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 šš«
Biden +254 +210 -44
Sanders +190 +118 -72
Warren +38 +48 +10
Harris +20 +20 Flat
Buttigieg +6 +6 Flat

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

Warren improves her position a little.

Harris and Buttigieg are flat.

Dem 1 Nov 20 Nov šš«
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 šš«
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 2Ļƒ range,Ā 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 šš«
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 aĀ 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.

Some Dems Up, Some Dems Down

Since last week's update,Ā 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. ThisĀ mix in the situation exists despite all of the actual category changes being in Trump's direction.

The movement within categoriesĀ 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 šš«
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 postĀ 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.

ThisĀ 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.

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.

Muddled Week

Since last week's update,Ā there have been new polls in New Hampshire, North Carolina, Alaska, and Washington.

In terms of category changes:

  • NH has moved from Strong Warren to Weak Warren
  • NC has moved from Weak Sanders to Weak Trump

That's it.

Biden's tipping point also moved from a 3.9% lead to a 3.4% lead.

All three of these changes are moves in Trump's direction. But if you look at the more granular changes, things are muddled, and it seems like a pretty flat week overall.

The national "win odds" from the probabilistic model now look like this:

In terms of changes since we looked last week:

Dem 11 Aug 18 Aug šš«
Biden 99.8% 99.7% -0.1%
Sanders 94.8% 94.1% -0.7%
O'Rourke 80.0% 80.0% Flat
Warren 65.8% 67.6% +1.8%
Buttigieg 62.4% 63.2% +0.8%
Harris 63.7% 62.9% -0.8%

Warren and Buttigieg improve a little bit.

Biden, Sanders, and Harris weaken a bit.

Harris drops to being the weakest of these six candidates against Trump.

O'Rourke doesn't move. But that is because none of the four polls this week even bothered to include him. Oops.

Let's look at each of these four states:

Biden is the only Democrat with a lead in North Carolina.

Before the Civitas poll added this week, Sanders had a very narrow lead in North Carolina as well. But although the Civitas poll was RELEASED this week, it had an earlier mid-date than the SurveyUSA poll that had given Sanders that lead last week, and so the Civitas poll (which showed a Trump lead) essentially erased that change from the chart.

The rest of the Democrats all lose to Trump, but narrowly.

The trends all show the Democrats generally improving as more polls come in though.

Except for Harris. She is getting weaker in North Carolina.

The Zogby poll added this week is the first general election polling for Washington State. Washington is a very blue state. But all five Democrats polled move the polling average to be even bluer than the 2000-2016 historical average.

It is of note that this is one of the very few states where Sanders does better against Trump than Biden does.

As usual, though, those two do noticeably better than the other Democrats.

Biden and Sanders have strong leads over Trump in New Hampshire. The other Democrats also lead, but by more narrow margins. The general trend as new polling comes in is toward the Democrats though.

Except for Warren's recent move in the other direction.

These are the very first Alaska polls this cycle.

Alaska is a very red state. But all five Democrats polled improve their Election Graphs averages over the historical average of the 2000-2016 elections that I use as a starting point before there are any polls.

As usual, Biden does best against Trump, followed by Sanders.

But Alaska is still a very red state.

And that is where things stand this week.

443.0 days until polls start to close.

For more information:

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

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

The First 2020 Polls

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Biden doing better than the other four Democrats in Texas.

Biden doing better than the other four Democrats in Ohio.

Biden doing better than the other four Democrats in Michigan.

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

Biden doing better than the other four Democrats in Arizona.

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

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

Biden doing better than the other four Democrats in Iowa.

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more informationā€¦

This post is an updateĀ based on the data on the Election Graphs Electoral College 2020 page. Election Graphs tracks a poll-based estimate of theĀ 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. FollowĀ @ElectionGraphsĀ on Twitter orĀ Election GraphsĀ on Facebook to see announcements of updates. For those interested in individual poll updates, followĀ @ElecCollPollsĀ on Twitter for all the polls as they are added. If you find the information in these posts interesting or useful, please consider visiting theĀ donation page.

The 2020 Starting Line

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is what that looks like at the starting line:

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

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

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

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

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

First up, here is the electoral college trend itself:

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

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

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

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

Next, the tipping point:

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

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

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

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

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

Of these category changes, only two favored the Democrats:

Every other category change was toward the Republicans:

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

The stage is set.

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

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

Here we go.