Harris and Buttigieg Struggling in Trump Matchups

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That's all the states.

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

The expected case changes:

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

And the tipping point changes were:

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

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

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

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

The Democrats that are winning decisively:

The Democrat who is leading, but narrowly:

The Democrats whose chances are a coin toss:

And that is where we are.

367.7 days until polls start to close.

For more information:

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

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

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 ūĚöę
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 ūĚöę
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.

Whoa, Look at Texas

Since the last update (not counting the update about new graphs) there have been new polls in Maine (All), South Carolina, Ohio, Michigan, Texas, and North Dakota.

Of those, only Texas and Michigan resulted in category changes for any of the six best-polled candidate pairs.

In Michigan, Buttigieg moved from a 6.4% lead to a weak 2.8% lead in the Election Graphs average.

In Texas, Sanders, Warren, and O'Rourke pulled Trump's lead down under 5% into the "weak" category in the Election Graphs average. Biden had already gotten there back in June.

Texas is the headline.

Trump's lead in Texas in the Election Graphs average is now down to under 5% for four of the six most polled Democrats against him. Only Buttigieg and Harris lag. But even they are trending stronger as more polls come in.

None of the averages show a Democratic lead in Texas. That would be seismic. However, at this point five of the six Democrats have at least one poll showing them ahead in Texas. (The exception is Buttigieg.)

Nobody would call Texas blue at this point. But it is trending purple. We have enough polls for enough candidates showing only narrow Republican leads (or even Democratic leads) to say that it looks competitive.

Now, what does competitive mean? Let's look at the "odds" view, where we use the historical performance of final Election Graphs averages to convert the poll margins into odds of victory:

Democrats making Texas "close" essentially means Trump has a noticeably less than 100% chance of winning.

Of these six Democrats, Buttigieg is weakest… ¬†with Trump still having a 99.2% chance of winning the state.

Biden is strongest, but Trump still has a 64.6% chance of winning Texas against him.

Now, that means Biden has a 35.4% shot, which is remarkable given where Texas has been in other cycles. But Trump is still favored.

Now is the time to once again mention that Election Graphs does not model how the race evolves. These "odds" are static snapshots in time. "If the election was today." The election is not even remotely today. Polls can swing wildly in just a matter of weeks, let alone the 15 months we still have until the general election.

This "closeness" in Texas could evaporate long before we get to November 2020. Or it could turn into a Democratic lead.

But it is clear that Texas is a state to watch, and Republicans will need to play defense there, and not take it for granted, as has often been the case in recent cycles.

Now, the national picture, where all the caveats above also apply:

This batch of polls changed the "Best Case" scenarios for Sanders, Warren, and O'Rourke in the category based ranges (their best cases now include winning Texas). But the "Expected Case" and "Tipping Point" did not change.

However, the new probabilistic based simulations do show changes worth reviewing.

This first chart shows the "median case" of the simulations, the spot where half the time the Republican does better, and half the time the Democrat does better.

Biden doing better than the rest of the pack stands out clearly. His median case is a 126 electoral vote margin over Trump. To put this in historical context, this would exactly match Obama's 2012 margin over Romney but be quite a bit less than Obama's 2008 margin over McCain.

Sanders also breaks out from the pack, doing considerably better than the other Democrats.

Both Biden and Sanders have improved their median positions significantly over the last few weeks covered by this batch of new polls.

Meanwhile, Warren, Buttigieg, O'Rourke, and Harris stay within a zone maintaining only small electoral college margins in the median case.

So, switching from looking at margins to looking at chances of winning:

Biden is pegged near the top right now. 99.6% chance of victory over Trump. There isn't that much room to improve, although weaker polls could certainly knock him off this pedestal.

Sanders clocks in second at an 89.0% chance of beating Trump.

Looking at the others, while they do have the upper hand on Trump, if this were election day, it wouldn't be fair to say it was anything other than "too close to call" with odds ranging from Warren at 58.2% to O'Rourke at 64.7%.

Election Graphs didn't have a probabilistic view in 2016, but the median "chance of Trump winning" from the sites that did was 14% going into Election Day. Only Biden and Sanders push Trump below that line at the moment.

So how have things been changing?

Comparing the odds of the Democrat winning from the update on June 23rd to where things stand now, we see this:

Dem 23 Jun 3 Aug ūĚöę
Biden 99.4% 99.6% +0.2%
Sanders 86.0% 89.0% +3.0%
Buttigieg 65.5% 62.9% -2.6%
Harris 62.3% 62.2% -0.1%
O'Rourke 50.5% 64.7% +14.2%
Warren 53.2% 58.2% +5.0%

The stand out is, of course, O'Rourke. His improvement is almost all due to his performance in the latest Texas poll, which was better than all other Democrats, and significantly better than his previous polling in the state as well. So he adds to his chances of winning Texas, which while still under 50%, is enough to boost his chances of taking the whole thing significantly.

Warren and Sanders also improved a bit. Buttigieg dropped a bit. And Biden and Harris are essentially flat.

Finally, a quick preview of a new chart type coming soon to Election Graphs:

It is the equivalent of the Electoral College trend chart based on the straight-up categorization of states based on who is ahead, but with the results of the probabilistic modeling.

The dark line represents the median electoral college result in the simulation. Then the bands represent result ranges at different levels of probability. The deeper the shade, the more likely the result.

This is a visual representation of the single candidate time series of the probabilistic summary now on the comparison page:

The text summary will also, of course, be added to the candidate national summary pages once I get a chance.

I also added little circles in a lot of the time series charts to highlight the current values better. I think it makes the charts clearer. Hope you like them.

In any case… 458.1 days until polls start to close. 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 to go to a page with the current interactive versions of that chart, along with additional details.

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

Trump Internal Polls All Good News For Biden

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

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

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

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

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

State Level:

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

National Level:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We have a long way to go.

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

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

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

As usual, Florida is a swing state.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Expressing the results as win odds instead:

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

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

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

Actually, they already have.

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

503.9 days until polls start to close.

For more information:

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

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

The First 2020 Polls

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Biden doing better than the other four Democrats in Texas.

Biden doing better than the other four Democrats in Ohio.

Biden doing better than the other four Democrats in Michigan.

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

Biden doing better than the other four Democrats in Arizona.

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

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

Biden doing better than the other four Democrats in Iowa.

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information…

This post is an update based on the data on the Election Graphs Electoral College 2020 page. Election Graphs tracks a poll-based estimate of the Electoral College. The charts, graphs, and maps in the post above are all as of the time of this post. Click through on any image to go to a page with the current interactive versions of that chart, along with additional details. Follow @ElectionGraphs on Twitter or Election Graphs on Facebook to see announcements of updates. For those interested in individual poll updates, follow @ElecCollPolls on Twitter for all the polls as they are added. If you find the information in these posts interesting or useful, please consider visiting the donation page.

The 2020 Starting Line

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is what that looks like at the starting line:

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

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

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

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

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

First up, here is the electoral college trend itself:

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

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

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

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

Next, the tipping point:

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

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

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

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

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

Of these category changes, only two favored the Democrats:

Every other category change was toward the Republicans:

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

The stage is set.

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

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

Here we go.