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.

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.

Trump Collapsing?

Since the last update on June 18th, there have been new state polls in Utah, Kentucky, New Hampshire, North Carolina (x5), Minnesota, Alabama, Michigan (x3), Wisconsin (x5), Texas (x2), Ohio, Pennsylvania (x3), Florida (x2), Arizona, Georgia (x2), Missouri, and New York.

In our last update, we noted that while national polls were moving rapidly against Trump, the story with state polls was more complicated.

Not this time. With very few exceptions, these polls have been bad for Trump. State polls have caught up with the national polls, and this time around we see a dramatic move away from Trump and toward Biden across metrics.

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

Model Metric 18 Jun 1 Jul 𝚫
Categories Trump Best
Expected
Biden Best
Trump +42
Biden +130
Biden +288
Biden +56
Biden +162
Biden +288
Biden +98
Biden +32
FLAT
Tipping Point Biden +4.8 Biden +7.3% Biden +2.5%
Probabilities Trump 2σ
Median
Biden 2σ
Biden +32
Biden +132
Biden +242
Biden +82
Biden +158
Biden +262
Biden +50
Biden +26
Biden +20
Trump Win
Tie
Biden Win
0.3%
0.1%
99.6%
0.0%
0.0%
100.0%
-0.3%
-0.1%
+0.4%

Not a single one of our national metrics moved toward Trump this time.

Let's start by looking at the states that moved in or out of the "Weak Biden" and "Weak Trump" categories that our categorization model thinks could go either way since the margin is less than 5%.

In order from biggest to smallest:

With a series of really strong polls, Trump seems to be collapsing in Florida at the moment. Now, it would be natural for there to be some reversion to the mean at some point, and maybe the poll showing Biden with a 10%+ lead is an outlier. But for the moment, Florida moves from "Weak Biden" to "Strong Biden", meaning the categorization view no longer sees Florida as being in reach for Trump if the election was today. (Spoiler, it isn't.)

Pennsylvania also moves from "Weak Biden" to "Strong Biden" as a wave of new polls showing him ahead wash the most recent poll showing Trump leading Pennsylvania out of the average.

Now, Florida and Pennsylvania moving out of Trump's reach (for now) is big news, but perhaps the even bigger news is Biden retaking the lead in Georgia. Now, this is just barely. He leads by 0.9% in our average at the moment, which means we give Biden about a 55% chance of winning the state.

Georgia is clearly a battleground state at the moment, which is significant in and of itself, no matter which candidate is slightly ahead. In a world where Trump was doing well, you would not expect him to have to be fighting for Georgia, let alone be losing it.

With these categorization changes, you get this chart for the range between the categorization view's best and worst cases for each candidate:

In terms of the central "expected case" line, we are at a 162 EV win for Biden, which is almost, but not quite back to the 166 EV win we had for him in early May.

But Trump's best case is not only a loss for the first time since last October, but it is also the worst it has ever been in the Biden vs. Trump matchups. At this moment, if Trump were to win EVERY close state, he would still lose to Biden by 56 electoral votes.

Of course, the categorization model is very coarse. Let's look now at the rest of the close states that had new polling since our last update and see how those change the probabilistic model.


Where are Wisconsin and Michigan? Aren't they key swing states? Well, maybe. But at the moment they are not CLOSE states. Biden leads Wisconsin by 7.1% and Michigan by 8.0%. That may not stay that way. In both states, Biden's lead is down a bit from its high. But at the moment, Biden has quite a strong lead in both.

When you mash all of the movements in all of the states with new polls together into our probabilistic model, you get this:

Trump peaked in the middle of April in our simulations, dropped quickly, then plateaued, increasing to a second peak right around the beginning of June before falling again. Then things started to flatten out again, but that most recent bit of the chart is still subject to change as new polls covering that time period come in.

In terms of the median case of our simulations, Biden is now winning by 158 EV, almost at his recent best of 160 EV. His all-time best was 184 EV back in October.

In terms of probability of winning our site now shows Biden at 100.0%. That is rounded though of course. Looking at the unrounded numbers, it is actually 99.9977% at the moment.

This is the time for the usual "if the election was held today" warning. If Biden's polls end up looking like this on election eve, he would almost certainly win. But we have almost 126 days to go. And things can change.

So let's look at the tipping point, which measures just how much things have to change in order to flip the winner.

The tipping point has moved dramatically toward Biden. Between June 9th and June 22nd, it moved from Biden by 2.7% to Biden by 7.3%. That's 4.6% in less than 2 weeks.

On the one hand, that is a dramatic collapse for Trump. But on the other, it shows just how quickly things can move. Something that can go down quickly can potentially go up quickly too.

So for the two metrics we had in 2016 as well as today, how does Biden stack up to Clinton at the same time period?

<126 Days Out> 2016 2020
Expected Case Clinton by 144 Biden by 162
Tipping Point Clinton by 3.2% Biden by 7.3%

So yes, Biden is doing better on both metrics than Clinton was at this same time in 2016.

From this point, Clinton would improve a bit. In August 2016 she got up to a 188 EV lead in the expected case and a 6.1% lead in the tipping point. This, of course, did not last all the way until the election. By the time we got to the election, Election Graphs had Clinton leading, but just barely.

Other analysts looking at the internals of various polls, both at the state and national level are saying that Biden's support is more solid than Clinton's was. That she had weaknesses that Biden does not.

Maybe, maybe not. In any case, he is doing better at this time in the race than she was. A 7.3% tipping point is a SUBSTANTIAL lead.

Another way to look at the change since the last update on June 18th is to look at how the center portion of the spectrum of states changed.

Here is what it looked like in our last update:

And here is how it looks today:

Things are getting bluer.

To close things out, the current map:

And that is where we are.

But it is only July. Time to watch what happens over the summer.

125.7 days until polls start to close.

For more information:

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

Small Improvements for Trump

Since the last update on May 9th, there have been new polls in California [x2], Ohio, Texas, Wisconsin [x3], Nebraska (CD2), Georgia [x3], New Jersey, North Carolina [x4], Florida [x4], Colorado, Arizona [x3], Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Michigan [x4], Pennsylvania [x2], Washington [2], Minnesota, Maryland, Utah, New York, South Carolina, Indiana, and Missouri.

Despite all of this polling, things actually moved very little.

We'll start with the changes since last time on all of the metrics, then look at the graphs.

Model Metric 9 May 2 Jun 𝚫
Categories Trump Best
Expected
Biden Best
TIED
Biden +166
Biden +286
Trump +2
Biden +130
Biden +288
Trump +2
Trump +36
Biden +2
Tipping Point Biden +4.2 Biden +4.3% Biden +0.1%
Probabilities Trump 2σ
Median
Biden 2σ
Biden +36
Biden +130
Biden +240
Biden +22
Biden +122
Biden +234
Trump +14
Trump +8
Trump +6
Trump Win
Tie
Biden Win
0.2%
0.0%
99.8%
0.5%
0.1%
99.4%
+0.3%
+0.1%
-0.4%

The biggest change is in the "Expected Case" where Trump reduces his losing margin against Biden from 166 EV to 130 EV.

This is due to Ohio.

The polling average in Ohio moved from just barely Biden, to just barely Trump. Since the categorization model's Expected Case only cares who is in the lead, not by how much, this moves Ohio's 18 EV from one side to the other, for a net change in margin of 36 EV.

The probabilistic view, however, recognizes that both of these situations represent a close state that is very much in play. In addition, other close states move around a bit without actually changing category, but in ways that move the probabilistic results.

The net result is still Biden weakening a bit, just not quite as much as in the categorization view:

Aside from Ohio, Trump had nice movements in his direction in two close states:

This was countered a little bit by improvements for Biden in a couple of states:

But that wasn't enough to improve Biden's overall situation. On balance, although it has been small, the movement in the last few weeks has been toward Trump.

If the election was held today, Biden retains an overwhelming advantage.

But as usual, we point out that the race is dynamic. It would only take a 4.3% shift in the polls to make Trump the favorite, and that kind of change can happen in a matter of weeks. We have a long way to go.

Right now these are the battlegrounds:

And this is the map:

154.7 days until polls start to close on election night.

For more information:

This post is an update based on the data on the Election Graphs Electoral College 2020 page. Election Graphs tracks a poll-based estimate of the Electoral College. The charts, graphs, and maps in the post above are all as of the time of this post. Click through on any image 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 Results

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now in terms of win odds:

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

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

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

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

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

Moves toward the Democrats:

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

Moves toward Trump:

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

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

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

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

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

Then the tipping points:

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

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

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

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

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

Georgia has been very sparsely polled.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is on the Republican side.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

288.8 days until polls start to close.

For more information:

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

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

Goodbye Blue Texas

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

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

That is a lot. Sorry about that. Oops.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Warren improves her position a little.

Harris and Buttigieg are flat.

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

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

Harris is flat.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So time to look at the win odds…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are we having fun yet?

349.7 days until polls start to close on election night.

For more information:

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

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

Trump Internal Polls All Good News For Biden

Since the last update, there have been polls in North Carolina, New York, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida, Texas, Virginia, Maine (All), Minnesota, Iowa, Ohio, and Georgia.

Now, most (but not all) of these are internal Trump campaign polls that were leaked and reported on by first ABC and then NBC. The full internal polling reportedly included 17 states and matchups against multiple Democrats, but the leaks so far only include Biden versus Trump results in 12 of them. Because this is a leak of internal polls and not "regular polls," I tweeted a series of notes on these polls, that I will repeat here:

  • 1st: Some aggregators automatically exclude internal polling because of potential selective release bias, etc. I default to including as much as possible. So they are reflected on Election Graphs.
  • 2nd: I’m going with ABC on the field dates, not NBC. ABC reports March 15th to March 28th, which is precisely two weeks. NBC reports March 13th to March 28th, which includes two extra days. These almost certainly are the same batch of polls though.
  • 3rd: ABC and NBC differ slightly on their reports of the results in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Florida. In these cases, I will include both, but weighted as half polls, just as I do when a pollster reports results in multiple ways (with & without 3rd parties, registered vs. likely voters, etc.)
  • 4th: For some states this leak only includes margins. Election Graphs only uses margin in calculations, but it displays & reports candidate results too. For the instances where we only have leaked margins, I will log the polls such that Trump-Biden=Margin and Trump+Biden=100%.
  • 5th: If a range of possible margins is reported rather than a specific margin, I will log these as the center of that range.
  • 6th: If more detailed leaks become available, I will adjust how these polls are recorded to reflect any new information.

With those caveats, here are the status changes that occurred as a result of this batch of polls. After that, we'll start looking at the graphs.

All of these changes are for the Biden versus Trump matchup.

State Level:

  • Florida (29 EV) has moved from Weak Trump to Weak Biden
  • Virginia (13 EV) has moved from Weak Trump to Weak Biden

National Level:

  • Expected case change: Biden 299 to Trump 239 -> Biden 341 to Trump 197
  • Tipping point moves from Biden by 1.9% in NC to Biden by 3.4% in ME-CD2.

We'll look nationally first, then the states that changed categories, then a brief look at the locations that did not. Finally, I'll report on what all this does to the Monte Carlo simulation of the national race.

Keep in mind that all of the leaked internal polls were in the field back in March, so they are older data, and will change not just the end of the lines in the charts, but the shape of those lines over March, April, May, and June.

Rather than going graph by graph, here is the whole summary block from the Biden versus Trump page. The two charts on the right show a clear trend toward Biden.

Now, we are still at the stage where most states don't have five polls yet, so we are filling in data based on previous general election results when constructing state averages. So it is crucial to note that this "movement" is mostly not representing changes in public opinion yet, but rather is reflecting the increasing knowledge over time of what Biden vs. Trump looks like specifically, rather than a generic Democrat vs. Republican based on the average historical results from 2000 to 2016.

So the trend may not represent people flocking to Biden over the last few months, but instead, it shows that the more polls we get in more states, the stronger Trump looks against Trump.

Also important to note that while the "expected case" now has Biden winning by 144 electoral votes, a month before the 2016 election, the "expected case" was a 154 electoral vote win for Clinton. By election day that had slipped to only an eight electoral vote lead. And of course, Trump won by 77 electoral votes. The "expected case" can move very quickly, and does not give the whole picture anyway.

Similarly, the tipping point is now a 3.4% Biden lead, while less than two weeks before the election, Clinton had a 5.4% tipping point lead. That evaporated to 1.6% in the last two weeks, and the actual tipping point in the election was an 0.8% Trump margin.

So Biden looks formidable, but Clinton looked even stronger at times.

Also, things can move very quickly even in two weeks, let alone 506 days.

We have a long way to go.

OK, now the two states that changed categories in this update:

Including the two slightly different versions of the Trump internals leak as one averaged result, there have only been three Biden vs. Trump polls in Florida so far. And they cover a vast range. The average (including 2016 and 2008 to round things out) is a 1.0% Biden lead.

This lead translates into about a 55.6% chance of a Biden win, and a 44.4% chance of a Trump win.

As usual, Florida is a swing state.

The Trump internals leak is the very first 2020 polling for Virginia. From 2000-2016, there had been 3 Democratic wins, and 2 Republican wins. The average had been a very narrow 0.1% Republican lean for Virginia.

With this new poll, the 8.0% margin Republican win from 2000 slips off the average and a 17.0% lead for Biden enters. That's quite a swing! As a result, the current poll average moves to a 4.9% Biden lead, which translates into a 90.9% chance of winning the state.

And now, quickly, the other states with Biden vs. Trump polls in this update that did not change category:

Trump leads in Texas by only 1.0%, which translates into a 66.4% chance of victory if the election was today. Trump is still a favorite in Texas, but that this is even a question is striking in and of itself.

Biden leads by 8.5% in Pennsylvania. That would be a 99.1% chance of winning. (If the election was held today, which of course it is not.)

Biden leads by 0.9% in Ohio. 55.3% chance of winning the state.

The Trump internal poll was the first Biden vs. Trump polling for Georgia. It shows Biden with a significant lead, but given the historical Republican wins in Georgia, it will take a few more polls showing a Biden lead before the average goes there. For now, the average sits at a 5.8% Trump lead, which is a 98.1% chance of a Trump victory.

Biden leads by 7.1% in Michigan. 98.8% chance of winning.

Biden leads by 1.9% in North Carolina. 67.0% chance of winning.

The internal Trump poll is the first Biden vs. Trump polling in Minnesota. Biden is now leading by 7.4%, which would be a 99.1% chance of winning.

Biden leads by 7.5% in Wisconsin. 98.3% chance of winning.

Iowa is currently the closest state in the Biden vs. Trump spectrum of Election Graphs averages, with Trump squeaking out an 0.1% lead, which translates into a 55.1% chance of a Trump win.

The Trump internal polling was the very first polling on Maine. Biden is looking stronger than the historical average for Maine general elections. Biden is leading by 11.9%, which translates into a 100.0% chance of winning the state.

There were also polling results in New York (from Spry, not Trump's internal polling), but only for Gillibrand and de Blasio, who aren't in our "top five matchups against Trump" list that I discuss here on the blog. It was also heavily blue New York, and the results were unsurprising.

So finally, an updated look at how where the Monte Carlo simulation puts the Trump vs. Biden race after this update. As usual:

  • This simulation is "if the election was held today," which it is not.
  • The model uses the past accuracy of the final Election Graphs averages in the 2008-2016 elections to estimate poll-average reliability in 2020. It is always possible that polling accuracy in 2020 will differ in important ways from previous election cycles.
  • We still have very sparse polling, and many states have averages that are based in whole or in part on election results from 2000 to 2016 rather than actual 2020 polls.

OK. With that out of the way, a Monte Carlo simulation with 1,000,001 trial election runs:

  • Median result: Biden by 110
  • 1𝜎 (68.3%) range: Biden by 168 to Biden by 56
  • 2𝜎 (95.4%) range: Biden by 220 to Biden by 12
  • 3𝜎 (99.7%) range: Biden by 254 to Trump by 24

Expressing the results as win odds instead:

  • Biden win: 99.1%
  • Trump win: 0.7%
  • 269-269 tie: 0.2%

Ouch, this last set of polls, mostly the Trump internal points, really hurt for Trump. That 0.7% chance of a Trump win is down significantly from the 6.2% in the last update.

Should I repeat the caveats? The results above may look good for Biden, but it is still a long time until the election, and things will change.

Actually, they already have.

Because I had other things to do, it took me a couple of days to get this blog post done, and in the meantime, there have been new polls in five states. I'll be updating the site with the new data shortly, and will be back with another blog post if there are notable changes to mention.

503.9 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.