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.

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.

Iowa! (Finally)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For now, though, things can still get crazy.

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

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

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

157.4 days until the Democratic National Convention.

199.4 days until the Republican National Convention.

It is going to be a fun ride…

For more information:

This post is an update based on the data on the Election Graphs 2020 Delegate Race page. Election Graphs tracks estimates of the convention delegate totals for both parties. The charts, graphs, and maps in the post above are all as of the time of this post. Click through on any image to go to a page with the current interactive versions of that chart, along with additional details.

Follow @ElectionGraphs on Twitter or Election Graphs on Facebook to see announcements of new blog posts. For those interested in more granular updates of delegate updates or general election polling, follow @ElecCollPolls on Twitter. If you find the information in these posts informative or useful, please consider visiting the donation page.

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.

Is Impeachment Hurting the Dems?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This  has not been a good month for the Democrats.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

323.6 days until polls start to close.

For more information:

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

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

Goodbye Blue Texas

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

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

That is a lot. Sorry about that. Oops.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Warren improves her position a little.

Harris and Buttigieg are flat.

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

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

Harris is flat.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So time to look at the win odds…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are we having fun yet?

349.7 days until polls start to close on election night.

For more information:

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

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

Harris and Buttigieg Struggling in Trump Matchups

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That's all the states.

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

The expected case changes:

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

And the tipping point changes were:

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

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

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

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

The Democrats that are winning decisively:

The Democrat who is leading, but narrowly:

The Democrats whose chances are a coin toss:

And that is where we are.

367.7 days until polls start to close.

For more information:

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

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

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.

Texas and Pennsylvania close, Iowa flips red

Since the last update, there have been poll updates in Florida, Iowa, Texas, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. These new polls were all part of a single release from WPA Intelligence, and they ONLY polled the Biden vs. Trump matchup.

There are several caveats about this polling. For more on that, I'll point you to a great thread on Twitter by Charles Franklin, Director of the Marquette Law School Poll where he goes into the details.

Election Graphs tries to include everything though, without any fancy weighting, so a poll like this can make some waves. So let's look at what Election Graphs status changes came out of this polling.

Due to Iowa:

  • IA has moved from Weak Biden to Weak Trump
  • Biden vs. Trump tipping point change: Biden by 1.2% in CO -> Biden by 0.3% in OH
  • Biden vs. Trump expected case changed: Biden 290 to Trump 248 -> Biden 284 to Trump 254

Due to Texas:

  • TX has moved from Strong Trump to Weak Trump
  • Biden best case vs. Trump has changed: Biden 358 to Trump 180 -> Biden 396 to Trump 142

Due to Pennsylvania:

  • PA has moved from Strong Biden to Weak Biden
  • Trump best case vs. Biden has changed: Biden 250 to Trump 288 -> Biden 230 to Trump 308

We'll look at the national charts first, then dig into the state charts.

The most significant impact on the "envelope" is that it has widened significantly. Texas and Pennsylvania are now "in play," and just a few days ago Arizona started looking close too.

The difference between the case where all the close states go to Trump (a 78 electoral vote margin in Trump's favor, coming close to replicating Trump's 2016 margin), and the case where all the close states go to Biden (a 254 electoral vote margin in Biden's favor), is now huge.

There are lots of electoral votes in swing states, so there is a wide range of reasonable possibilities here.

At the same time, the middle line, showing where we are if both candidates win precisely the set of states where they are ahead in the poll average, gets closer. Biden still leads, but by only 30 electoral votes.

At the moment, this looks to be a very close race.

The tipping point chart shows this as well. The tipping point is the margin in the state that puts the winning candidate over the top. That is now Ohio, where Biden leads Trump by 0.3% in the current polling average.

As a comparison, on election eve in 2016, Clinton led Trump by 1.6% in the tipping point metric. And she lost.

Adding to that, given the historical performance of Election Graphs poll averages, an 0.3% Democratic lead ends up being only about a 48.8% chance of the Democrat winning. Given how actual election results have gone vs. the Election Graphs poll averages, the Republican is more likely to succeed when the Democrat leads by this narrow a margin!

Now, I don't have simulations in place yet for the full general election to produce odds there (maybe that will happen sometime in June if I get enough free time to do that), but with the tipping point this close to zero, and the envelope being so broad, things are clearly too close to call.

Now, let's look at some of the individual states, first with Biden vs. Trump only, then we'll compare to some of the other candidates.

In Texas, the new poll, showing Trump leading Biden by 7%, is the most favorable of the four surveys done in Texas so far, but along with the others, it confirms a race much closer than the historical average of a 16.1% Republican win from the 2000-2016 elections.

This change was enough to tip the state into "Weak Trump" territory. With a 3.8% lead in the average though, this still translates into a 91.4% chance of a Trump win.

In Pennsylvania, this is only the third Biden vs. Trump poll. This poll shows the closest race yet and brings the average for the state back near the historical average election performance. Which of course means it is back in "Weak Biden" territory after a brief foray in the "Strong Biden" zone. Given the historical accuracy, this 4.5% Biden lead becomes an 88.6% chance of a Biden win.

Once again the best poll result for Trump out of three, and once again a large range in recent polls. This time the average gets pulled from just barely Biden, to just barely Trump.

Before we start comparing to other candidates, one more state to highlight:

Biden vs. Trump in Michigan now has FIVE polls. This matchup/state combo is the first to have a full five data points, meaning the polling average is based only on actual polls and is not being "filled out" using previous election results.

Presumably, this will be happening more and more often now, but this is the first.

Now, this set of polls ONLY looked at Biden vs. Trump, but it moved how Biden was doing relative to the other Democratic contenders in terms of how they fare against Trump.

Before this set of polls, there had been Biden vs. Trump polling in 12 states: MA, MI, NH, WI, NV, PA, OH, IA, NC, AZ, TX, SC.

Of those states, Biden did better against Trump than the rest of the "best polled" candidates in all except New Hampshire and Michigan.

So he was better than the other Democrats in 83.3% of the states where there was polling.

Let's see where he is after these six polls:

In Texas, Biden continues to do better than the other Democrats. So still 10/12.

This survey is the very first poll in Florida, so the other candidates still show up as the average of the last five elections. But the new data point makes Florida a bit redder, so Biden is not doing better than the others here now. So 10/13 now.

In Pennsylvania, Biden had been doing better than the rest, but now he ties with Sanders and Warren. So now 9/13.

Michigan WAS one of the two states where Biden wasn't doing better than the other Democrats. Now he is. So 10/13.

Biden had been doing best in Wisconsin. Now Warren does better. 9/13.

Biden had been doing best in Iowa, now both Sanders and O'Rourke do better. So we are now at 8/13.

8/13 = 61.5%. So of the individual states where there has been polling, what HAD been a very consistent story of Biden doing better than everyone else against Trump has slipped considerably.

A quick look nationally:

The "expected case" where each candidate gets the states where they lead in the Election Graphs average, no more, no less, still has Biden winning by a 30 electoral vote margin, while Sanders only wins by 6 electoral votes, and O'Rourke, Warren, and Harris all LOSE to Trump by 6 electoral votes. So Biden is still slightly ahead here.

In the tipping point though,  Biden now leads by 0.3%, which is better than O'Rourke, Warren, and Harris, who all lose by 0.1%. But Sanders leads by 1.0%.

So by this metric Sanders is doing better in the national race than Biden against Trump.

So what does this mean? Biden being ahead on the electoral vote margin, but behind on tipping point, essentially means that while his expected winning margin might be more, that lead is much more precarious.

Of course, as I said before, Clinton had a 1.6% tipping point lead and lost. So with all of these tipping points, the bottom line is that this still looks like a very very close race.

No matter which Democrat you pit against Trump, it looks like a dead heat.

And there is no longer a convincing case that any one of those Democrats is doing distinctly better than the others against Trump.

Can I put this in terms of percent chances of winning for each of the Democrats when matched against Trump? No. Not yet. But I'll be working on it.

Stay tuned. Everything is wide open.

539.8 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.