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.

Iowa Update

Changes to the Election Graphs analysis based on a new poll from Emerson in Iowa:

  • Booker vs. Trump replaces Harris vs. Trump in the Election Graphs "five best-polled candidate matchups" group that we'll spend time talking about here on the blog.
  • Sanders vs. Trump tipping point change: Sanders by 0.9% in IA -> Sanders by 1% in IA
  • Booker vs. Trump tipping point change: Booker by 1.1% in IA -> Booker by 0.3% in IA

With these updates, the overall picture we have described here in previous posts remains the same. Biden is doing better against Trump than the other Democrats.

Looking at the tipping point since that is what changed with this update…

At the moment Biden leads Trump by 1.2% in the tipping point metric, Sanders leads by 1.0%, and Booker leads by 0.3%.

Warren and O'Rourke both trail Trump by 0.1%.

And specifically in Iowa:

With this new poll, Biden's lead over Trump in the Election Graphs Iowa average increases from 1.2% and Sanders improves by 0.1%.

Meanwhile, Warren falls further behind Trump by 0.4%, and Booker's lead drops by 0.8%.

Emerson didn't poll O'Rourke this time, so no change there.

Once again, as with the national picture, Biden does better than the other Democrats against Trump.

It is important to note though that in both Iowa and the country as a whole, the numbers so far continue to show an exceptionally close race. Biden's 1.2% tipping point lead is less than the 1.6% tipping point lead Clinton had on election day 2016.

And we still have incredibly sparse data. Biden vs. Trump has the best polling, and even in that matchup only 9 out of 56 jurisdictions that determine electoral votes have been polled at all, and none have had more than three polls. So the Election Graphs numbers are still mostly based on prior election history rather than actual 2020 polling.

But with the state polls so far, mirroring the primary polling we have seen, the theme, for now, is that Biden does best, followed by Sanders, with others trailing significantly. The Biden/Sanders advantage is likely still driven primarily by name recognition, but as the year progresses, that will be less and less of a factor.

589.9 days left until election day polls start to close.

For more information:

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

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

The First 2020 Polls

A few days ago I looked at where all the states ended up if you just look at the average results of the last few elections. No 2020 specific data.

But there have already been state level 2020 polls. Sixteen by my count. They are now all included on Election Graphs.

When I do updates here, unless there is a strong reason to do otherwise, I'm going to only discuss the five "best polled" candidate pairs. At the moment, the only Republican polled so far has been Trump. (Sorry Weld fans.) The five best polled Democrats against him right now are Biden, Warren, O'Rourke, Sanders, and Harris… in that order.

So with that out of the way, let's start looking at some graphs!

The chart above shows the "expected" electoral college result for each of these five candidate pairs, assuming each candidate wins all the states they lead in the Election Graphs five poll averages. This average still includes previous election results since there are no states where there are actually five polls yet.

So what do we see? From the very limited polling we have so far, we see Biden doing noticeably better than any of the other four Democrats when pitted against Trump. In the electoral college, Biden leads Trump by a 42 electoral vote margin. Sanders leads Trump by 6 electoral votes. And then Warren, O'Rourke, and Harris all lose to Trump by 6 electoral votes.

The "tipping point" is perhaps a better way to look at things. It is similar to looking at a popular vote margin, but adjusted for the structure of the electoral college. Here Biden has a 1.2% tipping point margin over Trump and Sanders has a 0.9% tipping point margin over Trump, but Warren, O'Rourke, and Harris all trail Trump by an 0.1% margin.

Frankly, ALL of these results, for all five possible opponents to Trump, are firmly within the "too close to call" zone. Even if it was the day before the election, not 607 days before the election. With this much time left, and with the extremely limited polling so far, any patterns we see may easily disappear as new polls come in. It might even be safe to say they will probably disappear. It is still very very early.

Having said that, the Biden advantage is even more striking as you start looking state by state. The following charts show how the polling average in each state has moved as the polls so far have come in.

Note: Keep in mind these are all measuring how each of the Democrats would fare against Trump in the general election, NOT how they might fare against each other in the primaries.

Watch the red line. The red line is Biden. Down is better for Democrats.

OK, in California Biden hasn't broken out. He hasn't actually been polled in California yet. So his average is just the average of the last five presidential elections.

Biden doing better than the other four Democrats in Texas.

Biden doing better than the other four Democrats in Ohio.

Biden doing better than the other four Democrats in Michigan.

Biden doing better than the other four Democrats in North Carolina.

Biden doing better than the other four Democrats in Arizona.

OK, none of the top five have been polled in Minnesota yet. (Only Klobuchar has been.) So they are all still on one line.

Biden doing better than the other four Democrats in South Carolina.

Biden doing better than the other four Democrats in Iowa.

OK, we finally have a state where Biden has been polled and he isn't doing better than the other Democrats. In New Hampshire, both Sanders and Warren do better against Trump than Biden does.

But that is it. Out of 10 states where we have state polls so far, Biden does better than the other four Democrats in 7. In 2 Biden hasn't been polled yet. Only in 1 does another Democrat do better against Trump.

Now, to be clear, at this stage in a Presidential race, this may be due entirely to name recognition. Most people may still not have much of an idea who Warren, O'Rourke, and Harris even are. But surely they would know who Sanders is, right? His name recognition must be comparable to Biden's. Right?

In any case, the way Biden consistently is outperforming other Democrats against Trump in the polls so far is striking. And he hasn't even officially said he is running yet.

It will be interesting to see if this pattern continues as the field starts to gel, and the other candidates get better known.

Election Graphs will of course update as the new polls come in…

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 they are added. If you find the information in these posts interesting or useful, please consider visiting the donation page.

The 2020 Starting Line

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is what that looks like at the starting line:

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

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

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

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

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

First up, here is the electoral college trend itself:

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

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

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

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

Next, the tipping point:

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

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

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

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

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

Of these category changes, only two favored the Democrats:

Every other category change was toward the Republicans:

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

The stage is set.

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

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

Here we go.