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 đťš«
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 đťš«
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.

Slow Week

Since last week's update, there have been new polls in Montana, Connecticut, and North Carolina.

Warren vs. Trump is now the "best-polled candidate combination" based on the metric I use, so it is now the default when you go to the Election Graphs 2020 Electoral College page, displacing Biden vs. Trump.

Overall this week, Biden weakened a little bit versus Trump, but he is so far ahead at the moment it doesn't make much difference. All of the other Democrats tracked here get a little bit stronger against Trump with this week's polling.

Looking at the categorization model first, only North Carolina made a difference:

Biden's lead decreased a bit. Sanders and Harris improved a lot. Warren and Buttigieg got a little stronger.

So how did this impact the national picture?

Let's look at some graphs to illustrate the changes.

  • Biden vs. Trump tipping point change: Biden by 5.1% in NC -> Biden by 4.4% in WI
  • Warren vs. Trump tipping point change: Trump by 0.1% in FL -> Trump by 0.1% in NC

  • Biden vs. Trump state category change: NC has moved from Strong Biden to Weak Biden
  • Trump best case vs. Biden has changed: Biden 283 to Trump 255 -> Biden 268 to Trump 270

So the categorization model once again has the "best case" in Biden vs. Trump include a Trump win if he wins ALL of the swing states because Biden's lead in North Carolina slipped to below the 5% mark, bringing it back into play.

  • Sanders vs. Trump state category change: NC has moved from Weak Trump to Weak Sanders
  • Sanders vs. Trump expected case change: Sanders 370 to Trump 168 -> Sanders 385 to Trump 153

In terms of the expected case, where everybody wins every state where they lead the average, with Sanders now taking the lead in North Carolina, he would win by 232 electoral votes, nearly matching Biden's 242 electoral vote margin in this scenario.

In this expected case, Biden and Sanders have substantial leads over Trump. Harris and Buttigieg have very narrow edges. (As does Sanders against Pence.) Warren loses to Trump.

The picture from the tipping point is very similar.

Time to flip to the probabilistic model. How do things look this week?

Since we were looking at the "expected case" in the categorization model, let's look at the median Monte Carlo result first:

Dem 6 Oct 13 Oct đťš«
Biden +170 +166 -4
Sanders +114 +124 +10
Warren +28 +30 +2
Buttigieg +22 +24 +2
Harris +18 +20 +2

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

Unlike the categorization view, all of the Democrats lead here, although we once again see a situation where Biden and Sanders have very substantial leads, while Warren, Buttigieg, and Harris have very narrow edges.

Biden slips just a little this week, while Sanders has the biggest gain in terms of the median electoral vote margin.

And now the odds:

Dem 6 Oct 13 Oct đťš«
Biden 99.9% 99.9% Flat
Sanders 97.3% 98.3% +1.0%
Warren 68.9% 70.6% +1.7%
Harris 64.0% 68.0% +4.0%
Buttigieg 66.5% 66.8% +0.3%

All of the above vs. Trump. Sanders vs. Pence flat at 72.8%.

Biden has a substantial enough lead that the little change this week doesn't have a notable impact on his percentage chances.

As Sanders' position in the various state polls continues to improve, he is rapidly catching Biden in terms of how solid his lead over Trump looks.

Harris improves the most this week, but Warren, Harris, and Buttigieg remain stuck in the high 60's, low 70's. Certainly favored to win over Trump, but by no means sure things.

To date, the most common explanation for this division has been name recognition. People know Biden and Sanders. Aside from political junkies, like anybody who might be reading this, "normal" people still aren't paying attention yet, and when polled about these other names may not have a good idea who they are.

The further along we get though, the less likely that is to explain things thoroughly. Now, some national polls have started to show that the gap between Warren and Biden in their performance vs. Trump has been decreasing as Warren gains in the Democratic primary competition. If so, this has been a relatively recent change, and will still take a while before we can see this in the state-level polls we look at here at Election Graphs.

If these kinds of differences persist when we get to actual caucus and primary voting in February, however, then it might be time to acknowledge that there could be real differences in how well the various Democratic candidates could be expected to fare in a general election.

386.6 days until polls start to close on Election Day 2020.

For more information:

This post is an update based on the data on the Election Graphs Electoral College 2020 page. Election Graphs tracks a poll-based estimate of the Electoral College. The charts, graphs, and maps in the post above are all as of the time of this post. Click through on any image 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 đťš«
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 đťš«
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.