Good Polling Week For Democrats

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And that is where we are this week.

436.1 days until polls start to close.

For more information:

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

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

The 2020 Starting Line

Well, here we are. A few months later than I intended, but it is finally time to launch the Election Graphs coverage of Election 2020.

Before I start rolling in the state polls that have already come out, let's look at a more general Democratic vs Republican view based on the last few elections, just as I did four years ago.

Election Graphs uses a five poll average generally (with certain exceptions I won't get into here). When there have not yet been five polls, we use previous election results to "jump start" the poll averages.

The map above represents the average percentage margins (Republican-Democrat) over the last five election cycles. That would be 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016. This is a very long time period. Things look different in 2019 than they did in 2000.

You could argue that just using the 2016 results would be a better starting point, but averaging over a long time period like this to some degree gives us an impression of where states stand independent of the specifics of any one specific election.

Looking at specific states and where those averages are, you get this spectrum:

Specifically, let's zoom in and look at the states where the margin in this 5 cycle average is under 10%:

These are the states (and Maine and Nebraska congressional districts) that look like they are in play based on the historical results from 2000 to 2016.

Once we get close to the election, "Strong" states mostly will slip out of reach. (Although Wisconsin was a "Strong Clinton" state and Trump still managed to win it, so it CAN happen, it is just exceedingly rare.) This far out though, just under 612 days until the first election night polls close, this whole zone is potentially up for grabs.

If the right set of events happens, even someĀ states outside of this group may end up becoming competitive. Major changes do happen during presidential campaigns. But here at the beginning, it seems unlikely that any of the states (or CD's) outside of those above will be in play.

Things will move quickly as new polls putting actual candidates against each other get added. But this is the starting line.

Where does this put us in terms of who might be ahead or behind? Election Graphs traditionally not only shows an electoral college breakdown based on who is ahead in every state but also where things would end up if you let all of the "Weak" states swing to one or the other candidate to generate "Best Case" scenarios for each candidate.

Here is what that looks like at the starting line:

DEM REP Margin
REP Best 216 322 REP by 106 EV
Expected 272 266 DEM by 6 EV
DEM Best 332 206 DEM by 126 EV
The tipping point state is Iowa where DEM is ahead by 1.1%.

So… we start at essentially a dead heat. The average of the last five elections (three where Republicans won, and two where Democrats won), is a Democratic squeaker. When you throw the "Weak" states from side to side, you get a fairly large range as well.

That's as good a place to start a presidential race as any. Dead even.

Now the specific candidates for 2020 will start differentiating themselves with their campaigns, and they will move this to one side or another… or of course, we can arrive at the election itself with things still too close to call… which is always fun.

Before I close out this post and start adding in actual 2020 polls though, it is worth also looking at how this "five election average" has shifted over the years. I currently have elections back to 1980 entered into the data Election Graphs pulls from, so we can look at these averages back through 1996.

First up, here is the electoral college trend itself:

From 1996 through 2008, each election moved the electoral college results based on these averages toward the Democrats… even when the Republicans won… because they won by less than the Republicans from the earlier elections that dropped out of the average.

That stopped in 2012. Obama won in 2012, but not as strongly as Clinton won in 1992, which dropped off the five election average that year.

Then Trump won in 2016, which was obviously a more Republican result than Clinton winning in 1996.

2016 also reversed another trend, which was that the electoral college totals of the states that were closer than 5% had been going down with each election. In other words, there were fewer close states each time. But dropping 1996 and adding 2016 expanded the range between "best case" scenarios a bit. We have a wider playing field going into 2020 than we did going into 2016.

Next, the tipping point:

This basically shows the same pattern, so I won't spend time digging deeper there.

But there is one more place to spend a little time. Time to look at how each state moved from the 1996-2012 average to the 2000-2016 average.

Let's start this historical review with an animation of the national view flipping between how things looked four years ago, and how they look today:

As expected, since we are replacing Clinton's 1996 win with Trump's 2016 win, the overall map becomes redder and blue retreats.

Now let's look at individual states that moved to different Election Graphs categories ("Solid", "Strong", "Weak" for either party) in this change.

Of these category changes, only two favored the Democrats:

Every other category change was toward the Republicans:

All of the states moved of course. The ones highlighted here are just the ones that shifted between my categories. And of course, many of those were not decisive. But the shift toward the Republicans is clear.

The stage is set.

Next up, very soon, I'll start folding in the polls on specific candidate matchups that have already been released on the state level, and we'll see how things look once we are looking at real data on the 2020 race rather than just long term generic averages.

The race is on, and Election Graphs will be tracking it for you.

Here we go.