Election Day: Final Tightening?

It is Election Day.

Election Graphs has logged its last poll on Twitter for the 2020 season. In just a couple of hours, polls will start closing, and we will start getting actual election results.

So where did Election Graphs end up? What is our final prediction?

If you just want the bottom line, without any of the pretty charts or discussion, it is this:

Biden continues to be heavily favored to win. He is still in a stronger position than Clinton was four years ago. However, our numbers show a significant last-minute strengthening by Trump which makes Biden's lead much more tenuous than it was a week ago. If we had the same size polling error as 2016 in Trump's direction, he would win. (The same size error in the other direction would get to a Biden landslide… there are LOTS of close states.)

Having said that, the nature of some of the recent polls raises a real question about how much of this final move is "real" rather than just a lot of partisan and lesser-known pollsters flooding the final averages with polls that are favorable to Trump.

OK. If that is all you need, goodbye! See you for the 2024 cycle!

If you want more detail though, keep reading.

(There will also be a post tracking results as they come in tonight, and eventually, later this year once all the results are known and final, an analysis of how we did, so if those interest you, check back in later!)

The last blog update here was yesterday on November 2nd. There were hundreds of new polls (or at least it seemed that way) on that last day. Here are the changes in our metrics just in the last 24 hours.

Model Metric 2 Nov 3 Nov 𝚫
Probabilities
(Indep States)
Trump 2σ
Median
Biden 2σ
Biden +10
Biden +112
Biden +228
Trump +6
Biden +108
Biden +232
Trump +16
Trump +4
Biden +4
Trump Win
Tie
Biden Win
1.2%
0.1%
98.6%
2.5%
0.3%
97.2%
+1.3%
+0.2%
-1.4%
Probabilities
(Uniform Swing)
Trump 2σ
Median
Biden 2σ
Trump +84
Biden +102
Biden +314
Trump +86
Biden +132
Biden +294
Trump +2
Biden +30
Trump +20
Trump Win
Tie
Biden Win
18.8%
0.0%
81.2%
31.9%
0.0%
68.1%
+13.1%
FLAT
-13.1%
Categories Trump Best
Expected
Biden Best
Trump +64
Biden +102
Biden +288
Trump +64
Biden +132
Biden +288
FLAT
Biden +30
FLAT
Tipping Point Biden +3.5% Biden +2.3% Trump +1.2%

On the one hand, North Carolina moved back to the Biden side of the centerline. Which strengthens Biden by 30 EV in both the Uniform Swing Median and the Expected Case Median. But in the meantime, the huge wave of final polls reduced Biden's margin in the critical "Weak Biden" states.

And yes, it is the same thing I mentioned last time when I said:

There have been dozens of new polls since the update on the 31st. While there were exceptions, the overwhelming theme was polls showing a better picture for Trump and a worse one for Biden than we had seen any time recently. So almost all of the metrics above move in Trump's direction.

As with a couple of the other recent spikes toward Trump in the last few weeks, you can look at the specific polls in the average, and start wondering if this is just a bunch of right-leaning pollsters flooding the zone with polls in the last few days. While there were plenty of results from large mainstream pollsters released in these last few days, there were quite a few partisan polls released too, and some of them definitely helped move the averages toward Trump. I talked about this phenomenon on October 20th, October 24th, and October 31st… so I won't delve into that in-depth again.

Will this deteriorate further in the limited time left? Or bounce back? Or neither? If I had to guess, I'd say reversion to the mean. There have been no major news events in the last week that would seem likely to drive a tightening. So I expect this "tightening" is actually just an artifact. But that is just an educated guess. We will all know soon enough.

It did not revert to the mean. Biden's situation deteriorated a lot more. It ended up being significant in the final numbers.

So I guess I do have to delve into it again. Bottom line, in the last few days before Election Day, every pollster in existence seems to have wanted to make sure they got a shot at Election 2020, and a huge volume of polls was released. Many of these were from pollsters that have clear partisan leanings, and whose results were much more positive to Trump than what we had been seeing. Others were just lesser-known pollsters.

Election Graphs uses a "Last X Polls" model, specifically so that as the election approaches and there is more polling, we look at shorter and shorter timeframes and are more responsive to changes. We also use the mid-date of polls to determine just which polls are part of the "Last X" rather than the end-date. This means that in terms of the "final" averages we favor the very last-minute polls put out with very short times in the field.

The result is that many of the large well-known polling companies with good reputations that put out their final polls late last week or even over the weekend got crowded out of the critical state averages by the large volume of random polls, which often just covered one or two days in the field.

Those pollsters tended to be much more bullish on Trump than the usual suspects who had been polling this race regularly over the last year.

So the averages in many states jerked a few percentage points toward Trump, just in the last few days.

If there was a big event in the news that was bad for Biden, then it would be easy to say that was the cause. The closest thing to that has been the drip-drip of information about Biden's son, but for the most part that has not seemed to actually get much traction. But maybe?

In the absence of a clear reason for movement, while there is most definitely a clear difference in the nature of the polling that comprises the average, it seems reasonable to think that maybe the movement is just an artifact of the polling, and doesn't represent a real change.

So perhaps the picture the site had of the race a week or two ago is actually a better representation of what is happening?

Maybe.

But four years ago we had a similar move in the last few days before the election. And that time it also seemed to be driven by a surge of polls from outlets that hadn't been doing a lot of polling earlier in the cycle. And we ended up closer to the final result because we reflected the change caused by those polls. That last burst of polls ended up being closer to reality than the more established pollsters they displaced.

Of course, that could well have just been luck too.

We set the rules for how we define the averages, what we would include and would not include, etc over two years ago, based heavily on what we did in 2008, 2012, and 2016. We're not going to change anything on the last day.

So it is what it is.

We'll find out in a few hours if the short time frames and the burst of lower quality polls ended up causing Election Graphs to dramatically overestimate Trump and underestimate Biden. If we are way off, maybe we'll change something for 2024. Or maybe the movement seen in these last 48 hours actually better represents what is going on.

I don't know. We will see.

So I can give the caveats above, but the numbers are what they are, and so we'll do the rest of this discussion taking them at face value.

Let's look at all the graphs.

First of all, the comparison with 2016:

After a brief spike toward a stronger position for Biden, the collapse we have been talking about happened. The final tipping point was only a 2.3% Biden lead. Biden had seen worse tipping points, but not since early June.

Even at this level though, Biden is stronger than the 1.6% that Clinton ended with. So he is still in a better position.

However, the difference between the Election Graphs final tipping point and the actual election results in 2016 was 2.36%. So the same size error in the correct direction would make Trump the winner.

In terms of the expected case, where each candidate wins every state where they lead the Election Graphs average, Biden is in the low end of his recent range, but not any lower, and still significantly ahead of where Clinton was.

OK. Let's look at the range of margins predicted by our three models:

In all three of these cases, the center lines have moved toward Trump, but are either still in their normal ranges, or are just barely out it. What has changed though is that in all cases the upper end of the envelopes, representing Trump's best cases has stretched out significantly further into the Trump wins zone.

This makes sense because most of what we saw was not states actually flipping from Biden to Trump in the averages, just Biden's lead in states being significantly diminished. So the straight-up scenario that happens if the averages are all correct doesn't move much. But the sensitivity to the averages being wrong and therefore states flipping to Trump based on those errors increases significantly.

As a sanity check, let's compare our three centerlines with what other sites are saying at the moment:

So I'm in the zone. Most of the big folks have Biden doing better than I do, but there are a few places that have him doing worse.

And the Election Graphs "expected case" exactly matches what the Upshot says would be the result if the polling error in 2020 was the same magnitude and direction as the error in 2016. Which is interesting.

I note of course that nobody has Trump winning in their "expected case".

OK, with that done, let's look at odds.

While still small, the red zone in the Independent States odds view is now significantly larger, with Trump's chances now at 2.5%.

Trump's odds in the uniform swing model are massive now though, at 31.9%.

Fundamentally, since this imagines the extreme case where all the states move in a completely synchronous way, the only thing that matters is the odds in the tipping point state. And as of the final situation, the tipping point is Pennsylvania, and our average has Biden leading Pennsylvania by only 2.3%.

And in our analysis of our results from 2008 to 2016, we discovered that when we have a Democrat leading by 2.3%, that translates into a 68.1% chance of the Democrat winning, and a 31.9% chance of the Republican winning.

So Trump's chance of winning Pennsylvania is 31.9%, and if all the states are locked together, that means his odds of winning the whole election would be 31.9% too.

Since both of these models are extremes, and the truth is somewhere in between, the official Election Graphs statement on Trump's chances at this point is "between 2.5% and 31.9%". Election Graphs doesn't actually model where the right spot is within this range, but the middle is as good a spot to look at as any. That would be a 17.2% chance of a Trump win at the moment.

Once again, let's compare with the other folks:

My two extreme models are unsurprisingly near the extremes. "The middle" puts me lower than most of the "big" outlets. So maybe they think which there is some correlation between the states, their models still think they are more independent than not.

In any case, Biden is a favorite in all of these views. But in some, the chances of an upset are much more than others.

Not including the three from me, the median is a 9.3% chance of a Trump win. Including all three of mine, the median is 10.0%.

So as usual I make the statement that people tend to be bad at interpreting odds. 10% is not 0%. 10% happens all the time. Biden is favored, but a Trump win is still very possible.

Looking at the tipping point without the 2016 comparison, the main thing to notice is the huge volatility at the end. Swinging first in favor of Biden, then against him. This is an indication that perhaps for 2024, I should look into ways to make this a little LESS sensitive to short term changes in the last weeks.

OK. Time for the map and spectrum:

This view makes the volatility of the race clear. There are 10 states (and Maine CD2) with margins less than 5%.

The polling error in 2016 was 2.36%. There are 8 states closer to the centerline than that, including the tipping-point state.

If we get a 2016 size error favoring Trump, we get a very narrow win for Trump, squeaking past the post with an 18 EV margin.

If we get a 2016 size error favoring Biden, Biden wins by 288 EV, the largest winning margin since 1988.

More likely than either extreme of course is that we just get a solid but not extraordinary Biden win.

And now the trends in all the close states:


And that is that.

It is election night. The first results will be coming out within a couple of hours. We may or may not end up knowing who wins tonight, but we'll still learn a lot. And soon enough, we will indeed have a winner.

I hope you have enjoyed Election Graphs and found it useful this year. Aside from seeing how things turn out and how we did, we are done.

It was fun. Thanks everyone!

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.

1.5 Days Out: Good Poll Cycle for Trump

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

The last blog update here was on October 31st. It is now November 2nd. We only have about a day and a half to go until we start getting actual results from Election 2020. I expect to do one more blog update before polls close on Election Day.

Model Metric 31 Oct 2 Nov 𝚫
Probabilities
(Indep States)
Trump 2σ
Median
Biden 2σ
Biden +52
Biden +150
Biden +256
Biden +10
Biden +112
Biden +228
Trump +42
Trump +38
Trump +28
Trump Win
Tie
Biden Win
0.1%
0.0%
99.9%
1.2%
0.1%
98.6%
+1.1%
+0.1%
-1.3%
Probabilities
(Uniform Swing)
Trump 2σ
Median
Biden 2σ
Trump +52
Biden +176
Biden +294
Trump +84
Biden +102
Biden +314
Trump +32
Trump +74
Biden +20
Trump Win
Tie
Biden Win
14.6%
0.0%
85.4%
18.8%
0.0%
81.2%
+4.2%
FLAT
-4.2%
Categories Trump Best
Expected
Biden Best
Trump +20
Biden +176
Biden +288
Trump +64
Biden +102
Biden +288
Trump +44
Trump +74
FLAT
Tipping Point Biden +4.3% Biden +3.5% Trump +0.8%

There have been dozens of new polls since the update on the 31st. While there were exceptions, the overwhelming theme was polls showing a better picture for Trump and a worse one for Biden than we had seen any time recently. So almost all of the metrics above move in Trump's direction.

As with a couple of the other recent spikes toward Trump in the last few weeks, you can look at the specific polls in the average, and start wondering if this is just a bunch of right-leaning pollsters flooding the zone with polls in the last few days. While there were plenty of results from large mainstream pollsters released in these last few days, there were quite a few partisan polls released too, and some of them definitely helped move the averages toward Trump. I talked about this phenomenon on October 20th, October 24th, and October 31st… so I won't delve into that in-depth again.

But there is one critical difference. Judging by what happened in the last couple of cycles, there might be a handful of straggler polls released Tuesday morning, but we really only have one full day left for polls to be released. And many of the major pollsters have already released their "final polls" for the critical states. That means that any outliers introduced in the last few days, or in the remaining time we have left, will very likely still be part of the final averages this site produces.

There is no longer much time for an outlier poll to be "washed out" by additional polling. We are nearly at the end.

So while there may be some changes tomorrow, let's take seriously what we have today, and not try to make excuses. Four years ago on this site, there was a similar move toward Trump in the final days, and I somewhat dismissed it by pointing out the influence of partisan pollsters and what looked like possible outliers in the late-breaking polls. And of course, in retrospect, that move was real.

Is this move real? We'll know once the actual votes get counted.

So what do we have today if we take our averages seriously?

So let's look at all the graphs.

First of all, the comparison with 2016:

In the tipping point, which represents the degree polls need to be wrong and/or change before the end in order to flip the winner, Biden now holds a 3.5% lead. This is the worst level Biden has been at since mid-June, but it still beats the 1.6% Clinton was at four years ago by a significant amount.

Will this deteriorate further in the limited time left? Or bounce back? Or neither? If I had to guess, I'd say reversion to the mean. There have been no major news events in the last week that would seem likely to drive a tightening. So I expect this "tightening" is actually just an artifact. But that is just an educated guess. We will all know soon enough.

In terms of the expected case, where each candidate wins every state where they lead the Election Graphs average, Biden has a slightly lower margin than he has seen before in the last three months. Georgia, North Carolina, Texas, Ohio, and Iowa, all of which have spent time on the Biden side of the centerline, are all now in "Weak Trump" territory in the Election Graphs averages at the same time.

But Biden is still ahead by 102 electoral votes in this view. By this time four years ago, Clinton was hanging on with only an 8 electoral vote lead.

OK. Let's look at the range of margins predicted by our three models:

All three of these still have their centerlines with the narrowest Biden lead they have seen in the last three months. These levels were last seen in June. So not unprecedented, but still breaking out of the recent zone.

In terms of odds from the probabilistic views, the Independent States chart no longer just looks like a blue square. So here it is:

See that little bit of red at the bottom right? For the first time in a long time, Trump's chance of winning is visible in this view, as it rises to 1.2%. Prior to this bump, the highest this has been in the last three months was 0.2%.

Those odds assume that there is no correlation between polling errors in different states though. So time to look at the other extreme.

In this view, Trump is now at an 18.8% chance of winning.

As with all of the other views, this is the best Trump's numbers have been in the last three months.

Since both of these models are extremes, and the truth is somewhere in between, the official Election Graphs statement on Trump's chances at this point is "between 1.2% and 18.8%". The middle of that range is 10.1%.

While Election Graphs doesn't actually model where the right spot is within this range, the middle is as good a spot to look at as any. So I'll just call it a 10.1% chance of a Trump win at the moment. That is up from 7.4% when we looked at this two days ago.

As 2016 should have taught everyone, a 10% chance of winning is not the same thing as a 0% chance of winning. Things that happen 1 in 10 times happen many many times every day.

Having said that, Biden is still a heavy favorite. We're not in a coin toss scenario, and certainly not in a situation where Trump is favored.

Looking at the tipping point without the 2016 comparison, there is one additional thing I would like to point out besides the fact that the tipping point is at a 3.5% Biden lead, which is outside of the range it has been in for the last three months.

Specifically, look a few days earlier. The many polls that came since the last update included a lot of polls that were very favorable to Biden that were in the field a few days earlier than the ones that drove the current numbers toward Trump. So I now show a peak on October 29th to a 7.4% tipping point lead for Biden based on that polling! That was also outside the normal range for the last three months. In fact, it was the best tipping point number Biden has EVER seen!

Because polls are coming in fast and furious, and Election Graphs is intentionally very sensitive to short term changes as polling velocity increases, we are seeing LOTS of volatility as outliers come and go from the averages.

Which is another reason to think that the "truth" here is probably a fairly stable Biden +5% tipping point lead, and the ups and downs here are just polling noise. Maybe in future cycles, I should consider making things a little LESS sensitive to short term changes. Maybe a 10 poll average instead of a 5 poll average. That would smooth things out a little bit.

For now though, when you see a noisy graph like this, it almost always means that the true "signal" is not actually an underlying reality rapidly moving up and down, but rather you are just seeing measurement artifacts, and you want to consider the overarching trend, not the transient jiggles.

OK. Time for the map and spectrum:

As with all the other views, we have shown, this spectrum shows a lot closer race than we have seen since June. There are more states on the Trump side of the centerline, and the "Weak Biden" states are weaker than they were.

Subject to any changes due to additional polls coming in over the next day or so, what does that mean in different polling error scenarios?

As we discussed last time, the Election Graphs tipping point was off by 0.89% in 2012, 2.36% in 2016, and 3.45% in 2008.

You need a larger error than any of those three election cycles to get a straight-up Trump victory.

But a 2008 level error would have Trump winning Maine CD2, Arizona, and Florida in addition to the states he leads, and leave Biden's win dependant on a lead of less than 0.1% in Pennsylvania. With all of the talk of legal disputes over what ballots are counted, a 2008 level polling error in this direction would certainly put that scenario into play.

On the other hand, even a 2016 level polling error in the other direction would result in Biden winning Georgia, North Carolina, Texas, Ohio, and Iowa. That would be Biden 413, Trump 125 in the final count, or a 288 electoral vote margin, which would be the largest win since Bush beat Dukakis in 1988.

The most likely result is of course in between: A Biden win, but not by an overwhelming margin.

And now the trends in all the close states:

And that is that.

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

If you are eligible to vote in the US and have not yet done so, make your plan and get it done.

For more information:

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

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

Trump Collapse? Or Not?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OK, now for the parade of graphs…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So let's look at the odds charts.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finally, let's do the 2016 comparison.

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

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

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

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

So once again, sorry!

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

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

Here we go…

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

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

But let's look at the tipping point comparison:

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

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

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

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

Embedding the most recent XKCD because it is directly relevant:

XKCD Prediction

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

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

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

We shall see.

Finally, the map as it stands right now:

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

But first, the usual closing with the countdown:

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

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

For more information:

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

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

The Situation on Debate Day

It is a few hours before the first Presidental debate, and I am overdue for another blog update.

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

First of all, let me highlight that prompted by some questions about the site sent to me by reader Wim M., I realized that while I had produced one in previous election cycles, I had completely forgotten to create a Frequently Asked Questions page for 2020. That is now rectified.

Here is the new FAQ for this website. If you have questions that aren't included there, please contact me and let me know what you want to know, and I may add the question.

With that out of the way, the last update here was 12 days ago on September 17th. Here are the high-level changes since that last post:

Model Metric 17 Sep 29 Sep 𝚫
Probabilities
(Indep States)
Trump 2σ
Median
Biden 2σ
Biden +44
Biden +152
Biden +256
Biden +46
Biden +144
Biden +256
Biden +2
Trump +8
FLAT
Trump Win
Tie
Biden Win
0.1%
0.0%
99.9%
0.1%
0.0%
99.9%
FLAT
FLAT
FLAT
Probabilities
(Uniform Swing)
Trump 2σ
Median
Biden 2σ
NEW
NEW
NEW
Trump +84
Biden +168
Biden +312
NEW
NEW
NEW
Trump Win
Tie
Biden Win
NEW
NEW
NEW
7.5%
0.0%
92.5%
NEW
NEW
NEW
Categories Trump Best
Expected
Biden Best
Biden +6
Biden +240
Biden +288
Biden +8
Biden +168
Biden +294
Biden +2
Trump +72
Biden +6
Tipping Point Biden +5.6% Biden +5.4% Trump +0.2%

Hey! There is a whole new section. And it shows Trump with a much better chance of winning! Where did that come from? What is that?

After the last blog post, I had a question from reader Jason H. asking why our Biden win odds were so much higher than a lot of other sites showing odds for the election and if this was related to treating the results in states independently. I answered that for the moment, the biggest difference is that this site only does "if the election was held today", not an actual forecast that tries to how things may change in the remaining days before the election, but that indeed, our simulation did consider the states to be independent, and if there was still a big difference by the time we got to the election, that would be why.

But frankly, it is getting close enough to the election to know that a 99.9% chance of a Biden win is too high. Sure. He is a favorite. But 99.9%? Nah. That can't be right. Even if the election was today.

Around the same time, there was a blowup on "Election Twitter" around the same issue, roundly criticizing models that treated the states as if they were uncorrelated. I am too small to have been mentioned by name, but this criticism very much applied to this site too. So I needed to do something.

The new FAQ has some additional info, but the bottom line is that while I don't have a good way at the moment to predict the degree of correlation between states, I can put bookends around the possibilities.

What I have shown in the past in the probabilistic model is the completely uncorrelated case. It assumes that what happens in one state has no predictive value toward the other states at all. Because an upset in one state can be compensated for by an upset in another, this results in a much tighter range of possibilities overall.

I have now added a "uniform swing" view that assumes essentially that all the states always move together. This is the other extreme. If you know how far off one state is from the poll average, you can figure out where all the other states will be. It results in a wider distribution, with larger chances for upsets (or landslides).

Looking at the historical "envelopes" I produce, the difference looks like this:

You can clearly see that Uniform Swing produces a much wider range of possibilities, even in the central 1σ (68.27%) band. Basically, forcing the states to move in lockstep results in a much more uncertain view of the race.

In terms of win odds, while the "Independent States" graph is now just a solid block of blue with Biden's win odds pinned near 100% since June, the Uniform Swing view looks like this:

Biden is still heavily favored across this whole time period, but Trump has spiked as high as an 18.7% chance of winning. That is much much better than 0.1%.

These two views are the extremes given the polling averages I have, and the state margin to state win odds mapping I calculated using the historical 2008 to 2016 data on this site.

The truth is somewhere in between these two views, but my methods don't pinpoint an exact value for that "true" value.

So this means that Election Graphs right now thinks that Biden's chances of winning are somewhere between 92.5% and 99.9%, while Trump's chances of winning are between 0.1% and 7.5%.

This is still based ONLY on poll averages, it is not a model that factors in all kinds of other things like some other places do.

And critically, this is still "if the election was today". It doesn't become a prediction until we add the last polls right before the election. Because of this, you'll notice that we still have higher win odds for Biden than some other famous places. They are trying to factor in the chances that Biden's current lead disappears between now and the election. I still don't do that.

But this seems more intuitively reasonable than the near 100% Biden lock we have been showing.

The main 2020 Electoral College page has now been updated to include these new views along with everything that was shown there before. Sorry I didn't add all this earlier!

With all of that out of the way, time for all the things we usually highlight in these update posts:

This week's TL;DR: Biden is still significantly ahead. The race is mostly stable. A few states that were just barely on one side or the other of the centerline switched sides. But either way, they are really too close to call. So even though the "Expected Case" in the Categorization view moves a lot, the actual state of the race isn't much different.

Let's look at all the places that shifted in or out of "Weak Biden" and "Weak Trump" since the last update.

First up, Texas. Biden was up by a little bit for a while, but no longer. It is still a close race though, with Texas actively in play.

Pennsylvania has mostly been "Strong Biden", but for a brief time, Biden's lead slipped under 5%. Then Biden strengthened again, and it is back where it usually is… just out of Trump's reach.

Ohio has been just barely Trump for awhile. The latest average moves it to just barely Biden. But the "just barely" part of that is more important than the candidate's name you put after that. Ohio is on the edge.

Georgia is also right on the edge, but because it has been polled more often, it appears more volatile. In the 12 days since the last update, Georgia flipped over the center line in my averages seven times. But it was Weak Biden 12 days ago, and it is Weak Trump now, so the net change is for Trump this time. But given the history, it would not be surprising for it to flip dozens of times before the election.

Like Pennsylvania, Biden's lead briefly dipped under 5% in Michigan. Unlike Pennsylvania, the timing of the polls was such that the brief foray into "Weak Biden" was actually erased from the graph once all the data was in.

From the other direction, the addition of some older polls from June, July, and August actually pulled Trump's lead in South Carolina under 5% for much of the summer. That older poll data wasn't available when we posted 12 days ago, so it only reflected as a switch to "Weak Trump" when we added those polls a few days back. But then a few polls from September quickly pulled the state back into the "Strong Trump" zone.

Exactly the same thing happened with Alaska. The addition of older data from June and July briefly pulled the average under 5%, but then it popped back up again.

Montana on the other hand did actually move from "Stong Trump" to "Weak Trump. That one data point showing Biden actually leading Montana sure looks like an outlier though. So don't be surprised for this to jump back to "Strong Trump" when that poll rolls off the average. (Assuming there are at least 4 more Montana polls before the election, which there may or may not be.)

And Nebraska's second congressional district, where the average finally catches up with the individual polls, which have been showing 6%+ Biden leads since the spring.

And then the "Weak" states and CDs that did not switch categories this time, without commentary:

Add up all of these changes, the categorization view now looks like this:

Note because we backfilled a lot of June, July, and August numbers that became available last week, some of the older part of the chart moved around a bit as well as just the newer weeks.

But the picture here is pretty static for August and September. The middle line bounces around a bit as the close states cross back and forth over the centerline. But basically, there isn't much consistent movement one way or another. Where we are now is very close to where we were two months ago.

Normally at this point, we'd show the probabilistic view and talk about it a bit, but that was covered at the beginning of the post this time with the addition of the Uniform Swing view. If you scroll back up and look at the probabilistic charts, you'll see they also show a pretty steady picture. Sure, there is some movement up and down as polls come in and out of the averages. But there is no clear directional movement. Neither candidate is breaking out of their "normal" range.

Is it any different for the tipping point?

Aside from some very short-lived spikes, the tipping point has been between 4% and 6% Biden since mid-June. And most of that time has been between 5% and 6% Biden. While as always, there is noise, this also shows a very stable race.

As a reference, in the three elections I have tracked, the biggest difference between the tipping point based on the final averages here and the actual tipping point based on the election results was 3.45% in 2008. Biden's tipping point lead is currently 5.4%.

The RCP average of national polls currently shows a 6.1% Biden lead. Comparing to the 5.4% tipping point, this implies that the structure of the electoral college is currently giving Trump a 0.7% head start. This is up from 0.3% head start in the last update.

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

Now time to compare to 2016:

In the expected case, Biden is down from where he was, but he is still doing better than Clinton was at a comparable time. This time in 2016 was a peak for Clinton, but Biden still beats it. Barely. But this is the high end of Clintons range, while it is the low end of Biden's.

But let's look at the tipping point comparison:

Clinton's early October peak was pretty substantial. While Biden's "expected case" is still better, in terms of the tipping point, he actually slightly lags where Clinton was at the same point. Biden is at 5.4%. Clinton was at 5.6%

So in terms of how much of a swing in nationwide polling would be needed to change the outcome, Biden is essentially exactly the same place Clinton was at this point in terms of the tipping point margin. And Clinton collapsed.

Quoting from the last post, since this hasn't changed?

What's different this time?

Aside from the big movement toward Biden in June, Biden's tipping point has been more stable than Clinton's. Clinton's line swung back and forth wildly. Biden is certainly jittering around a bit, but the magnitude of the movements is a lot smaller.

Election Graphs focuses on margins, but looking at the details of the polling and the actual absolute amount of support for each candidate, one big difference in 2020 vs 2016 is that we have a significantly smaller set of undecided voters now than in 2016. So the group who are available to "slosh around" and shift back and forth over time is a lot smaller.

Does that exclude the possibility of a Clinton style collapse?

No. It does not.

But it probably does mean you need a pretty huge news event to cause that kind of movement.  It would not only have to make the undecideds break strongly toward Trump but also keep some current Biden supporters from voting for him, either by actually flipping or just by staying home.

Clinton's tipping point at this point in 2016 was one of the highest levels she ever hit on this metric. Biden is about where he usually has been. This does seem to make the kind of collapse Clinton saw less likely.

But we are about to enter October. Will we get "October Surprises" this October that match the impact of what happened in 2016?

We only have a few weeks left to find out.

Finally, the current map:

Like everything else in this post, the map shows where things stood when I started this blog post. But we have entered the part of the season where new polls are being released nearly constantly. There have been several during the time I have been writing this update. Time to go and start adding them in…

For now though, the usual closing with the countdown:

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

Hold on tight.

For more information:

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

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

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.

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.

Enter Pence?

Since last week's update, there have been new polls in Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

First of all, I should mention that while the 2020 Electoral College page on Election Graphs lets you pick any Democrat and any Republican that has been polled in the 2020 cycle, here on the blog, we restrict ourselves to talking about the six "best polled" candidate combinations. I use a metric for this that is a weighted average of how far back in time the "five poll averages" go in each state. The weighting gives low margin states more influence in the metric than places where one candidate is far ahead.

Up until now, this had been six different Democrats vs Trump. In mid-September though, SurveyUSA did a poll of California that included Pence and Haley as potential Republicans in the general election too. And this last week, Emerson included Pence in a poll of Ohio.

This is pretty sparse polling, but it happened to make the new Sanders vs. Pence polling average in Ohio very close to a tie, which because of the way my metric for "best polled" works, increases the Sanders vs. Pence poll quality up higher than it probably deserves, and Sanders vs. Pence bumps O'Rourke vs. Tump off of my top six.

I suspect this will not last, but for now, I'm looking at Biden, Sanders, Warren, Buttigieg, and Harris vs. Trump… and Sanders vs. Pence.

Within these candidate combinations, the only change in the categorization model was Ohio flipping from just barely Trump, to just barely Sanders:

The current average here includes three actual 2020 polls, plus the 2008 and 2016 elections, ending up with a 0.2% Sanders lead. Now, this is one of those zones that is a bit different. Based on the historical performance of Election Graphs averages, a 0.2% Democratic lead only translates into a 47.8% chance of the Democrat winning.

The categorization model doesn't care about that, though. Ohio is now on the blue side of the centerline for Sanders, so the "Expected Case" includes him winning Ohio. Sanders now leads in this "everybody gets all the states where they lead in the average" case by 202 electoral votes.

I've been spending a lot of time on these blog posts lately on the probabilistic model, and I'll get to that in a second, but first a quick look at the expected cases for all six of the best-polled candidate matchups in terms of the categorization model:

Biden leads Trump by 242 electoral votes. Sanders now leads Trump by 202 electoral votes. Every one of the other combinations is a close race. The only Democrat losing is Warren, who falls short by 20 electoral votes.

Flipping back to the probabilistic view, which takes into account all the changes in all three states that got polls this week, not just the one category change, we see this:

Dem 29 Sep 6 Oct 𝚫
Biden 99.9% 99.9% Flat
Sanders 97.2% 97.3% +0.1%
Warren 66.7% 68.9% +2.2%
Buttigieg 66.5% 66.5% Flat
Harris 64.0% 64.0% Flat

Of these five, only Biden, Sanders, and Warren received new results this week. Nothing new for Buttigieg or Harris.

But let's not forget Sanders vs. Pence. Based only on the results of the last five presidential elections, this stood at a 68.1% chance of a Sanders victory. The earlier California poll had not changed this at all.  But adding the new Ohio poll to the average brings Sanders up to a 72.8% chance of beating Pence.

Let's also look at how the median electoral college result for these candidate matchups have changed in the last week:

Dem 29 Sep 6 Oct 𝚫
Biden +166 +170 +4
Sanders +112 +114 +2
Warren +30 +28 -2
Buttigieg +22 +22 Flat
Harris +18 +18 Flat

And of course, Sanders vs. Pence.  The result based only on the last five election results was Sanders +22. The new polling moves that to Sanders +28.

And that's it for this week.

393.7 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.

Some Dems Up, Some Dems Down

Since last week's update, there have been two new polls in Texas, and one each in New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

For the six most polled Democrats against Trump (Biden, Sanders, Warren, Buttigieg, Harris, and O'Rourke) this week saw the following category changes:

  • Biden vs. Trump state category change: WI has moved from Strong Biden to Weak Biden
  • Sanders vs. Trump state category change: MI has moved from Strong Sanders to Weak Sanders
  • Warren vs. Trump state category change: PA has moved from Weak Warren to Weak Trump

Looking at how this impacted the national numbers:

In the "Expected Case" where every candidate wins every state they are ahead in, Pennsylvania moving from slightly Warren to slightly Trump means that Warren now only has a 12 electoral vote margin in this scenario.

Biden's lead dropping below 5% in Wisconsin, and Sander's lead dropping below 5% in Michigan meanwhile, improves Trump's "Best Case" (where he wins not only all of the states where he is ahead but also all the ones where he is behind by less than 5%) against both candidates.

As these five states moved around, several tipping points moved as well.

  • Sanders vs. Trump tipping point change: Sanders by 1.3% in FL -> Sanders by 1.9% in TX
  • O'Rourke vs. Trump tipping point change: O'Rourke by 2.1% in TX -> O'Rourke by 1.8% in TX
  • Biden vs. Trump tipping point change: Biden by 4.9% in VA -> Biden by 4.6% in WI

The tipping point changes already make it clear that this was a mixed week. Some Democrats improved their positions against Trump; some moved in the opposite direction. This mix in the situation exists despite all of the actual category changes being in Trump's direction.

The movement within categories that starts to be shown by the tipping point is something we can see even better if we switch to the probabilistic simulation view:

Dem 8 Sep 15 Sep 𝚫
Biden 99.9% 99.8% -0.1%
Sanders 95.8% 96.9% +1.1%
O'Rourke 80.0% 80.8% +0.8%
Warren 71.1% 69.0% -2.1%
Buttigieg 67.1% 67.0% -0.1%
Harris 64.3% 65.7% +1.4%

There were a lot of mixed results in a lot of states this week. But when you balance it all out in terms of the odds of winning in the Electoral College:

  • Harris, Sanders, and O'Rourke strengthened against Trump
  • Warren, Biden, and Buttigieg weakened against Trump

Another way of looking at this is the median margins in the Monte Carlo simulations for each of the candidate combinations:

Unlike the categorization "Expected Case" view, where Harris narrowly loses to Trump, all six Democrats lead Trump in the probabilistic "Median Case."

Warren, Buttigieg, and Harris all lead by 30 or less electoral votes, though. In electoral vote terms, that is a very tight race. Any state with more than 15 electoral votes slipping to the other side of the centerline would switch the outcome.

O'Rourke, Sanders, and Biden, each, in turn, have more of a margin than the candidate before, so additional buffer. They can afford for more to go wrong before they lose.

Now, let's look at each of the five states that got polled this week.

Of the two polls in Texas, one matched other recent surveys and was mostly favorable to the Democrats. The other showed clear Republican leads.

The net impact of the two polls on the averages was that Biden, Sanders, Warren, and Harris continued improving in Texas, while Buttigieg and O'Rourke got a little weaker.

You do get one piece of oddness, though. I use the methodology I described in my Polling Error vs. Final Margin post to translate margins into odds of winning. When I use the straight-up unsmoothed numbers from the 2008 to 2016 elections, there are a few places where the relationship between the polling average and the win odds are not monotonic.

This behavior means that even though O'Rourke's polling average dropped from a 2.1% lead to a 1.8% lead, my computed "odds of winning Texas" for O'Rourke INCREASED from 66.4% to 68.2%.

Now, I could have smoothed the handful of places where this non-monotonic behavior occurs out of existence. But I chose when I first set up the odds based view to use the numbers that came straight out of my analysis of the previous election results without any further manipulation.

Given the historical data and the methodology I used, a 1.8% Democratic lead is indeed slightly more likely to win than a 2.1% Democratic lead. Of course, this does seem a little crazy and is quite possibly just an example of overfitting.

But it isn't a huge difference and occurs at only a few specific margin zones, so I'll leave it be.

We still end up with a situation where three of the six Democrats are leading in Texas though, and another two make it close.

Texas continues to be one of the most important states to watch.

Sanders improved slightly in Pennsylvania.

Biden's lead deteriorated significantly.

Warren lost her lead to Trump.

The poll did not include the others.

Biden, Sanders, and Warren all weaken against Trump in Michigan with this week's update.

The poll did not include the others.

Warren got stronger in Wisconsin.

Biden and Sanders got weaker.

The poll did not include the others.

Biden, Sanders, Warren, and Harris all got weaker in New Hampshire with the latest polling.

The poll did not include Buttigieg or O'Rourke.

And that's it for this week's update.

415.6 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.

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