Biden Clinches

Some other places that count delegates had him there a day or two earlier, but by our count, the Virgin Islands put Biden over the top with Biden getting all 7 delegates there in today's update to the Election Graphs delegate race charts.

Sorry New York, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut, Kentucky, Louisiana, Puerto Rico, West Virginia, Delaware, and Guam…  your 780 delegates don't make any difference this year.

This seems like a good time to look at how the graph of "% of remaining delegates needed to win" ended up, and compare it to some of the previous cycles. So here goes:

The little loop in the graph there is from when New York gave all their delegates to Biden, but then there was a court battle and the delegates went back to TBD pending the New York primaries which now won't be until June 23rd.

Biden clinched with almost exactly 80% of the delegates determined.

Of the five contested races in both parties since 2008 when I started tracking these, three took longer than this (in terms of % of delegates, not calendar date) and two took less.

Looking at the charts, first the three that took longer to clinch:

Obama in 2008:

Trump in 2016:

Clinton in 2016:

Then the two that clinched faster:

Romney in 2012:

McCain in 2008:

And of course, lacking any competitive challengers, Obama in 2012 and Trump in 2020 both clinched at the 50% mark.

Our count of the totals on the day Biden clinched are as follows:

This will of course continue to change as those last 780 delegates get determined. And there may even still be some shifts in the 3199 already allocated as delegate selection plans wrap up before the convention.

As a simple example of this, when the initial count was over back in February, the delegate count in Iowa was:

  • Buttigieg 14
  • Sanders 12
  • Warren 8
  • Biden 6
  • Klobuchar 1

But when candidates dropped out and were no longer vying for delegates in the later parts of the delegate selection process, statewide delegates from the candidates who dropped out were reassigned to Biden. As of today, Iowa looks like this:

  • Biden 14
  • Sanders 12
  • Buttigieg 9
  • Warren 5
  • Klobuchar 1

So after all this, Biden wins Iowa after all.

And of course, since they can't make a difference to the outcome, the superdelegates will get to vote on the first ballot too. So any full delegate count coming from the convention (virtual or otherwise) will be a bit different than what we have here, which just counted pledged delegates.

As more updates come in, we'll add them as updates to the end of this post.

We declared things "almost done" on March 11th, and "over" on March 18th, but now we are really "done done" absent something catastrophic that causes Biden to leave the race prematurely.

So there we are.

71.0 days until the Democratic National Convention.

78.0 days until the Republican National Convention.

Update 2020-06-08 04:16 UTC: Results from Guam today: Biden 5, Sanders 2. Also an update from PA: One delegate moves from Sanders to Biden. New totals: Biden 1997, Sanders 1063, Others 146.

Update 2020-06-09 04:16 UTC: Update from Arkansas: Bloomberg loses two delegates to Biden. New totals: Biden 1999, Sanders 1063, Others 144.

Update 2020-06-10 04:01 UTC: Today we have the results from Georgia and West Virginia. It looks like Biden will get all 133 delegates. New totals: Biden 2132, Sanders 1063, Others 144.

Update 2020-06-11 15:51 UTC: Not a delegate update, but a quick correction. Above I said, "And of course, since they can't make a difference to the outcome, the superdelegates will get to vote on the first ballot too.". This is slightly premature. For the superdelegates to vote on the first ballot, Biden has to have enough pledged delegates to have a majority of ALL delegates, which would be 2378 pledged delegates out of 4753 total delegates (rather than 1991 pledged delegates out of 3979 pledged delegates). So he is still 246 delegates short of that threshold, although he will probably get there before the end. For more details on this, see this FHQ post.

Update 2020-06-24 07:08 UTC: Today we have initial results from Kentucky and New York. Biden 250, Sanders 57. There are 21 delegates TBD in Kentucky which may end up officially uncommitted. New totals: Biden 2382, Sanders 1120, Others 144.

Update 2020-06-25 05:28 UTC: Today we have updates from Kentucky and New York. Biden gains 4 delegates, Sanders loses 3. New totals: Biden 2386, Sanders 1117, Others 144.

Update 2020-06-26 16:21 UTC: Today we have another update from Kentucky. Biden gains 8 more delegates, Sanders gains 2. Looks like 10 delegates will be officially uncommitted.  New totals: Biden 2394, Sanders 1119, Others 144.

Update 2020-06-27 16:45 UTC: Today we have an update from New York. Biden loses one delegate to Sanders. New Totals: Biden 2393, Sanders 1120, Others 144, TBD 322.

Update 2020-06-29 03:46 UTC: Today an update from Kentucky. Biden gains one more delegate. New Totals: Biden 2394, Sanders 1120, Others 144, TBD 321.

Update 2020-07-01 02:35 UTC: An update from Kentucky today. Biden gains 9 delegates, Sanders loses 2. New totals: Biden 2403, Sanders 1118, Others 144, TBD 314.

Update 2020-07-07 05:45 UTC: An update from New York. Biden pulls one delegate from Sanders. New totals: Biden 2404, Sanders 1117, Others 144, TBD 314.

Update 2020-07-08 06:41 UTC: Initial results from New Jersey and Delaware have Biden getting all 147 delegates from the two states. New totals: Biden 2551, Sanders 1117, Others 144, TBD 167.

Update 2020-07-12 15:33 UTC: Initial results are in from Louisiana, and it looks like Biden will be getting all 54 delegates. New totals: Biden 2605, Sanders 1117, Others 144, TBD 113.

Update 2020-07-13 04:52 UTC: Initial results are in from Puerto Rico: Biden 44, Sanders 4, Bloomberg 3. New totals: Biden 2649, Sanders 1121, Others 147, TBD 62. Only Connecticut left. And 2 uncommitted delegates from Kentucky.

Update 2020-07-17 18:20 UTC: Logged an update from Rhode Island where a delegate moved from Sanders to Biden, and an update from Puerto Rico where a delegate moved from Biden to Sanders. No net change: Biden 2649, Sanders 1121, Others 147, TBD 62. Only Connecticut left. And 2 uncommitted delegates from Kentucky.

Update 2020-07-22 23:10 UTC: One delegate in Puerto Rico moves from Bloomberg to Biden. New totals: Biden 2650, Sanders 1121, Others 146, TBD 62.

Update 2020-08-03 04:17: Logged updates today from New Jersey and Puerto Rico. Net change, Biden lost 11 delegates, 3 went to Sanders, and 8 went to… Bloomberg. New totals: Biden 2639, Sanders 1124, Others 154, TBD 62. Only Connecticut left. And 2 uncommitted delegates from Kentucky.

Update 2020-08-06 23:30: Update from Puerto Rico today. 8 delegates move from Bloomberg to Biden. New totals: Biden 2647, Sanders, 1124, Others 146, TBD 62. Only Connecticut left. And 2 uncommitted delegates from Kentucky.

Update 2020-08-08 20:20: Today's delegate estimate update is from New Jersey. Two delegates shift from Biden to Sanders. New totals: Biden 2645, Sanders 1126, Others 146, TBD 62. Only Connecticut left. And 2 uncommitted delegates from Kentucky.

For more information:

This post is an update based on the data on the Election Graphs 2020 Delegate Race page. Election Graphs tracks estimates of the convention delegate totals for both parties. The charts, graphs, and maps in the post above are all as of the time of this post. Click through on any image for the current interactive versions of that chart, along with additional details.

Follow @ElectionGraphs on Twitter or Election Graphs on Facebook to see announcements of new blog posts. For those interested in more granular updates of delegate updates or general election polling, follow @ElecCollPolls on Twitter. If you find the information in these posts informative or useful, please consider visiting the donation page.

Crisis Bump?

Since the last update on the general election on March 16th, there have been new polls in Arizona (x2), Ohio (x2), Florida (x3), Connecticut, Michigan (x5), Pennsylvania (x2), Wisconsin (x3), New York, California, and Georgia.

Most attention in the just over three weeks since that post has been on the coronavirus pandemic rather than electoral politics, so doing an update here sort of fell a bit on the to-do list. But since the back and forth with executive actions and court battles finished, and there actually is a primary in Wisconsin with in-person voting happening today, it is a good time for an update.

Before I start, some housekeeping. I am very tempted at this point to simply report on Biden vs. Trump. As discussed in the last update on the Democratic nomination, at this point, a Sanders comeback to win the nomination would require something catastrophic. Something of the magnitude of Biden having to drop out due to health reasons. There is no realistic path based only on Sanders doing an excellent job making his case. Biden would have to implode in some substantial way.

However, I've decided to continue to report here on the comparisons between Biden vs. Trump and Sanders vs. Trump as long as the following are all true:

  • It is still mathematically possible for both of them to win the nomination
  • Neither one has dropped out
  • There is new polling with both candidates

So we'll keep looking at Sanders vs. Trump too, at least for the moment.

With all of that said, the last three weeks have not been kind to the Democrats, but they have been especially bad to Sanders.

It looks like a lot of close states moved toward Trump. This is potentially a "crisis bump" where folks rally around the leader during a traumatic national incident. The pandemic certainly qualifies as that sort of event.

In Sander's case, there may also simply be movement because, with his losses in the Democratic primary, he is not perceived as being as strong as he was before. And he was weaker to begin with.

Let's take a look at our four main metrics and see how things look:

Dem 16 Mar 7 Apr 𝚫
Biden +166 +126 -40
Sanders +144 +26 -118

Starting with just the expected case, if everybody wins all the states where they lead in the Election Graphs average, we see that both Democrats have lost a lot of ground.

So, over the last three weeks, Biden went from being just a little ahead in Pennsylvania (20 EV), to being just a little bit behind. That's a 40 EV net loss in margin.

Sanders also lost his small lead in Pennsylvania. But in addition, he lost his leads in Florida (29 EV) and Wisconsin (10 EV). So that's an additional 78 electoral votes of margin lost for a total of 118 EV of margin lost.

Biden started with a bigger lead as well. So this view now has Biden leading Trump by 126 electoral votes, while Sanders's lead is now a very narrow 26 electoral votes. Still ahead, but suddenly a very close race.

Just from a handful of states slipping just a little bit.

How does this look in the more sophisticated probabilistic view that knows that being 1% ahead in a state is different than being 2% ahead in a state?

Dem 16 Mar 7 Apr 𝚫
Biden +116 +98 -18
Sanders +64 +10 -54

Because there are so many states that were just barely on the Democratic side of the line, the median cases in the probabilistic view are both narrower than the more naive view. This is because it would be very easy for those states to go the other direction.

The impact from the polls these last three weeks is similarly a bit smaller. But directionally the same. Weakening for both Democrats, with a bigger fall for Sanders.

And the median case for Sanders is now very close indeed. Still winning, but only by a very slim electoral vote margin.

Dem 16 Mar 7 Apr 𝚫
Biden 98.3% 96.2% -2.1%
Sanders 87.0% 56.1% -30.9%

In terms of the odds of winning, the impact is much more dramatic. Sanders moves from a position that wasn't quite as strong as Biden, but still very respectable, to being barely a better bet than a coin toss.

While Biden drops a bit as well, to his worst position in over a year, the change for Sanders is a very large drop in a very short time to his worst performance since 2020 polling began. It is a stunningly large drop.

Or is it?

Remember, everything presented here is "if the election is held today." It shows the odds based on the historical accuracy of the Election Graphs averages as they stand when the election happens. So, for instance, right now Biden leads Florida by 2.5%. That translates into a 69.8% chance of Biden winning the state…  if Biden's lead remains 2.5%.

These odds do not take into account the chances of the lead in the state changing over time. We provide a snapshot in time, not a projection into the future.

If there are enough close states, then small moves in those states can make a big difference quickly.

Dem 16 Mar 7 Apr 𝚫
Biden +2.8% +2.8% Flat
Sanders +1.4% +0.5% -0.9%

The tipping point is the metric we use to understand how big a change it would take to flip the winner.

Three weeks ago Sanders's tipping point was only 1.4%. So a very small shift in the critical states would be enough to put Trump in the lead nationally. The last three weeks provided more than half of that shift.

Sanders now teeters on the edge of losing his overall lead to Trump. Sanders winning against Trump now relies on an incredibly slim 0.5% lead in the poll average in Ohio. A tiny movement in one state would result in a Trump win.

Of course, it seems like maybe the 56.1% chance of winning reflects that. That leaves a 42.0% chance of a Trump win (and a 1.9% chance of a tie). But no, that only reflects the chance of a Trump win given that Sanders leads Ohio by 0.5% and his margins in all the other states. We don't try to estimate the chances of moves in the polls in one direction or the other.

So what about Biden's 96.2% chance of winning? How secure is that?

Not very. The tipping point is only 2.8%.

Looking at the specific states, it is not just one state that has to flip like the Sanders case. Instead, five states have to flip to the Trump side to change the winner. Which seems like a lot.

But the margins are really small. All of these states are super close. Biden leads, but barely. If the polls were like this on election day, Biden would very likely win. That's what the 96.2% represents.

But there is a long way to go between now and election day.

210.2 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 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.

Yeah. Done Here. Over.

Arizona, Florida, and Illinois add to the delegate totals as a result of primaries on March 17th. Although initially scheduled for the same day, Ohio's governor and health department delayed that state's election due to the coronavirus pandemic. Even without Ohio, there was a nice haul of 441 delegates for the evening.

Going into the evening, Biden needed at least 223 of those delegates (50.52%), to be on a winning pace. By contrast, Sanders needed 255 delegates (57.78%).

We had discussed after the March 10th states how this was an almost unreachable bar for Sanders. That winning at that level would require a seismic change in the state of the race.

No such massive realignment happened. Although exact delegate totals will continue to shift as counts become final, as of election night, the March 17th results look like:

  • Biden 294 (66.7%)
  • Sanders 147 (33.3%)

Biden significantly exceeded the marks he needed. Sanders came nowhere near where he would have had to have been.

Everybody else other than Biden and Sanders has now been mathematically eliminated.

Looking at the "% of Remaining Delegates Needed" chart, you can see that Biden's curve heads downward, while Sanders's is clearly on a dramatic upswing.

At this point, Sanders would need 64.19% of the remaining delegates to catch up and win.  Absent scenarios where Biden drops out for health reasons, or something just as catastrophic, there is no reasonable scenario where Sanders wins the remaining races by an average 64% to 36% margin.

We'll keep tracking things, just in case something extraordinary does happen. Because after all, given how 2020 is going, you never know.

But really, the Democratic race is over now. It was a stretch not to say that a week ago. But now, it is undeniably over.

Biden will be the Democratic nominee.

Oh. And look at this…

Although Weld did earn a single solitary delegate along the way (who may or may not make it to the convention floor), Trump clinched the Republican nomination with the March 17th results.

So we're looking at Biden vs. Trump for the general election.

As of the morning of March 18th, that race looks like this:

117.3 days until the Democratic National Convention.

159.3 days until the Republican National Convention.

230.5 days until polls start to close on Election Night 2020.

The real race is just beginning. Get ready.

Update 2020-03-19 00:51 UTC: Today Bloomberg gives up 2 California delegates to Biden. New totals: Biden 1215, Sanders 912, Others 171. Biden needs 46.16% of the remaining delegates to win. Sanders needs 64.19%.

Update 2020-03-20 02:39 UTC: Today Biden gives up 1 California delegate to Sanders. New totals: Biden 1214, Sanders 913, Others 171. Biden needs 46.22% of the remaining delegates to win. Sanders needs 64.13%.

Update 2020-03-23 00:19 UTC: Today Warren gives up 1 Utah delegate to Sanders. New Totals: Biden 1214, Sanders 914, Others 170. Biden needs 46.22% of the remaining delegates to win. Sanders needs 64.07%.

Update 2020-03-24 00:20 UTC: Today Warren and Bloomberg give up 2 delegates each in Utah. Of those Sanders gets 3 and Biden gets 1. New totals: Biden 1215, Sanders 917, Others 166. Biden needs 46.16% of the remaining delegates to win. Sanders needs 63.89%.

Update 2020-03-25 00:42 UTC: Today we have results from Democrats Abroad: Sanders 9, Biden 4. In addition some revisions to Maine, North Carolina, Utah, and Washington netting: Bloomberg +3, Biden +1, Sanders -1, Warren -3. New totals: Biden 1220, Sanders 925, Others 166. Biden needs 46.22% of the remaining delegates to win. Sanders needs 63.91%.

Update 2020-03-29 04:35 UTC: Updates today from California, Massachusetts, and North Carolina. Net change: Biden +3, Warren -1, Bloomberg -2. New totals: Biden 1223, Sanders 925, Others 163. Biden needs 46.04% of the remaining delegates to win. Sanders needs 63.91%.

Update 2020-03-30 09:18 UTC: Updates today from Virginia and Florida. Net Change: Biden +1, Warren +1, Sanders -2. New totals: Biden 1224, Sanders 923, Others 164. Biden needs 45.98% of the remaining delegates to win. Sanders needs 64.03%.

Update 2020-04-01 02:27 UTC: One delegate in Massachusetts moves from Warren to Sanders in today's update to the estimate. New totals: Biden 1224, Sanders 924, Others 163. Biden needs 45.98% of the remaining delegates to win. Sanders needs 63.97%.

Update 2020-04-02 00:20 UTC: In today's update to our estimates, one delegate in Virginia moves from Warren to Biden. New totals: Biden 1225, Sanders 924, Others 162. Biden needs 45.92% of the remaining delegates to win. Sanders needs 63.97%.

Update 2020-04-13 03:51 UTC: Today we added results from Alaska. Biden won 8 delegates, Sanders won 7. Also an update from Texas, with Sanders giving up 3 delegates, 2 to Biden, 1 to Bloomberg. New totals: Biden 1235, Sanders 928, Others 163. Biden needs 45.74% of the remaining delegates to win. Sanders needs 64.31%.

Update 2020-04-14 17:32 UTC: Today we added results from Wisconsin. Biden won 57 delegates, Sanders won 27. New totals: Biden 1292, Sanders 955, Others 163. Biden needs 44.55% of the remaining delegates to win. Sanders needs 66.03%. Sanders also officially dropped out since yesterday's update.

Update 2020-04-18 02:03 UTC: An update from Idaho today. Biden takes another delegate from Sanders. New totals: Biden 1293, Sanders 954, Others 163. Biden needs 44.49% of the remaining delegates to win. Sanders needs 66.09%.

Update 2020-04-20 16:08 UTC: Today we add the results from Wyoming. Biden won 10 delegates, Sanders won 4. New totals: Biden 1302, Sanders 958, Others 163. Biden needs 44.24% of the remaining delegates to win. Sanders needs 66.43%.

Update 2020-04-28 03:11 UTC: Today New York canceled their primary since all but one candidate has dropped out. They gave all 274 delegates to Biden. In addition, an update to the Arizona totals, moving one delegate from Biden to Sanders. New totals: Biden 1576, Sanders 959, Others 163. Biden needs 32.40% of the remaining delegates to win. Sanders needs 80.56%.

Update 2020-04-29 15:57 UTC: Adding in the results from Ohio: Biden 155, Sanders 21. In addition, one delegate moves from Warren to Sanders in California. New totals: Biden 1691, Sanders 981, Others 162. Biden needs 26.20% of the remaining delegates to win. Sanders needs 88.21%.

Update 2020-05-04 03:04 UTC: Today we get the results for Kansas: Biden 29, Sanders 10. New totals: Biden 1720, Sanders 991, Others 162. Biden needs 24.50% of the remaining delegates to win. Sanders needs 90.42%.

Update 2020-05-06 15:47 UTC: In today's update, a court ruled that NY's decision to cancel their primary and give all the delegates to Biden was invalid and a primary should happen after all. So Biden loses 274 delegates. New totals: Biden 1446, Sanders 991, Others 162. Biden needs 39.49% of the remaining delegates to win. Sanders needs 72.46%.

Update 2020-05-13 05:11 UTC: Today we have results for Nebraska. 29 delegates for Biden. New totals: Biden 1475, Sanders 991, Others 162. Biden needs 38.19% of the remaining delegates to win. Sanders needs 74.02%.

Update 2020-05-15 04:05 UTC: Today an update in Wisconsin moving one delegate from Biden to Sanders. New totals: Biden 1474, Sanders 992, Others 162. Biden needs 38.27% of the remaining delegates to win. Sanders needs 73.95%.

Update 2020-05-18 01:06 UTC: Today Massachusetts moves 8 delegates from Warren to Biden. New totals: Biden 1482, Sanders, 992, Others 154. Biden needs 37.68% of the remaining delegates to win. Sanders needs 73.95%.

Update 2020-05-20 16:20 UTC: Today we have results from Oregon: Biden 47, Sanders 14. New totals: Biden 1529, Sanders 1006, Others 154. Biden needs 35.81% of the remaining delegates to win. Sanders needs 76.36%.

Update 2020-05-21 02:44 UTC: Update from Oregon. One delegate moves from Biden to Sanders. New totals: Biden 1528, Sanders 1007, Others 154.  Biden needs 35.89% of the remaining delegates to win. Sanders needs 76.28%.

Update 2020-05-24 19:18 UTC: Today we have results from Hawaii: Biden 16, Sanders 8. New totals: Biden 1544, Sanders 1015, Others 154. Biden needs 35.31% of the remaining delegates to win. Sanders needs 77.09%.

Update 2020-06-03 19:08 UTC: Today we have updates from DC, IN, MD, MT, NM, PA, RI, and SD: Biden 424, Sanders 55. New totals: Biden 1968, Sanders 1070, Others 154. With that Sanders is mathematically eliminated from winning the nomination absent other candidates losing delegates. Biden still needs 2.92% of the remaining delegates to clinch though.

Update 2020-06-05 04:53 UTC: Updates from Indiana and New Mexico today. Net change, one delegate moves from Biden to Sanders. New totals: Biden 1967, Sanders 1071, Others 154. All other candidates have been mathematically eliminated, but Biden still needs 3.05% of the remaining delegates to clinch.

Update 2020-06-06 16:18 UTC: Updates from IA, IN, PA, and RI today. Net Change: Biden +17, Warren -3, Buttigieg -5, Sanders -9. New Totals: Biden 1984, Sanders 1062, Others 146. Some places already have Biden over the magic number, but in our count, he still needs 7 more delegates.

Update 2020-06-07 17:42 UTC: Some places had him there yesterday, but by our count, the Virgin Islands puts Biden over the top today as he gets all 7 delegates there. New totals: Biden 1991, Sanders 1062, Others 146.

For more information:

This post is an update based on the data on the Election Graphs 2020 Delegate Race page. Election Graphs tracks estimates of the convention delegate totals for both parties. The charts, graphs, and maps in the post above are all as of the time of this post. Click through on any image for the current interactive versions of that chart, along with additional details.

Follow @ElectionGraphs on Twitter or Election Graphs on Facebook to see announcements of new blog posts. For those interested in more granular updates of delegate updates or general election polling, follow @ElecCollPolls on Twitter. If you find the information in these posts informative or useful, please consider visiting the donation page.

And Then There Were Two

Since the last post about the general election a week ago on March 9th, there have been new polls in Arizona (x4), Michigan (x4), Pennsylvania (x2), Wisconsin (x3), North Dakota, Florida, Washington, Oklahoma, Iowa, and Kansas.

For the moment, although Sanders's chances are dim, there are still two candidates, so let's run through our usual charts, looking at just the two of them, and how things have changed since last week.

Let's start with the categorization view where we just see what the results would be if each candidate wins precisely the list of states where they lead in our poll averages.

Dem 9 Mar 16 Mar 𝚫
Biden +124 +166 +42
Sanders +124 +144 +20

Both Democrats improve, but they no longer have identical maps. Since last week, both candidates flipped Wisconsin into the blue zone, but Biden also flipped Arizona.

What does that look like when you move to the more complicated probabilistic model?

The following shows the median case (half the time the Democrats do better than this, half the time Trump does better than this):

Dem 9 Mar 16 Mar 𝚫
Biden +116 +116 Flat
Sanders +66 +64 -2

Both candidates improved when you just give everybody the states they lead. But when you take into account all of the poll movements, the median cases in the simulation barely change. Biden is flat; Sanders declines a bit.

Why? Because even though Biden and Sanders improved and pushed a couple of states over the centerline, other close states moved in the opposite direction, without changing their broad category.

Understanding this situation is the advantage of the probabilistic model. A 1% lead in a state is not the same as a 2% lead, is not the same as a 3% lead, even though they all fit into the "weak lead" category.

So what about the odds?

Dem 9 Mar 16 Mar 𝚫
Biden 98.3% 98.3% Flat
Sanders 87.9% 87.0% -0.9%

Like the median case, Biden is flat; Sanders is down a little.

Similarly, Biden has always had a better position against Trump than Sanders, but both of them are relatively strong.

Dem 9 Mar 16 Mar 𝚫
Biden +2.8% +2.8% Flat
Sanders +1.5% +1.4 -0.1%

Let's end with the tipping point though. The odds view is "if the election is held today". The tipping point shows how much polls need to shift to change the outcome.

Biden is the stronger of the two candidates against Trump. We have him at a 98.3% chance of winning if the election was today. But the tipping point is only a 2.8% Biden lead.

2.8% is a very small lead.

2.8% can easily be erased with a week of bad news.

98.3% now does not mean 98.3% in November.

But that is where things are today.

232.7 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 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.

Almost Done Here

So Michigan, Washington, Missouri, Mississippi, Idaho, and North Dakota got to add their delegates to the totals. The vote counting for last night, and for that matter, Super Tuesday, continues, so the delegate numbers will still be adjusted over the next few days, but we have a pretty good idea h0w things went.

As of the update at the end of yesterday's post, Biden needed 184 of last night's 352 delegates to be on track to win the nomination, while Sanders would need 196 of those delegates.

So how did that go? As of right now, the delegates awarded last night split like this:

  • Biden 211
  • Sanders 137
  • Bloomberg 2
  • Warren 1
  • 1 still TBD

Biden easily hit his mark. Sanders came nowhere near where he needed to be.

So what do our "% of Remaining Delegates Needed" lines look like?

Remember on this chart, heading down is good, heading up is bad. If you hit 100%, you are mathematically eliminated; if you hit 0%, you clinch the nomination.

Biden is down nicely, dropping from 52.14% to 50.82%.

Meanwhile, Sanders increased from 55.40% to 58.10%.

All the other candidates are racing rapidly toward mathematical elimination.

The 55.40% number was already a very high bar for Sanders.

Given the two-person race and the current state of polling, it was hard to imagine Sanders consistently winning the rest of the primary season by a 55% to 45% margin. That is now bumped up to a 58% to 42% margin.

Is this mathematically impossible? No. Of course not. We're not at the point where Sanders would be mathematically eliminated.

So are there realistic situations we can imagine where this might happen?

Yes.

You can still imagine situations where this would happen. But given current polling in upcoming states and nationwide, the scenarios that result in a Sanders comeback are increasingly extreme.

At this point, you can't get there through "normal" changes and fluctuations; you need an extreme massive change.

Of course, before completely dismissing that possibility, one has to note that exactly that sort of extreme massive change has happened before. Folks may have to strain their memories, the last time this happened was, uh… two weeks ago.

After the Nevada caucuses on February 22nd, Biden was plummeting in the polls, and things looked incredibly bleak for him. People were talking about how it would take a miracle to revive his campaign.

Then a post-Nevada anti-Sanders backlash began.

Then Biden crushed South Carolina.

Then Super Tuesday.

And now the March 10th contests.

This has widely been noted as among the most dramatic reversals in polling trends anybody has ever seen. That kind of change is very very rare.

For Sanders to change this picture, that same sort of dramatic reversal would have to happen AGAIN.

What kinds of things might produce that sort of change?

Almost certainly there is nothing that Sanders himself could do to bring it about. You would need a collapse from the Biden side.

Perhaps an actual physical collapse could do it. With the coronavirus scare in full swing, if Biden were to catch it and be disabled by it, that might do it. Maybe a debate performance that was not just bad, but embarrassingly horribly bad could do it too. Something like Bloomberg's disastrous debate. But worse. Maybe.

But you really do have to stretch the imagination to conjure up scenarios where Sanders goes from collecting 40.76% of the delegates so far, to suddenly consistently getting over 58.10% of the remaining delegates, even though his polling doesn't even remotely approach those numbers.

In our summary right after Super Tuesday, we listed the worst positions candidates over the last few cycles had been in prior to going on to win. In terms of the % of remaining delegates needed to win, it looked like this:

  • 50.02% – Clinton's worst spot in 2016
  • 50.29% – Romney's worst spot in 2012
  • 51.84% – McCain's worst spot in 2008
  • 53.02% – Obama's worst spot in 2008
  • 57.41% – Trump's worst spot in 2016

Sanders is now at 58.10%. That is worse off than any eventually winning candidate has been since we started doing delegate tracking in 2008. The only one even close was Trump in 2016, but he had the advantage of the Republican winner-take-all states. The Democrats do not do winner-takes-all.

Absent really outlandish scenarios, Sanders is done here.

To be generous, lots of folks are saying that maybe Biden needs one more set of states… Florida, Illinois, Ohio, and Arizona on March 17th… before we can really say Sanders is done and Biden has won this thing. And it won't be mathematically over until even later.

But really, we're already almost done here.

124.2 days until the Democratic National Convention.

166.2 days until the Republican National Convention.

Update 2020-03-12 01:51 UTC: Delegate updates from CA, CO, MI, and ND today. Sanders gains 9 delegates, 8 from Bloomberg, 1 that was previously TBD. The percentage of remaining delegates needed by Sanders drops from 58.10% to 57.71%. Which is still very high.

Update 2020-03-13 01:11 UTC: Delegate estimate updates from CA and WA today. Biden gains 4 delegates, 2 from Warren, 1 from Sanders, and 1 from Bloomberg. The percentage of remaining delegates needed by Sanders rises from 57.71% to 57.75%.

Update 2020-03-14 02:11 UTC: Delegate estimate updates from CA, CO, MI, and WA today. Sanders loses 7 delegates, giving 4 to Warren and 3 to Bloomberg. The percentage of remaining delegates needed by Sanders rises from 57.75% to 58.08%.

Update 2020-03-15 01:43 UTC: Delegate estimate update today from CA: Bloomberg gives 2 delegates to Biden, and Sanders gives 1 delegate to Warren. In addition, we have results from the Northern Marianas: Sanders 4, Biden 2. So the new overall totals are: Biden 917, Sanders 758, Warren 91, Bloomberg 56, Buttigieg 26, Klobuchar 7, Gabbard 2. The percentage of remaining delegates needed by Sanders rises from 58.08% to 58.11%.

Update 2020-03-16 02:56 UTC: Delegate update today from WA: Biden loses 3 delegates, 2 to Warren, 1 to Sanders. New overall totals are Biden 914, Sanders 759, Warren 93, Bloomberg 56, Buttigieg 26, Klobuchar 7, Gabbard 2. The percentage of remaining delegates needed by Sanders drops from 58.11% to 58.06%.

Update 2020-03-17 00:51 UTC: Delegate update from CA: Warren loses 1 delegate to Biden. New overall totals are Biden 915, Sanders 759, Warren 92, Bloomberg 56, Buttigieg 26, Klobuchar 7, Gabbard 2. Sanders still needs 58.06% of the remaining delegates. Biden only needs 50.71%.

Update 2020-03-18 00:36 UTC: Today California continues to count votes, while Colorado reallocates the statewide delegates that had been assigned to candidates who have dropped out. Net Change: Sanders +6, Biden +4, Bloomberg -5, Warren -5. New overall totals are Biden 919, Sanders 765, Warren 87, Bloomberg 51, Buttigieg 26, Klobuchar 7, Gabbard 2. Sanders now needs 57.78% of the remaining delegates. Biden only needs 50.52%. March 17th primary results incoming momentarily. Further updates will be on that post.

For more information:

This post is an update based on the data on the Election Graphs 2020 Delegate Race page. Election Graphs tracks estimates of the convention delegate totals for both parties. The charts, graphs, and maps in the post above are all as of the time of this post. Click through on any image for the current interactive versions of that chart, along with additional details.

Follow @ElectionGraphs on Twitter or Election Graphs on Facebook to see announcements of new blog posts. For those interested in more granular updates of delegate updates or general election polling, follow @ElecCollPolls on Twitter. If you find the information in these posts informative or useful, please consider visiting the donation page.

Super Tuesday Delegate Update

On March 4th, we posted an initial delegate status after Super Tuesday, but we noted that results were preliminary and would continue to shift and change as the votes got counted. That process is ongoing. It will be quite some time yet before those results are final.

But since in just a few hours we'll be in the thick of reporting delegate results for a new set of states, it seems like a good time to review how things have changed since the immediate election night results.

Bottom line, as the counting continued, Bloomberg lost lots of delegates to Biden, Sanders, and Warren.

Here is a quick before and after for the total delegates so far:

Dem 4 Mar 𝚫 9 Mar
Biden 667 +26 693
Sanders 581 +35 616
Bloomberg 140 -70 70
Warren 76 +9 85
Buttigieg 26 0 26
Klobuchar 7 0 7
Gabbard 2 0 2

So while Bloomberg did comparatively well in the vote that came in and was counted on election night, as later ballots came in, his delegate haul was cut in half.

Of those delegates, a full half ended up redistributed to Sanders, followed by Biden, then Warren.

I usually prefer looking at the charts of "% of delegates remaining needed to win," using "% of delegates allocated so far" on the x-axis. Still, in this case, it is useful to look at a chart showing delegate totals with the date on the x-axis:

You can see the spike up for Bloomberg on election night, followed by those delegates draining away over the next few days, with Bloomberg eventually falling below Warren in the delegate totals, while both Biden and Sanders benefit from Bloomberg's losses.

Since Sanders got the lion's share of the delegates Bloomberg gave up, he closed the gap between himself and Biden from 86 delegates to 77 delegates.

But the raw number of delegates doesn't matter here. It is time to think once again about the percentage of the remaining delegates they need to win. And what that means for the 352 delegates allocated on March 10th.

With the election night estimate, Biden needed 53.39% of the remaining delegates to win (188 of the 352 on March 10th), while Sanders needed 56.85% of them (201 of the 352 on March 10th).

Updated with several additional days of vote counting, Biden needs 52.34% of the remaining delegates to win (185 of the 352 on March 10th), while Sanders needs 55.44% of them (196 of the 352 on March 10th).

While the numbers change a little bit, the overall picture remains the same.

Although mathematically still possible, the chances for a contested convention have almost disappeared. We will probably end up with a winner on the first ballot. With the current numbers, that is a lot easier for Biden than it will be for Sanders.

If you consider not just the pure mathematics of the current position described above, but also the current polling, the picture gets even more dire for Sanders.

So as returns come in from the March 10th contests, ignore who wins what states, and look at the total delegate numbers. Does either Biden or Sanders meet the marks listed above? Do both "% of remaining needed" lines continue to go up? Or does one swing down? If one goes up, does it go up high enough that a comeback is ridiculously unlikely?

We will do a blog post here once the election night results have stabilized. If you want hourly updates of the delegate counts, follow @ElecCollPolls on Twitter as well.

We'll know in just a few hours if Biden has wrapped this thing up, or if Sanders manages to keep the contest going.

125.4 days until the Democratic National Convention.

167.4 days until the Republican National Convention.

Update 2020-03-11 00:31 UTC – Of course, me posting about it does not stop the vote counting. Since the above, Bloomberg loses 8 more delegates. Of those 5 go to Biden, 2 go to Warren, and 1 goes to Sanders. Biden now needs 52.14% (184 of tonight's 352 delegates) to be on pace for a majority. Sanders now needs 55.40% (196 of tonight's 352 delegates) to be on pace for a majority.

For more information:

This post is an update based on the data on the Election Graphs 2020 Delegate Race page. Election Graphs tracks estimates of the convention delegate totals for both parties. The charts, graphs, and maps in the post above are all as of the time of this post. Click through on any image for the current interactive versions of that chart, along with additional details.

Follow @ElectionGraphs on Twitter or Election Graphs on Facebook to see announcements of new blog posts. For those interested in more granular updates of delegate updates or general election polling, follow @ElecCollPolls on Twitter. If you find the information in these posts informative or useful, please consider visiting the donation page.

The Field Is Winnowed

Since the last general election update on February 29th, there have been new state-level polls in Texas (x3), North Carolina (x3), Colorado, Florida, California (x2), Virginia, Georgia, Mississippi, Maine, Arizona, Utah, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

Although, as always, not all the polls individually go the same direction, in aggregate, this was a very good set of polling for the Democrats. Or to be more precise, the new results tended to be better for the Democrats than the older polls they displaced from the Election Graphs averages.

In this time frame, quite a few Democrats dropped out as well.

I would typically just go ahead and remove them from the charts and graphs I present here and leave us showing only Biden and Sanders. But some notable things happened in this last batch of polls for some of the others. So I will include them one last time.

In the next update, they will be gone.

But for now, here we go. This time lets start with the old fashioned chart of just how we would end up if every candidate won every state where they lead the Election Graphs averages:

Dem 29 Feb 9 Mar 𝚫
Biden +178 +124 -54
Sanders +66 +124 +58
Bloomberg +58 +88 +30
Buttigieg -40 TIE +40
Warren -8 -8 Flat

First of all, Biden moved from just barely winning Georgia (16 EV) and Arizona (11 EV) to losing them, while Sanders went from just barely losing Florida (29 EV) to winning it.

With these changes, Biden and Sanders end up winning the same states and end up with the same 124 electoral vote margin over Trump.

Either way, the Democrat gets 331 electoral votes, and Trump gets 207.

Now, their margins in the close states are different, which will impact all of the other metrics we track here at Election Graphs, including the odds of winning. Every other metric still shows Biden in a stronger position than Sanders.

Nevertheless, it is striking that in terms of who leads states, you have the two leading Democrats with identical maps. At least for the moment.

Now, I could have left out the other candidates and still noted the above.

But there was also a comeback for Buttigieg in the weeks before he dropped out of the race.

On February 21st, the "Expected Case" showed Buttigieg losing by 84 electoral votes.

On February 22nd, the average for Nevada (6 EV) flipped, and he was only down by 72 electoral votes.

On February 23rd, the average for Michigan (16 EV) flipped and he was only down by 40 electoral votes.

On March 7th, the average for Pennsylvania (20 EV) flipped and he was now TIED with Trump in the Electoral College.

That's right, an exact 269 to 269 tie in the Electoral College.

If that were to happen, the election would go to the House, voting by state delegations, and Trump would almost certainly win.

But still, that was a big movement in this metric in a short time, resulting in the all so exciting and rarely seen tie scenario.

This showed him performing better than Warren against Trump as well.

But Buttigieg and Warren are both out now, so that doesn't matter anymore. Bloomberg's improvement doesn't either.

Now the tipping point metric:

Dem 29 Feb 9 Mar 𝚫
Biden +2.6% +2.8% +0.2%
Bloomberg +0.7% +2.4% +1.7%
Sanders +0.8% +1.5% +0.7%
Warren -0.5% -0.5% Flat
Buttigieg -2.1% -1.4% +0.7%

The tipping point is how much polls have to move uniformly to flip the outcome. In other words, you can look at it as a measure of how easy it would be to change the outcome.

By this measure, every Democrat except Warren improved.

Despite being at a tie, to actually WIN Buttigieg would still need polls to move another 1.4%.

But as I have pointed out before, the main thing to note with the tipping point is that all of these numbers are small. The largest is Biden at 2.8%, and that is TINY. Polls can move 3% or even 5% in a week or two easily. They can also have systematic errors that cause them off by that much.

The shift from Buttigieg losing by substantial margins to rally back to a tie in a matter of weeks is a perfect example of this, and another reason to note these other candidates one last time.

The structure of the Electoral College means small changes in the polls can result in a massive change to the Electoral College margin.

The small tipping point is the warning flag that whatever the Electoral College margins look like, either in the simplistic categorization model or in the probabilistic model we'll look at shortly, that it is still a close race, and things could change very very quickly.

Now the median margins in the probabilistic simulation:

Dem 29 Feb 9 Mar 𝚫
Biden +100 +116 +16
Sanders +50 +66 +16
Bloomberg +8 +50 +42
Buttigieg -40 TIE +40
Warren -10 -18 -8

In this view, all of the Democrats except Warren improve. In addition to the Buttigieg surge, there was a Bloomberg surge here too. But both Biden and Sanders improve nicely as well.

Notably, since the median case and the earlier expected case usually don't match, Buttigieg still ends up in a tie in this view too.

I guess that is a fine way for him to close things out.

Finally, let's look at the odds:

Dem 29 Feb 9 Mar 𝚫
Biden 97.7% 98.3% +0.6%
Sanders 82.0% 87.9% +5.9%
Bloomberg 54.1% 83.6% +29.5%
Buttigieg 15.9% 46.2% +30.3%
Warren 40.9% 34.4% -6.6%

Again, both Buttigieg and Bloomberg made huge gains.

Sanders and Biden gained too, but the higher up you are, the harder it is to make further gains.

And Warren slipped a bit further, ending out her run at only about a one-in-three shot at beating Trump.

That would have required winning the nomination though.

But Bloomberg, Buttigieg, and Warren have all dropped out of the presidential race.

So now there are two.

239.7 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 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.

Coming Up Biden

The delegate counts will continue to shift for days, perhaps weeks, as counts are finalized, especially in California, which is notorious for how slow it is at counting the vote, but as of the morning after Super Tuesday, we have a good idea of how Super Tuesday went.

There were 1357 delegates on my list for Super Tuesday. We have results for all of that except the 13 for Democrats Abroad, for which I guess we will have to wait a little while longer. Of the 1344 other delegates, the distribution as of right now is:

  • Biden 613
  • Sanders 521
  • Bloomberg 140
  • Warren 68
  • Gabbard 2

If there are minor changes to these totals as vote counting continues, I'll add updates to the bottom of this post on a daily basis. If there are changes that are big enough to change the overall picture, I'll make a new post.

In the meantime, forget what states the various delegates come from. That doesn't really matter. Only the delegate totals matter.

Obviously the big news is Biden.

Even though Biden was surging out of South Carolina, the expectation was still that Sanders would get the most delegates out of Super Tuesday, and quite probably amass a significant lead over Biden in the total delegate count.

Nope. It didn't happen.

Instead, Biden had a huge night.

Looking back at my post-South Carolina post, I had done some math and pointed at a milestone to watch for in terms of the Sanders delegate haul. That number was 686 Super Tuesday delegates. Correcting for not having Democrats Abroad, that shifts to 679 delegates.

I had laid out possibilities for where things looked to be headed if the Sanders total was way above, near, or way below that number.

Sanders fell significantly below that number.

Which pointed toward this possibility being in play:

"All lines heading upward: By gosh, a contested convention may be a real possibility!"

So are all lines heading upward?

So that would be a yes. While Sanders came nowhere near the 676 delegates he needed to be on track for 1991 delegates, Biden would have needed 681, and although Biden came closer, he didn't hit that milestone either.

No candidate has been on pace yet to get to 1991.

But does that mean we will have no candidate with a majority by the end of the primary season?

No. Not at all.

Time to look back at my post-Nevada update where I looked at the 2008 to 2016 races as a comparison.

We're only at the 37.67% mark in this race.

Looking at when the winner's lines started making the big turn down toward a clear victory in previous years:

  • 0% for the Democrats in 2016
  • 5% for the Republicans in 2008
  • 43% for the Republicans in 2012
  • 50% for the Democrats in 2008
  • 67% for the Republicans in 2016

Sure, we are past the turning point for the Dems in 2016 and Republicans in 2008, but those were the two races where things were clear the soonest.

But when the turn happened is not the only thing to look at here. The other is what the maximum "% of remaining needed to win" each winning candidate hit.

Right now Biden needs 53.39% of the remaining delegates to win. How does this compare to the worst situation each winning candidate was in before actually managing to win?

  • 50.02% – Clinton's worst spot in 2016
  • 50.29% – Romney's worst spot in 2012
  • 51.84% – McCain's worst spot in 2008
  • 53.02% – Obama's worst spot in 2008
  • 57.41% – Trump's worst spot in 2016

At the closest equivalent time in the cycle to where we are now (when the 2016 Republicans had allocated 36.45% of their delegates), Trump needed 53.85% of the remaining delegates to win.

That was worse off than Biden is today. But he ended up with a majority of the delegates. We did not have a battle at the 2016 Republican convention.

What happened? Let's look at the chart for the 2016 Republicans again:

At this point in 2016, Trump was at 53.85%. His closest competition was Cruz, who was at 59.39%.

Cruz stayed in the race for quite a bit past this point. He kept competing. He kept collecting delegates.

Those Cruz delegates, as well as the delegates from some of the others, managed to keep Trump from consistently hitting the delegate pace he needed. But sometimes he did, so he basically managed to keep his line flat. The Trump line never was rushing rapidly up toward 100%.

But meanwhile, Cruz (and the others) only hit the needed pace on a couple of isolated occasions. For the most part, every time there were delegates allocated, they fell further and further behind Trump.

Eventually, once it became clear that there was no way to win, one by one all the other Republicans dropped out. The last hold outs were Cruz and Kasich.

But it just wasn't feasible for them to continue on with no chance of a majority, only an increasingly desperate "stop Trump" narrative in the face of Trump winning victory after victory.

Now, a quick look at 2020 on the same scale:

The one thing that is immediately obvious is that Sanders is closer to Biden than Cruz was to Trump.

In 2016 Trump was at 53.85% while Cruz was at 59.39% for a 5.54% gap.

Right now Biden is at 53.39% while Sanders is at 56.85% for a 3.46% gap.

This means that the path for Sanders to actually hit marks to catch up isn't quite as bad as it was for Cruz in 2016.

But 56.85% is still a pretty high mark to need to hit.

To get to a contested convention scenario, you need BOTH Biden and Sanders to miss their delegate targets more often than they hit them.

And it would certainly help if someone else continues to accumulate at least a few delegates as well, even though they clearly can't win.

But as of the writing of this post, Buttigieg and Klobuchar were already out, news has just broken that Bloomberg is dropping out, and Warren is considering her options. Absent a massive surge for Warren or Gabbard, it looks like we now have a true two-person race. Which makes it harder to get to a contested convention.

Although it is still possible that we get there, now that we only have two serious candidates, the scenario where the leader (currently Biden) just builds on their momentum and starts getting what they need for a majority seems more and more likely.

The next primary date is March 10th when Michigan (125 delegates), Washington (89 delegates), Missouri (68 delegates), Mississippi (36 delegates), Idaho (20 delegates), and North Dakota (14 delegates) have their say. That adds up to 352 delegates.

To be on track for 1991:

  • Biden needs at least 188 of the 352 delegates
  • Sanders needs at least 201 of the 352 delegates

These are difficult numbers, but not impossible numbers. Especially now that we only have two serious candidates left.

If one of them hits their number, we may well be on the path for an actual direct winner.

If both of them fail to hit those marks, then the chances of a contested convention stay alive a little while longer.

Basically, assuming no additional delegate accumulation by anybody else, the gap between the top two has to remain less than the total number of delegates held by the also-rans. If they both keep winning states, and those victories are pretty narrow, then that is still possible.

But honestly, it seems like as usual, the chances of a contested convention are slipping away… and it looks like things are coming up Biden.

131.1 days until the Democratic National Convention.

173.1 days until the Republican National Convention.

Update 2020-03-05 01:01 UTC: The votes continue to be counted, and so the delegate estimates change. I'll be updating here no more than once a day. Since the post above was written, Bloomberg has lost 27 delegates. 16 of those went to Sanders, 9 to Biden, 1 to Warren, and one to Buttigieg. This makes the totals for Super Tuesday: Biden 622, Sanders 537, Bloomberg 113, Warren 69, Gabbard 2, Buttigieg 1. And the overall totals: Biden 676, Sanders 597, Bloomberg 113, Warren 77, Buttigieg 27, Klobuchar 7, Gabbard 2. This makes Biden's new magic number 53.02% (187 delegates on March 10th), and Sanders's number 56.21% (198 delegates on March 10th).

Update 2020-03-06 01:18 UTC: Bloomberg continues to bleed delegates as vote counting continues. Since yesterday's update, Bloomberg lost 35 more delegates. 19 went to Sanders, 11 went to Biden, and 5 went to Warren. New Super Tuesday totals: Biden 633, Sanders 556, Bloomberg 78, Warren 74, Gabbard 2, Buttigieg 1. And the overall totals: Biden 687, Sanders 616, Warren 82, Bloomberg 78, Buttigieg 27, Klobuchar 7, Gabbard 2. So Biden's new magic number is 52.58% (186 delegates on March 10th). Sanders's number is now 55.44% (196 delegates on March 10th).

Update 2020-03-07 01:24 UTC: In today's update Warren loses 10 delegates and Sanders loses 3. They go 12 to Biden, 1 to Bloomberg. New Super Tuesday totals: Biden 645, Sanders 553, Bloomberg 79, Warren 64, Gabbard 2, Buttigieg 1. New overall totals: Biden 699, Sanders 613, Bloomberg 79, Warren 72, Buttigieg 27, Klobuchar 7, Gabbard 2. Biden's new magic number is 52.10% (184 delegates on March 10th). Sanders's new magic number is 55.56% (196 delegates on March 10th).

Update 2020-03-08 01:57 UTC: Today Warren gains back 12 delegates, taking 6 from Biden, 5 from Sanders, and 1 from Buttigieg. New Super Tuesday totals: Biden 639, Sanders 553, Warren 76, Bloomberg 74, Gabbard 2. New overall totals: Biden 683, Sanders 613, Warren 84, Bloomberg 74, Buttigieg 26, Klobuchar 7, Gabbard 2. So Biden's new magic number is 52.34% (185 delegates on March 10th). Sanders's magic number remains 55.56% (196 delegates on March 10th).

Update 2020-03-09 01:48 UTC: Today Bloomberg loses 3 delegates. 2 go to Sanders, 1 goes to Warren. New Super Tuesday totals: Biden 639, Sanders 555, Warren 77, Bloomberg 71, Gabbard 2. New overall totals: Biden 693, Sanders 615, Warren 85, Bloomberg 71, Buttigieg 26, Klobuchar 7, Gabbard 2. So Biden's magic number is still 52.34% (185 delegates on March 10th). Sanders's magic number is now 55.48% (196 delegates on March 10th).

Update 2020-03-10 01:35 UTC: Today Bloomberg gives 1 delegate to Sanders. That's it. New Super Tuesday totals: Biden 639, Sanders 556, Warren 77, Bloomberg 70, Gabbard 2. New overall totals: Biden 693, Sanders 616, Warren 85, Bloomberg 70, Buttigieg 26, Klobuchar 7, Gabbard 2. Biden's magic number is still 52.34% (185 delegates on March 10th). Sanders's number is now 55.44% (196 delegates on March 10th).

For more information:

This post is an update based on the data on the Election Graphs 2020 Delegate Race page. Election Graphs tracks estimates of the convention delegate totals for both parties. The charts, graphs, and maps in the post above are all as of the time of this post. Click through on any image for the current interactive versions of that chart, along with additional details.

Follow @ElectionGraphs on Twitter or Election Graphs on Facebook to see announcements of new blog posts. For those interested in more granular updates of delegate updates or general election polling, follow @ElecCollPolls on Twitter. If you find the information in these posts informative or useful, please consider visiting the donation page.

Biden's South Carolina Boom

Welp, results came in pretty quickly for South Carolina. It was clear from the moment that polls closed that Biden had won, and pretty substantially so. The exact delegate totals took longer but settled in a few hours.

Note 2020-03-01 19:38 UTC: Or maybe it wasn't fully settled after all. See the updates at the end of this post.

South Carolina broke down like this:

  • Biden 39 (72.2%)
  • Sanders 15 (27.8%)

Given where we were before South Carolina, Biden only needed 50.95% of today's delegates, that would be 28 delegates, to improve his "% of remaining delegates needed to win" number. He did that easily, and the chart reflects that:

Biden's line curves down, meaning that at least in this contest, he collected delegates at the pace he needed to be on track to get the 1,991 delegates required to win the nomination.

Everybody else's position got a bit worse.

But to be clear, Sanders is still in the best position coming out of South Carolina. He now needs 50.50% of the remaining delegates to win, where Biden needs 50.65%.

Those numbers are still very close to each other. And even candidates with no delegates at all yet, like Bloomberg, only need 52.07%.

From a purely mathematical point of view, the race is still completely wide open. But we do not have a clean slate. We know how candidates are doing in the polls, so have some idea what is coming.

In just three days, we have Super Tuesday, when the results will allocate 1,357 delegates. Right now, Sanders leads in polling averages in many of those states, including some of the biggest ones. Biden leads in a few states as well. Klobuchar even leads in her home state. And Bloomberg is right up there in quite a few as well.

If there is a big enough "Biden bump" coming out of South Carolina, that picture may change. There may not be enough time for polling to measure such a thing if it does indeed happen. So we think we know where things stand from a polling point of view, but there is room for surprise.

Absent that sort of surprise though, nobody seems to expect a big enough Biden bump that Biden could win a majority of delegates on Super Tuesday. So the main question seems to be if all the non-Sanders candidates do well enough to put us on a path where a contested convention is a live possibility? Or will we be on a road where one of them is close enough that catching up is still a live possibility? Or is Sanders going to run away with this thing?

Well, let's quantify that.

As we said earlier, Sanders needs 50.50% of the delegates to be on a path to an outright win. With 1,357 delegates at stake, that means he needs to win at least 686 delegates for the day. As you start seeing delegate estimates come in, that is the magic number to watch.

You will also want to observe how the other candidates are doing. For a contested convention scenario to be realistic, at least three candidates must be collecting substantial numbers of delegates, and be able to continue to compete even once it is clear they won't reach a majority. Otherwise, it may take a while, but you will eventually end up with an outright winner.

I won't repeat all of the comparisons with previous cycles from the last post. Still, the key thing we'll want to try to distinguish after Super Tuesday using our "% of remaining delegates needed to win" graph is which of several paths we are on:

  1. All lines heading upward: By gosh, a contested convention may be a real possibility!
  2. Two mostly flat lines: We're looking at a real two-person race, but one of the candidates is likely to win eventually.
  3. One flat line: This person will likely end up winning, but enough others are still collecting delegates to make it difficult for them.
  4. One line diving downward: The person heading down is on a path to an outright victory.

Now, it may be possible that even after Super Tuesday, it isn't 100% clear which of these is happening. But we should have an idea.

If Sanders is right near 686 for the day (or 746 delegates total), we might be on paths 2 or 3.

If Sanders blows away 686 and is just raking in the delegates, it will be looking like path 4.

If Sanders is way below 686 (and nobody else unexpectedly gets more delegates than he does), then we are on path 1, the outcome that all election geeks root for every four years, but never happens.

There are 14 states, American Samoa, and the Democrats Abroad voting on Super Tuesday. But 30.4% of the delegates will be coming from California. And another 16.8% from Texas. Add in another 8.1% from North Carolina, and you've already accounted for 55.3% of the Super Tuesday results.

So those states will matter a LOT. And how the second-tier candidates navigate around the 15% thresholds in all of the contests will also be critical.

Right now, in California, Sanders and Warren are the only candidates over 15% in the RCP Average, and Warren is just barely over. If that holds, Sanders might end up taking a massive supermajority of the California delegates. That alone might be enough to ensure that he hits 686 if he even does respectfully in the other states.

In Texas, RCP shows Sanders, Biden, and Bloomberg all over the 15% threshold. Sanders is in the lead, but with the current distribution, all three might get decent numbers of delegates.

In North Carolina, RCP has the same three candidates over 15%, with Biden in the lead, but the other two close behind. This contest is also a state where a relatively even three-way split is possible.

I won't go further down the list. The bottom line is that current polling gives a significant chance that Sanders will rack up a big delegate lead on Super Tuesday.

Unless the Biden bump from South Carolina ends up being huge and upends everything, the question is just how big an advantage Sanders gets, and what that means to the rest of the primary season.

So we'll be watching all those "% of remaining needed to win" lines, and we will see what things look like in a few days.

It will be an exciting evening.

You may even want to tune in to the hourly delegate estimate updates we'll be tweeting over on @ElecCollPolls rather than waiting for the blog post(s) here that we'll post once it looks like the results have stabilized.

2.7 days until the polls close on Super Tuesday.

134.4 days until the Democratic National Convention.

176.4 days until the Republican National Convention.

Update 2020-03-01 16:34 UTC: This post was written when 99%+ of precincts were reporting, and three hours had gone by with no changes to the delegate estimates, but those last few votes did indeed make a difference. Biden took back one delegate from Sanders, making the South Carolina total Biden 40, Sanders 14. This shifts the national numbers to Sanders 59, Biden 55, Buttigieg 26, Warren 8, Klobuchar 7. This changes Sanders' "% of remaining needed to win" to 50.52%. That's still 686 delegates for his target level on Super Tuesday though.

Update 2020-03-01 19:34 UTC: And… it looks like there are still some vote total adjustments happening. Sanders took back two delegates from Biden. This makes the South Carolina total Biden 38, Sanders 16. Which makes the national numbers Sanders 61, Biden 53, Buttigieg 26, Warren 8, Klobuchar 7. So the "% of remaining needed to win" is 50.47%, and the number of delegates Sanders needs on Super Tuesday is down to 685.

Update 2020-03-01 20:33 UTC: Clearly I have to wait longer before making my summary post. I keep thinking we are done. But no. One delegate moves from Sanders back to Biden. So the new South Carolina totals are Biden 39, Sanders 15. Which puts everything back to where it was when I originally wrote this post.

For more information:

This post is an update based on the data on the Election Graphs 2020 Delegate Race page. Election Graphs tracks estimates of the convention delegate totals for both parties. The charts, graphs, and maps in the post above are all as of the time of this post. Click through on any image for the current interactive versions of that chart, along with additional details.

Follow @ElectionGraphs on Twitter or Election Graphs on Facebook to see announcements of new blog posts. For those interested in more granular updates of delegate updates or general election polling, follow @ElecCollPolls on Twitter. If you find the information in these posts informative or useful, please consider visiting the donation page.

 

Some Dems Up, Some Dems Down

It has only been eight days since the last update. Still, there have been new polls in Nevada, Michigan, Pennsylvania (x2), Wisconsin (x2), Virginia, New York, Missouri (x2), Maryland, Montana, New Hampshire, Arkansas, California (x2), Texas (x2), and South Carolina.

So we might as well get in another update before South Carolina primary results start coming in, and Super Tuesday results three days later.

There are lots of reasons not to pay attention to current head-to-head polls against Trump when making decisions about primary choices. Most pointedly, things change and change quickly, so where things are at the end of February do not necessarily correspond to where they will be at the beginning of November. And of course, things like policy and character should also play a role.

But for those for whom "How might the general election go?" is an important decision making factor, here is the latest from Election Graphs, based on state poll averages.

Let's start with the "odds of winning the electoral college" based on the state level head-to-head poll averages, and a Monte Carlo model using the historical accuracy of the final Election Graphs poll averages to determine how far off the polls tend to be. Keep in mind this is "if the election was today." Which it is not.

Dem 21 Feb 29 Feb 𝚫
Biden 98.4% 97.7% -0.7%
Sanders 77.9% 82.0% +4.1%
Bloomberg 59.9% 54.1% -5.8%
Warren 38.3% 40.9% +2.6%
Buttigieg 9.3% 15.9% +6.6%

The last week of polling has improved Sanders, Warren, and Buttigieg's prospects against Trump.

Meanwhile, Biden and Bloomberg have both slipped.

The order has not changed, though.

  • Biden still is the strongest against Trump by far.
  • Sanders is more of a gamble but still significantly favored.
  • Bloomberg is a little better than a coin toss, but not much.
  • Warren is a bit worse than a coin toss but still has a decent chance.
  • Buttigieg would be a long shot. About the same as Trump in 2016.

Now would be a good time to talk a little about a Twitter thread by Johnathan Mummolo, a political scientist at Princeton. The thread summarizes a paper by Westwood, Messing, and Lelkes titled "Projecting Confidence: How the probabilistic horserace confused and demobilizes the public."

The bottom line is that the vast majority of people do not understand probabilities.

I have repeatedly ranted both here and on my Curmudgeon's Corner podcast ever since the 2016 election about people looking at a 14% chance of Trump winning (the median odds from all the sites I could find that gave odds) and acting as if it was 0%. That 14% is approximately the same as rolling a one on a six-sided die. And while people might be disappointed in that result if they wanted a six, nobody would be surprised by getting a one. Ones happen all the time.

This paper gets at a different but related problem. When looking at a probability of a candidate winning, vs. an equivalent percentage margin in the polls, people looking at the margins will interpret the situation as being a closer race and be more likely to vote than the people looking at probabilities even though the underlying truth is precisely the same.

Here at Election Graphs, we used the historical performance of the final, right before election day, Election Graph poll averages for every state vs. actual election results in 2008, 2012, and 2016 to estimate given a particular margin, how often would each party win? The detailed methodology is in this post from January 2019.

This analysis gives us numbers like if a Democrat is leading a state by 3.0% entering election day, they have a 73.8% chance of winning the state.

But it seems if people see 73.8%, they think it is a sure thing, so why should they bother voting? Whereas if they see a 3.0% lead, they believe it is a close race, and maybe they should vote.

Of course, 73.8% is not a sure thing at all! There is more than a one in four chance things will go the other way!

But human psychology and probabilistic innumeracy win the day!

The thread and paper also mention that at the moment, Democrats are more likely to frequent sites (like this one!) that give probabilistic forecasts. So presenting this sort of information ends up serving as a form of voter suppression for Democrats (if the Democrat is in the lead anyway).

I'll also note that when looking at a national election based on the Electoral College instead, people are going to be confused too. A significant Electoral College margin can rely on a small number of states being just barely on one side of the line or the other. A lead there can disappear in a flash with a slight movement in those states.

But of course, looking at the popular vote isn't a solution either, since as both 2000 and 2016 illustrated nicely, we don't pick presidents by the popular vote.

Here at Election Graphs, we are going to continue to present the probabilistic views anyway, of course. But if you are paying attention to them, you do need to understand what they mean, as well as pay attention to the various caveats about how quickly things change that I repeat endlessly. It is important.

But to get a full view of what is going on, we also present the national picture in three other ways regularly in the blog, and there are even more available on the blog. We let you dig into what is happening in all of the states and see all the individual polls too if you want to get granular.

This stuff is complicated. Dig in. Understand the details.

Anyway, we now turn to the median of the Electoral College margin simulations. Roughly speaking half the time, the Democrat will do better than this, and half the time, they will do worse than this. Maybe that is a little less confusing than the probability of winning?

Dem 21 Feb 29 Feb 𝚫
Biden +104 +100 -4
Sanders +42 +50 +8
Bloomberg +14 +8 -6
Warren -14 -10 +4
Buttigieg -54 -40 +14

The changes here parallel the odds, of course. But does presenting it at a margin make you FEEL differently about the results? Maybe.

Also, of course, the median margin in the model does not alone tell you how about the distributions, and how easily it would be for things to change. That is what the probability helps to understand. Two candidates might show the same median margin, but be in very different situations depending on the margins in the individual states.

Simplifying this even further to look at the margins if each candidate wins exactly the states they lead, you get this:

Dem 21 Feb 29 Feb 𝚫
Biden +198 +178 -20
Sanders +66 +66 Flat
Bloomberg +52 +58 +6
Warren -20 -8 +12
Buttigieg -84 -40 +44

Interestingly, in this view, Bloomberg improves, even though his odds of winning and his median margin got worse. This divergence is because Bloomberg improved his margin by 6 EV by taking the lead in Virginia (13 EV) and losing the edge in Wisconsin (10 EV). But meanwhile, he weakened in other states enough to lower his overall chance of winning, even though the straight-up list of places he is ahead improved.

Finally, the tipping point, representing how much of a national shift in polls would change the outcome:

Dem 21 Feb 29 Feb 𝚫
Biden +2.8% +2.6% -0.2%
Sanders +0.5% +0.8% +0.3%
Bloomberg +0.7% +0.7% Flat
Warren -0.5% -0.5% Flat
Buttigieg -2.9% -2.1% +0.8%

If I could only keep two of these charts, it would be the probability of winning and the tipping point. The likelihood of winning tells you what might happen if the election was today. But the tipping point tells you how easy it is for those probabilities to change.

There is not a single one of these five candidate combinations that are further than 3% from the centerline. That means that if there is a systematic bias of 3% in the polls toward the other side, the outcome will change. Similarly, any news event that can move the margins by 3% can change the results.

To kill a 3% margin, only 1.5% of the public needs to change their minds. People deciding to stay home and not vote can also eliminate a 3% margin in an instant.

So yes, the odds here show that if a Biden vs. Trump election were today, Biden would have a 97.7% chance of winning. But a tipping point of only 2.6% tells you that Biden's entire advantage could disappear virtually overnight with the right bit of negative news hitting the headlines, or with a pretty slight polling error in the critical states.

Which brings us back to the importance of correctly interpreting the numbers we share here on Election Graphs.

There is a big difference between "would probably win if the election was today" and "will probably win in November."

And even if the election was tomorrow, 97.7% is not the same as 100%. And 82.0% is certainly not the same as 100%.

No matter which candidate pair you look at, this is still a close and highly contested election.

The results of the South Carolina primary start coming in just a few hours.

248.2 days until polls start to close on the general election.

We have a long way to go.

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.