +180
Biden +288
Biden +6
Biden +182
Biden +288
Biden +40
Biden +2
FLAT
Tipping Point Biden +4.2 Biden +5.9% Biden +1.7%
Probabilities Trump 2σ
Median
Biden 2σ
Biden +50
Biden +154
Biden +264
Biden +52
Biden +152
Biden +260
Biden +2
Trump +2
Trump +4
Trump Win
Tie
Biden Win
0.1%
0.0%
99.9%
0.1%
0.0%
99.9%
FLAT
FLAT
FLAT

The bottom line here is there is not much net change. If you had to pick a winner, Biden is a bit better off than when we made our last post. But really, things haven't moved all that much.

Let's start with the states that actually moved in or out of the "Weak Biden" and "Weak Trump" categories in our categorization view.

There were three:

After a brief foray into "Weak Biden" territory, Biden's lead in Pennsylvania increased once again to over 5%, moving the state to our "Strong Biden" category, and removing winning Pennsylvania from what we call Trump's "best case".

With this Trump's best case margin drops 40 electoral votes from a 34 electoral vote win to a 6 electoral vote loss.

As of our last update, Georgia had moved from just barely Biden to just barely Trump. It didn't last long. Georgia is now once again just barely Biden. "Just barely" is critical here of course. It is really just too close to call.

North Carolina had been in the "Weak Biden" category since June, but Trump has led the latest batch of polls and thus has pulled North Carolina back to his side of the line. Narrowly. Once again, the truth is the state is too close to call.

With the Georgia move, Biden's margin increased by 32 electoral votes. But the North Carolina move took away 30 of that. So the net change is a 2 electoral vote improvement for Biden in the "expected case" where every candidate wins exactly the list of states they lead in the Election Graphs averages.

The change in the expected case and in Trump's best case can be seen in the chart above.

Before we look at the probabilistic views, here is a quick no-commentary rundown of all of the other close states (and congressional districts that give electoral votes):

Putting all of this together into our probabilistic model, you get this trend:

Looking at the center median line, where half the simulated election results were better for Biden, and half were better for Trump, Biden's most recent peak was a 180 electoral vote margin on July 31st. Since then he has slipped down to a 152 electoral vote margin. So the recent movement has been against Biden.

Maybe this trend will continue. Or maybe things will bounce back in Biden's direction again. In this view, it now looks like things have been staying within a fairly narrow band since the end of June. But we're now at the upper end of that band. Trump may break out.

Conventional wisdom is that there are "convention bounces". And we are about to enter two weeks of political conventions. But this year the conventions are essentially back to back. So if there are such bounces, the Trump bounce may just cancel out the Biden bounce too quickly to even be measured reliably in state-level views such as we have on Election Graphs.

The conventions do however tend to be the point at which both campaigns go into overdrive and non-political folks finally start paying attention to the race. So it would not be surprising to have significant events that move the needle.

As usual, we'll just have to wait and see.

My simulations still have Biden at a 99.9% chance to win. This graph has been quite boring for some time now because Biden has the blue pegged up against the 100% line.

As always, the important caveat that this is if the election was today, which it is not.

There is time for this to change. So how secure is the Biden lead?

Biden's tipping point lead had dropped down to 4.6%, but it has rebounded to 5.9%. This number basically represents how much polls would have to change nationally to flip the winner if the change was uniform across all states.

By comparison, the RCP average of national polls is currently at a 7.5% Biden lead. So it would take a 7.5% move for Trump to win the popular vote, but only a 5.9% move for Trump to win the electoral college. This implies that the structure of the electoral college is currently giving Trump a 1.6% head start.

It is tempting to concentrate on the states that are currently closest. At the moment that would be Iowa, Maine CD2, North Carolina, Ohio, and Texas. But at the moment if Biden won those states it would just be gravy on top of a win that had already been secured. And if Trump won those states, it would not be enough to win the election.

The battle for winning the election is around the tipping point. You want to be as far ahead as possible in the states near the tipping point. That is how you secure the win, and that is generally where most efforts should be concentrated.

Right now, Pennsylvania is the tipping point. Adding in the two states on either side, you bring in Michigan, Wisconsin, Nevada, and Florida.

This is part of why you see tons of polls in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin even though none of those are particularly close at the moment. And of course, Florida, since it is not that far off from the tipping point, AND it is close at the moment.

It does not however explain why there have only been five polls in Nevada in the LAST YEAR. Come on people! Can we get some polls in Nevada?

Anyway… you can see how the tipping point fits in with all the other states in the current spectrum of the states in contention:

So yeah. As with 2016, watching Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania makes sense.

Arizona? Georgia? Ohio? Iowa? North Carolina? Texas?

Those are "stretch goals" for Biden. Great as a bonus, but he needs to concentrate on the bread and butter first.

By contrast, Trump NEEDS all those states… plus some. At the moment Trump can once again win ALL of the close states and still fall slightly short. He needs to also bring Pennsylvania back into the fold to win.

How do the metrics compare to where things were at this time in 2016?

<79 Days Out> 2016 2020
Expected Case Clinton by 86 Biden by 182
Tipping Point Clinton by 3.0% Biden by 5.9%

By both metrics, Biden is doing significantly better than Clinton was at the same point in the race four years ago.

The best Clinton saw in the Expected Case in the last 79 days was a 178 electoral vote margin near the end of August. Biden is slightly ahead of that mark as well.

Clinton's best Tipping Point in the last 79 days was 6.0% though, which she didn't hit until October. Biden is below that level, and that 6.0% tipping point lead disappeared in less than a month in 2016.

So that serves as the usual warning of how quickly things can change.

Finally, the current map:

78.7 days until polls start to close on election night, and the conventions are about to begin. The race is about to go into overdrive. Buckle up!

For more information:

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

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

Trump Narrows The Gap

I am overdue for another update. The 2020 pages on Election Graphs are updated nearly every day as new polls come in. So you can always see the current status there for yourself in between these posts. But here comes another blog post…

Since the last update on July 24th, there have been new state polls in Pennsylvania (x8), Arizona (x7), Florida (x7), Michigan (x10), Ohio (x5), North Carolina (x9), South Carolina (x4), Minnesota (x5), Colorado (x3), Georgia (x5), Texas (x4), Virginia (x3), Wisconsin (x9), New Jersey, Massachusetts, Alaska, Iowa (x5), Maine All (x4), Montana (x2), Maine CD1 (x2), Maine CD2 (x2), Washington, New Hampshire (x3), California, Alabama, Kentucky (x4), Hawaii, Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, and Kansas.

That's 31 out of the 56 entities that allocate electoral votes in only 16 days. That's more than half. Given that, I'm going to stop calling out the states with polls each update. In short, the answer from now until the election is always going to be "a lot of them", and "multiple polls for all the close states".

It has been 16 days, how much has changed?

First the summary table of changes:

Model Metric 24 Jul 9 Aug 𝚫
Categories Trump Best
Expected
Biden Best
Biden +36
Biden +168
Biden +288
Trump +34
Biden +180
Biden +288
Trump +70
Biden +12
FLAT
Tipping Point Biden +6.5 Biden +4.2% Trump +2.3%
Probabilities Trump 2σ
Median
Biden 2σ
Biden +80
Biden +168
Biden +272
Biden +50
Biden +154
Biden +264
Trump +30
Trump +14
Trump +8
Trump Win
Tie
Biden Win
0.0%
0.0%
100.0%
0.1%
0.0%
99.9%
+0.1%
FLAT
-0.1%

So compared to 16 days ago, what is the TL;DR summary?

Biden still leads by a large margin and actually improves his margin in the "everybody wins every state where they lead the average" expected case metric, but overall Trump has managed to reduce Biden's margin in a number of states, thus increasing the likelihood he might steal those states back and strengthening his position. And if he managed to flip ALL the close states, he could once again pull off a narrow win.

Now some of the charts, starting with the categorization view:

We can see that while Biden improved his expected case, Trump's best case has improved significantly.

So which specific states changed?

First, it was Iowa that moved from barely Trump to barely Biden, improving Biden's margin in the case where each candidate wins every state where they lead the average. But Biden leads Iowa by only 0.2%. And it looks pretty likely that the lead is due to a single outlier poll that showed a 6% Biden lead. So far no other polls indicate a Biden lead of that magnitude. So it would not be surprising at all to see Iowa slip back to the Trump side with the next poll, or at least when that outlier slips out of the average.

But then there is Florida. Biden's substantial lead in Florida has slipped significantly. He still leads, but no longer by huge margins. In our average Biden now only leads Florida by 3.0%. If the election was today, we estimate that translates into a 73.8% chance that Biden would win the state. But we actually have 86 days until the election, and there is plenty of room for this to move further.

The substantial swings here over June and July indicate that as polarized as things tend to be these days, there is still a non-trivial group of voters who have shown they can change their minds over time. In this case, they moved away from Trump for a while, but seem to be coming home again, once again putting Florida within Trump's reach.

Much the same pattern has played out in Pennsylvania. Biden built a substantial lead in June, but over the course of July, it faded quite a bit. Biden still leads Trump by 4.2% in Pennsylvania, translating into an 84.9% chance of winning the state in our model if the election was today. But that is significantly less certain than the 98.8% we had at Biden's peak.

Given Florida's 29 electoral votes and Pennsylvania's 20 electoral votes, together these states can change the margin by a massive 98 electoral votes.

Having these two states close enough to be in play is critical to Trump. At the moment, he is still behind, but close enough that it is easy to imagine scenarios where Trump could come back from behind and win them.

Not all of the movement was bad for Biden.

In Wisconsin, at the time of the last update, Wisconsin had flipped from "Strong Biden" down to "Weak Biden". But that didn't last long, and Wisconsin is once again a strong enough Biden state that we don't include it in Trump's best case. (At an 8.6% lead, our odds estimate is a 99.1% chance of a Biden win if the election was today.)

New Hampshire also moves out of Trump's reach with Biden leading the average by 7.8%, which would be a 98.6% chance of a win if the election was today.

But Wisconsin and New Hampshire are only 14 electoral votes, compared to 49 electoral votes for Florida and Pennsylvania. So the net change is 35 electoral votes in reach for Trump that were not when we did the last blog post, meaning a 70 electoral vote increase in Trump's best case.

So, now to dash through the "weak" states that are in play that didn't switch broad categories this time around, in order by  the number of electoral votes:

When you mash all of these movements together into our probabilistic model that doesn't just say that since one candidate is ahead in a state they are going to win it, but instead simulates many possible election results recognizing that close states can go either way, you get these trends:

Roughly speaking, the darker the color, the more likely the final margin will be in that range.

Looking at the center median line, where half the simulated election results were better for Biden, and half were better for Trump, Biden's most recent peak was a 180 electoral vote margin on July 17th. Since then he has slipped down to a 154 electoral vote margin.

All of the other bands have moved toward Trump as well, each to a differing degree. The moves aren't as dramatic as the categorization view shows, but there has been a steady deterioration for Biden since that peak.

June and the first half of July were a constant stream of bad news for Trump, and his position in election polls reflected that. Since then things have slowly been moving back in his direction.

To be absolutely clear, Biden still has a huge advantage. But less so than he did a few weeks ago.

It is still too small to see directly on the chart, but Biden's chances of winning when we did our last update rounded to 100.0% (it was actually 99.9931% in our simulation), and now they round to 99.9% (it is actually 99.9265% in our current simulation).

So that is still substantial, even if it is less than it was.

But that is if the election was today.

How vulnerable is that lead?

Biden's tipping point lead peaked at 7.3%. It is down to 4.2%. That's a 3.1% decline in a little over a month. If that trend continued, in another month Biden would still have a lead, but it would be quite tenuous.

That is not a prediction. It seems more likely that if Biden's spike in June was just an aberration and things are returning to the mean, that the tipping point will settle out between a 2% and 4% Biden lead.

But that is the level of lead that might just be a systematic polling error. Or that could be erased by a major event in the last few days of the campaign, too late to be measured by the polls.

So how does this look compared to 2016?

<86 Days Out> 2016 2020
Expected Case Clinton by 164 Biden by 180
Tipping Point Clinton by 6.0% Biden by 4.2%

So Biden is ahead of Clinton at this same point in time in terms of expected margins if all the states fell where their polls indicated. But Clinton's lead was actually a bit more secure than Biden's is right now, and of course, it slipped away before the end.

If the election was today, Biden would almost certainly win. But his lead is somewhat precarious. If 2% or 3% of people change their minds from Biden to Trump in a few critical states, Trump takes the lead.

Now the spectrum of battleground states :

Here is what it looked like in our last update:

And here it is today:

Out of the close ("weak") states, Biden only has to hold Arizona and Pennsylvania. He can afford to lose all the rest and still win.

But we're once again in a position where with a sweep of all the close states, Trump could win.

Finally, the current map:

86.0 days until polls start to close on election night. Stay tuned!

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.

Biden Plateau?

It has been too long since my last update. Oops.

Given that, I'll start with a reminder that while I only do these blog posts occasionally, the 2020 pages on Election Graphs are updated nearly every day as new polls come in. So you can always see the current status there for yourself.

In any case, since the last update on July 1st, there have been new state polls in Arizona (x9), Florida (x7), Michigan (x7), North Carolina (x6), Pennsylvania (x7), Wisconsin (x4), Colorado, Montana (x4), Texas (x7), Maine, Alaska (x2), Alabama, Iowa (x2), Georgia (x4), Missouri, Nebraska CD2, Kentucky (x4), South Carolina, Ohio, and Minnesota.

Yeah. Like I said. Too long since the last update.

Last time around, Trump was collapsing. Over three weeks later, where are we now?

As usual, let's start with the summary table of changes, then get into the graphs:

Model Metric 1 Jul 24 Jul 𝚫
Categories Trump Best
Expected
Biden Best
Biden +56
Biden +162
Biden +288
Biden +36
Biden +168
Biden +288
Trump +20
Biden +6
FLAT
Tipping Point Biden +7.3 Biden +6.5% Trump +0.8%
Probabilities Trump 2σ
Median
Biden 2σ
Biden +82
Biden +158
Biden +262
Biden +80
Biden +168
Biden +272
Trump +2
Biden +10
Biden +10
Trump Win
Tie
Biden Win
0.0%
0.0%
100.0%
0.0%
0.0%
100.0%
FLAT
FLAT
FLAT

So compared to 23 days ago, we've got a mixed bag. Some metrics move toward Trump, some move toward Biden.

If I had to characterize the whole thing at once, I'd say Biden has improved his "right now" position a bit, but it is slightly more precarious than it was, and movement has slowed. Things seem to have plateaued the last couple of weeks.

At least in the probabilistic view. The categorization view is more volatile.

For instance, this update would have looked significantly different a week ago in the categorization view. Things looked much better for Biden a week ago, but they have swung back since then.

You can see that clearly on the chart:

That giant dip in the expected cases is caused by Georgia, Texas, and Ohio all flipping from just barely Trump, to just barely Biden, but then Georgia and Texas flipping back again.

In the categorization view, the difference between "just barely Biden" and "just barely Trump" is massive, as the state immediately changes sides. But in reality, either way, you have a tossup situation.

The probabilistic view accounts for that, and we'll look at that view shortly.

But first, let's look first at all the states that moved in or out of our "Weak Trump" and "Weak Biden" categories since the last post.

In order from biggest to smallest:

Texas is, of course, a huge electoral vote prize. The hope of a blue Texas completely changing the political map is once again tantalizing Democrats as it seems like it could be in reach. Our polling average briefly dipped into the blue before reverting to the red side of the centerline.

The bottom line here at the moment is just that Texas is very much a battleground state. As of this update, in the Election Graphs averages, Texas is the closest state of them all, with Trump leading by only 0.3%.

Florida, on the other hand, is not a close state at the moment, even though it famously often has been. For a very brief moment in the last few weeks, Biden's lead in Florida fell below 5%. But then subsequent polls drove Biden to his biggest lead in Florida yet, with an 8.4% margin over Trump.

Ohio continues to be more sparsely polled than you would think it would be, so the average isn't as responsive to events. But with the latest poll, the average flips from the Trump side to the Biden side.

Either way, Ohio is a close state and very much in play.

Georgia is another super close state. Since the last blog post, Georgia has flipped from Biden to Trump, back to Biden, then back to Trump yet again as new polls came in.

Just looking at the states we have flagged as "super close" so far…  Texas, Ohio, and Georgia… tells you quite a lot about the race. If these three states are the close states, the Republican is in deep trouble.

After a lot of polls in June showing Biden with 10%+ leads in Michigan, more recent polls caused Biden to drop below a 5% lead in the average… for a little bit… before new polls showed Biden's lead increasing again.

Biden's lead is nowhere near as strong as it was in mid-June, but it is still a very strong lead.

Wisconsin exhibits a similar pattern. A big move toward Biden, which has subsequently receded, still leaving Biden with a lead, but a much less substantial one than he had.

In Wisconsin's case, at the moment, Biden's lead is still under 5%, which means we consider it to be a state that Trump could steal under the right conditions, so this movement is responsible for the 20 electoral vote improvement to Trump's best case margin.

Along with Maine, Nebraska is one of the two states that award some of their electoral votes by congressional district. Polls for the two congressional districts in Maine and the three in Nebraska tend to be rare. But we now have two for Nebraska's 2nd congressional district.

The five poll average still includes the 2008-2016 election results as a baseline as well as the two actual 2020 polls. But both of the new polls show a substantial Biden lead, which is enough to pull the district into "Weak Biden" territory for the moment. If future polls back up the first two, this may end up as a Strong Biden electoral vote before we are done.

In addition to the states above that changed categories, we have some intra-category movement with these close states:

There is a decent amount of range between the best polls for Biden and the best polls for Trump in North Carolina. The poll average itself has bounced around quite a bit too.

But, in the last year, aside from a short time in May, polling has consistently had North Carolina in the "Weak Biden" category, even when other states have been swinging dramatically in one direction or the other.

Arizona had a bit longer foray over to the Trump side from late January to early March, but since then, Biden has maintained a small but steady lead.

And finally, Iowa, which has been "Weak Trump" since December, but where Biden has been gaining on Trump since late April.

With all of these changes together, the probabilistic model produces a view that recognizes that "just barely Trump" and "just barely Biden" are both tossups, rather than immediately classifying a state on one side or the other. We run about a million simulations based on the current polling, and an analysis of the 2008-2016 polling average accuracy here on Election Graphs, and get this…

The big move toward Biden and back caused by Texas and Georgia is not evident here like it is in the categorization model.

Instead, in the median case, we see the rapid movement toward Biden in the first half of June, a slower movement toward Biden through about the July 4th holiday, and then things being stable since then. This is our plateau.

In addition, for the lines showing the top of our 2σ (95.45% chance) and 3σ (99.73% chance) probability bands, you can see Trump improving at the end of June, but losing most of that gain over the following few weeks. This represents Trump's temporary improvement in Weak Biden states, which then slipped away again.

In terms of Biden's chances of winning if the election was held today (which it is not!), the odds are still pegged at a number which rounds to 100%. But if you look at the unrounded number, it is 99.9931%, which is not quite as good as the 99.9977% in the last blog post.

The risk for Biden would not be in the odds if the election were held today. At the moment, Biden has a very strong lead, large enough that we wouldn't expect a different outcome due to systematic polling error or anything like that. No, the risk is that there are still 102 days until election results start coming in, and there is time for the situation to change.

Which brings us to the tipping point, which measures just how much things have to change to flip the winner.

Last time we noted the movement from Biden by 2.7% to Biden by 7.3% in less than two weeks. Since then, Trump improved in this metric to only losing to Biden by 4.8% in the tipping-point state but then slipped again, now losing by 6.5%.

The thing that this chart helps us remember is how fast things can change with the right events in the news. If Biden can gain 4.6% in two weeks, then given the right combination of events, he could lose 4.6% in a similar period. If that were to happen, he would only be ahead by 1.9% in the tipping point state… just barely better than the 1.6% lead Clinton had in the tipping point on Election Eve 2016, so clearly within the realm that things could go the other way.

But that isn't where things are today. Today Biden has a huge lead. The question is if he keeps it over the next 102 days.

As we have in the last couple of posts, let's make a quick comparison of where Biden is today and where Clinton was at the same point in 2016.

<102 Days Out> 2016 2020
Expected Case Clinton by 144 Biden by 168
Tipping Point Clinton by 2.8% Biden by 6.5%

Biden continues to be significantly stronger than Clinton was.

Now a quick look at the spectrum of states that are either actively in play, or could be if there is a significant movement toward one candidate or the other:

Here is what it looked like in our last update:

And here is how it looks today:

Fundamentally, while at the moment Biden can win without ANY of the close states, at the same time there are a LOT of "Weak Biden" states that are stealable by Trump with a relatively small move in the polls, so it wouldn't take a lot to change this picture dramatically.

Finally, the current map:

102.0 days until polls start to close on election night. Stay tuned!

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.