Mixed Messages

Time for another blog update. As always, if you are impatient for one of these updates, the 2020 pages on Election Graphs are updated nearly every day as new polls come in.

The last update here was 10 days ago on August 25th. If you didn't notice it at the time, please check that last post for a CORRECTION I added on the 26th. The fixes mentioned on that correction are the baseline used here, rather than the originally posted numbers.

Here are the high-level changes since that last post:

Model Metric 25 Aug 5 Sep 𝚫
Categories Trump Best
Expected
Biden Best
Biden +6
Biden +146
Biden +288
TIED
Biden +220
Biden +288
Trump +6
Biden +74
FLAT
Tipping Point Biden +6.0% Biden +3.3% Trump +2.7%
Probabilities Trump 2σ
Median
Biden 2σ
Biden +50
Biden +148
Biden +258
Biden +38
Biden +152
Biden +254
Trump +12
Biden +4
Trump +4
Trump Win
Tie
Biden Win
0.1%
0.0%
99.9%
0.2%
0.1%
99.7%
+0.1%
+0.1%
-0.2%

This week's TL;DR: Biden is still significantly ahead, and if he wins every state where he leads the polls, he wins by a larger margin than before. However, he is has weakened in a lot of the close states, meaning Trump has more possible paths to a comeback than he did before, and Biden's lead is more precarious than it was.

A bunch of states moved in and out of "Weak Biden" and "Weak Trump" in these 10 days, so let's look at those first:

First up, Texas. The big one. The average in Texas has once again moved from just barely Trump, to just barely Biden. Biden now holds a thin 0.8% lead in our average. In terms of probabilities, we have it 54.2% Biden, 45.8% Trump. If the election was today.

Then Pennsylvania. Biden had been looking pretty strong there, with a lead as high as 7.0% as recently as August 25th. But Trump has gained since then, and Biden's lead here has slipped to only 3.3%, which translates into a 79.4% chance of winning. But Trump winning Pennsylvania is back on the table as a reasonable possibility.


Georgia is perpetually close, and once again crosses the centerline, this time moving from Biden to Trump. Election Graphs now has Trump leading by 1.5%, which is a 71.6% chance of a Trump victory.


Meanwhile, North Carolina goes the other way. After only a very short time on the Trump side, North Carolina is back to "Weak Biden", which is where it has been for most of the last few months. We have Biden up by 1.4%, which is a 63.3% chance of a Biden win.


Biden's lead in Arizona increases, moving it to the "Strong Biden" category. Biden now leads there by 5.7% in our average, which is a 93.5% chance of winning.


There have not been many Nevada polls. We have to go back almost 10 months to get the five polls for our average. But with the latest poll, Biden's lead jumps to 5.4% or a 92.5% chance of winning the state.

Texas, Georgia, and North Carolina crossed the center line. Texas (38 EV) and North Carolina (15 EV) moved toward Biden, while Georgia (16 EV) moved toward Trump. That is a net movement of 37 EV toward Trump, or a 74 EV increase in Biden's expected margin.

Pennsylvania, Arizona, and Nevada on the other hand, impacted what we call Trump's "Best Case". That would be where he wins every single state that he leads our averages, plus every state where he is behind by less than 5%. Pennsylvania (20 EV) moved toward Trump, while Arizona (11 EV) and Nevada (6 EV) moved toward Biden, for a net improvement for Trump of 3 EV, or 6 EV of net margin.

In our categorization view, this ends up putting Trump's best case at an actual 269-269 tie, which would throw the election into the House of Representatives. To get to that Trump would need to win all that states he is ahead in, all five states where Biden is ahead by less than 5%, and also both Maine's 2nd congressional district and Nebraska's 2nd congressional district. But if that happened… tie.

As always though, we want to look beyond the simple categorization of states based on the averages. So a few more states to look at.

In addition to the states above that changed categories and stayed there, there were three additional states that moved in or out of "Weak Biden" and "Weak Trump", but then moved back again, leaving no net category change in the last 10 days, even though the actual average moved around a bit. In some cases, you can't even see the category change in the charts anymore, because the timing of the polls actually erased the change. But here they are anyway:

And finally, the locations with margins under 5% that didn't change categories at all this time around:

Putting all of this together into our probabilistic model, you get this trend:

Looking at the center median line, we can see a move toward Biden as the Democratic Convention happened, with that leveling off, then a move back toward Trump again starting as the Republican convention was going on. As of right now, Biden is a little bit better off in this view than he was right before the conventions started.

Basically though, we been in the same sort of range since the bigger movement toward Biden in June. The median has not left the Biden by 134 to Biden by 180 zone since the end of June.

We HAVE, on the other hand, seen the upper end of these probabilistic bands increase. These are the lines showing the best scenarios for Trump. They bounce around a lot but have generally been creeping upward since the end of June.

This basically indicates a pattern where Biden's electoral college lead has been pretty steady but has been getting more precarious, as leads in a variety of states diminish.

The simulations now have Biden at a 99.7% to win to Trump's 0.2%. The remaining 0.1% is that 269-269 tie possibility.

This is if the election was today of course, and the election is not today. I mentioned that the increases in the upper end of Trump's range indicate that perhaps Biden's lead is a little less solid than the margins would imply. This brings us to the tipping point:

Biden's tipping point has cratered since the conventions began, going from 6.5% on August 18th to only 3.3% now.

If Biden wins every state he leads, he wins by a very impressive 379 electoral votes to Trump's 159. That is a 220 EV margin. That would be a larger electoral college margin victory than any election since Clinton's defeat of Dole in 1996 with exactly that margin.

But Biden's margin in Pennsylvania, the state that currently puts him over the edge, is only 3.3%. You only need that small movement in the "Weak Biden" states to flip the election. Or a polling error of that magnitude.

In June we saw the tipping point move 5% in two weeks. We have just under two months left until the election.

(OK, if you look closely, you'll notice a 3.3% move would only get us to that 269-269 tie, it would currently take a 5.3% move to actually also flip Minnesota and have an outright Trump win, but the point stands…)

The RCP average of national polls currently shows a 7.0% Biden lead. Comparing to the 3.3% tipping point, this implies that the structure of the electoral college is currently giving Trump a 3.7% head start, up significantly from 1.6% in the last update. Like 2016 and 2000, the situation where Trump loses the popular vote but wins the electoral college is a live possibility.

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


To win, Trump needs all the close states. But all of those states are VERY close. It isn't that big of a stretch from where things are right now.

Now comparing to this time in 2016:

<59 Days Out> 2016 2020
Expected Case Clinton by 5 Biden by 220
Tipping Point Clinton by 0.9% Biden by 3.3%

This point in 2016 was Clinton's late-summer low point, before surging back to a strong lead in October, which then of course completely slipped away in the last month.

The best Clinton saw in the Expected Case in the last 59 days was a 154 electoral vote margin in October. Biden is a lot stronger than that at the moment.

Clinton's best Tipping Point in the last 59 days was 6.0% in early October though. Biden was stronger than that in mid-August, but he isn't anymore.

People argue that the presidential race is much more stable this year than it was in 2016. There are fewer undecided people. And both candidates have less "soft" support that can easily slip away. This does seem to be true. So maybe the chances of a lot of movement are less than there were.

But the amount of movement you need to change the outcome right now isn't all that large.

The map below is where things stand today. Keep watching!

59.0 days until the first results start coming in for Election 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 for current interactive versions of the chart, along with additional details.

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

Trump Narrows The Gap

I am overdue for another update. The 2020 pages on Election Graphs are updated nearly every day as new polls come in. So you can always see the current status there for yourself in between these posts. But here comes another blog post…

Since the last update on July 24th, there have been new state polls in Pennsylvania (x8), Arizona (x7), Florida (x7), Michigan (x10), Ohio (x5), North Carolina (x9), South Carolina (x4), Minnesota (x5), Colorado (x3), Georgia (x5), Texas (x4), Virginia (x3), Wisconsin (x9), New Jersey, Massachusetts, Alaska, Iowa (x5), Maine All (x4), Montana (x2), Maine CD1 (x2), Maine CD2 (x2), Washington, New Hampshire (x3), California, Alabama, Kentucky (x4), Hawaii, Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, and Kansas.

That's 31 out of the 56 entities that allocate electoral votes in only 16 days. That's more than half. Given that, I'm going to stop calling out the states with polls each update. In short, the answer from now until the election is always going to be "a lot of them", and "multiple polls for all the close states".

It has been 16 days, how much has changed?

First the summary table of changes:

Model Metric 24 Jul 9 Aug 𝚫
Categories Trump Best
Expected
Biden Best
Biden +36
Biden +168
Biden +288
Trump +34
Biden +180
Biden +288
Trump +70
Biden +12
FLAT
Tipping Point Biden +6.5 Biden +4.2% Trump +2.3%
Probabilities Trump 2σ
Median
Biden 2σ
Biden +80
Biden +168
Biden +272
Biden +50
Biden +154
Biden +264
Trump +30
Trump +14
Trump +8
Trump Win
Tie
Biden Win
0.0%
0.0%
100.0%
0.1%
0.0%
99.9%
+0.1%
FLAT
-0.1%

So compared to 16 days ago, what is the TL;DR summary?

Biden still leads by a large margin and actually improves his margin in the "everybody wins every state where they lead the average" expected case metric, but overall Trump has managed to reduce Biden's margin in a number of states, thus increasing the likelihood he might steal those states back and strengthening his position. And if he managed to flip ALL the close states, he could once again pull off a narrow win.

Now some of the charts, starting with the categorization view:

We can see that while Biden improved his expected case, Trump's best case has improved significantly.

So which specific states changed?

First, it was Iowa that moved from barely Trump to barely Biden, improving Biden's margin in the case where each candidate wins every state where they lead the average. But Biden leads Iowa by only 0.2%. And it looks pretty likely that the lead is due to a single outlier poll that showed a 6% Biden lead. So far no other polls indicate a Biden lead of that magnitude. So it would not be surprising at all to see Iowa slip back to the Trump side with the next poll, or at least when that outlier slips out of the average.

But then there is Florida. Biden's substantial lead in Florida has slipped significantly. He still leads, but no longer by huge margins. In our average Biden now only leads Florida by 3.0%. If the election was today, we estimate that translates into a 73.8% chance that Biden would win the state. But we actually have 86 days until the election, and there is plenty of room for this to move further.

The substantial swings here over June and July indicate that as polarized as things tend to be these days, there is still a non-trivial group of voters who have shown they can change their minds over time. In this case, they moved away from Trump for a while, but seem to be coming home again, once again putting Florida within Trump's reach.

Much the same pattern has played out in Pennsylvania. Biden built a substantial lead in June, but over the course of July, it faded quite a bit. Biden still leads Trump by 4.2% in Pennsylvania, translating into an 84.9% chance of winning the state in our model if the election was today. But that is significantly less certain than the 98.8% we had at Biden's peak.

Given Florida's 29 electoral votes and Pennsylvania's 20 electoral votes, together these states can change the margin by a massive 98 electoral votes.

Having these two states close enough to be in play is critical to Trump. At the moment, he is still behind, but close enough that it is easy to imagine scenarios where Trump could come back from behind and win them.

Not all of the movement was bad for Biden.

In Wisconsin, at the time of the last update, Wisconsin had flipped from "Strong Biden" down to "Weak Biden". But that didn't last long, and Wisconsin is once again a strong enough Biden state that we don't include it in Trump's best case. (At an 8.6% lead, our odds estimate is a 99.1% chance of a Biden win if the election was today.)

New Hampshire also moves out of Trump's reach with Biden leading the average by 7.8%, which would be a 98.6% chance of a win if the election was today.

But Wisconsin and New Hampshire are only 14 electoral votes, compared to 49 electoral votes for Florida and Pennsylvania. So the net change is 35 electoral votes in reach for Trump that were not when we did the last blog post, meaning a 70 electoral vote increase in Trump's best case.

So, now to dash through the "weak" states that are in play that didn't switch broad categories this time around, in order by  the number of electoral votes:

When you mash all of these movements together into our probabilistic model that doesn't just say that since one candidate is ahead in a state they are going to win it, but instead simulates many possible election results recognizing that close states can go either way, you get these trends:

Roughly speaking, the darker the color, the more likely the final margin will be in that range.

Looking at the center median line, where half the simulated election results were better for Biden, and half were better for Trump, Biden's most recent peak was a 180 electoral vote margin on July 17th. Since then he has slipped down to a 154 electoral vote margin.

All of the other bands have moved toward Trump as well, each to a differing degree. The moves aren't as dramatic as the categorization view shows, but there has been a steady deterioration for Biden since that peak.

June and the first half of July were a constant stream of bad news for Trump, and his position in election polls reflected that. Since then things have slowly been moving back in his direction.

To be absolutely clear, Biden still has a huge advantage. But less so than he did a few weeks ago.

It is still too small to see directly on the chart, but Biden's chances of winning when we did our last update rounded to 100.0% (it was actually 99.9931% in our simulation), and now they round to 99.9% (it is actually 99.9265% in our current simulation).

So that is still substantial, even if it is less than it was.

But that is if the election was today.

How vulnerable is that lead?

Biden's tipping point lead peaked at 7.3%. It is down to 4.2%. That's a 3.1% decline in a little over a month. If that trend continued, in another month Biden would still have a lead, but it would be quite tenuous.

That is not a prediction. It seems more likely that if Biden's spike in June was just an aberration and things are returning to the mean, that the tipping point will settle out between a 2% and 4% Biden lead.

But that is the level of lead that might just be a systematic polling error. Or that could be erased by a major event in the last few days of the campaign, too late to be measured by the polls.

So how does this look compared to 2016?

<86 Days Out> 2016 2020
Expected Case Clinton by 164 Biden by 180
Tipping Point Clinton by 6.0% Biden by 4.2%

So Biden is ahead of Clinton at this same point in time in terms of expected margins if all the states fell where their polls indicated. But Clinton's lead was actually a bit more secure than Biden's is right now, and of course, it slipped away before the end.

If the election was today, Biden would almost certainly win. But his lead is somewhat precarious. If 2% or 3% of people change their minds from Biden to Trump in a few critical states, Trump takes the lead.

Now the spectrum of battleground states :

Here is what it looked like in our last update:

And here it is today:

Out of the close ("weak") states, Biden only has to hold Arizona and Pennsylvania. He can afford to lose all the rest and still win.

But we're once again in a position where with a sweep of all the close states, Trump could win.

Finally, the current map:

86.0 days until polls start to close on election night. Stay tuned!

For more information:

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

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

Biden Plateau?

It has been too long since my last update. Oops.

Given that, I'll start with a reminder that while I only do these blog posts occasionally, the 2020 pages on Election Graphs are updated nearly every day as new polls come in. So you can always see the current status there for yourself.

In any case, since the last update on July 1st, there have been new state polls in Arizona (x9), Florida (x7), Michigan (x7), North Carolina (x6), Pennsylvania (x7), Wisconsin (x4), Colorado, Montana (x4), Texas (x7), Maine, Alaska (x2), Alabama, Iowa (x2), Georgia (x4), Missouri, Nebraska CD2, Kentucky (x4), South Carolina, Ohio, and Minnesota.

Yeah. Like I said. Too long since the last update.

Last time around, Trump was collapsing. Over three weeks later, where are we now?

As usual, let's start with the summary table of changes, then get into the graphs:

Model Metric 1 Jul 24 Jul 𝚫
Categories Trump Best
Expected
Biden Best
Biden +56
Biden +162
Biden +288
Biden +36
Biden +168
Biden +288
Trump +20
Biden +6
FLAT
Tipping Point Biden +7.3 Biden +6.5% Trump +0.8%
Probabilities Trump 2σ
Median
Biden 2σ
Biden +82
Biden +158
Biden +262
Biden +80
Biden +168
Biden +272
Trump +2
Biden +10
Biden +10
Trump Win
Tie
Biden Win
0.0%
0.0%
100.0%
0.0%
0.0%
100.0%
FLAT
FLAT
FLAT

So compared to 23 days ago, we've got a mixed bag. Some metrics move toward Trump, some move toward Biden.

If I had to characterize the whole thing at once, I'd say Biden has improved his "right now" position a bit, but it is slightly more precarious than it was, and movement has slowed. Things seem to have plateaued the last couple of weeks.

At least in the probabilistic view. The categorization view is more volatile.

For instance, this update would have looked significantly different a week ago in the categorization view. Things looked much better for Biden a week ago, but they have swung back since then.

You can see that clearly on the chart:

That giant dip in the expected cases is caused by Georgia, Texas, and Ohio all flipping from just barely Trump, to just barely Biden, but then Georgia and Texas flipping back again.

In the categorization view, the difference between "just barely Biden" and "just barely Trump" is massive, as the state immediately changes sides. But in reality, either way, you have a tossup situation.

The probabilistic view accounts for that, and we'll look at that view shortly.

But first, let's look first at all the states that moved in or out of our "Weak Trump" and "Weak Biden" categories since the last post.

In order from biggest to smallest:

Texas is, of course, a huge electoral vote prize. The hope of a blue Texas completely changing the political map is once again tantalizing Democrats as it seems like it could be in reach. Our polling average briefly dipped into the blue before reverting to the red side of the centerline.

The bottom line here at the moment is just that Texas is very much a battleground state. As of this update, in the Election Graphs averages, Texas is the closest state of them all, with Trump leading by only 0.3%.

Florida, on the other hand, is not a close state at the moment, even though it famously often has been. For a very brief moment in the last few weeks, Biden's lead in Florida fell below 5%. But then subsequent polls drove Biden to his biggest lead in Florida yet, with an 8.4% margin over Trump.

Ohio continues to be more sparsely polled than you would think it would be, so the average isn't as responsive to events. But with the latest poll, the average flips from the Trump side to the Biden side.

Either way, Ohio is a close state and very much in play.

Georgia is another super close state. Since the last blog post, Georgia has flipped from Biden to Trump, back to Biden, then back to Trump yet again as new polls came in.

Just looking at the states we have flagged as "super close" so far…  Texas, Ohio, and Georgia… tells you quite a lot about the race. If these three states are the close states, the Republican is in deep trouble.

After a lot of polls in June showing Biden with 10%+ leads in Michigan, more recent polls caused Biden to drop below a 5% lead in the average… for a little bit… before new polls showed Biden's lead increasing again.

Biden's lead is nowhere near as strong as it was in mid-June, but it is still a very strong lead.

Wisconsin exhibits a similar pattern. A big move toward Biden, which has subsequently receded, still leaving Biden with a lead, but a much less substantial one than he had.

In Wisconsin's case, at the moment, Biden's lead is still under 5%, which means we consider it to be a state that Trump could steal under the right conditions, so this movement is responsible for the 20 electoral vote improvement to Trump's best case margin.

Along with Maine, Nebraska is one of the two states that award some of their electoral votes by congressional district. Polls for the two congressional districts in Maine and the three in Nebraska tend to be rare. But we now have two for Nebraska's 2nd congressional district.

The five poll average still includes the 2008-2016 election results as a baseline as well as the two actual 2020 polls. But both of the new polls show a substantial Biden lead, which is enough to pull the district into "Weak Biden" territory for the moment. If future polls back up the first two, this may end up as a Strong Biden electoral vote before we are done.

In addition to the states above that changed categories, we have some intra-category movement with these close states:

There is a decent amount of range between the best polls for Biden and the best polls for Trump in North Carolina. The poll average itself has bounced around quite a bit too.

But, in the last year, aside from a short time in May, polling has consistently had North Carolina in the "Weak Biden" category, even when other states have been swinging dramatically in one direction or the other.

Arizona had a bit longer foray over to the Trump side from late January to early March, but since then, Biden has maintained a small but steady lead.

And finally, Iowa, which has been "Weak Trump" since December, but where Biden has been gaining on Trump since late April.

With all of these changes together, the probabilistic model produces a view that recognizes that "just barely Trump" and "just barely Biden" are both tossups, rather than immediately classifying a state on one side or the other. We run about a million simulations based on the current polling, and an analysis of the 2008-2016 polling average accuracy here on Election Graphs, and get this…

The big move toward Biden and back caused by Texas and Georgia is not evident here like it is in the categorization model.

Instead, in the median case, we see the rapid movement toward Biden in the first half of June, a slower movement toward Biden through about the July 4th holiday, and then things being stable since then. This is our plateau.

In addition, for the lines showing the top of our 2σ (95.45% chance) and 3σ (99.73% chance) probability bands, you can see Trump improving at the end of June, but losing most of that gain over the following few weeks. This represents Trump's temporary improvement in Weak Biden states, which then slipped away again.

In terms of Biden's chances of winning if the election was held today (which it is not!), the odds are still pegged at a number which rounds to 100%. But if you look at the unrounded number, it is 99.9931%, which is not quite as good as the 99.9977% in the last blog post.

The risk for Biden would not be in the odds if the election were held today. At the moment, Biden has a very strong lead, large enough that we wouldn't expect a different outcome due to systematic polling error or anything like that. No, the risk is that there are still 102 days until election results start coming in, and there is time for the situation to change.

Which brings us to the tipping point, which measures just how much things have to change to flip the winner.

Last time we noted the movement from Biden by 2.7% to Biden by 7.3% in less than two weeks. Since then, Trump improved in this metric to only losing to Biden by 4.8% in the tipping-point state but then slipped again, now losing by 6.5%.

The thing that this chart helps us remember is how fast things can change with the right events in the news. If Biden can gain 4.6% in two weeks, then given the right combination of events, he could lose 4.6% in a similar period. If that were to happen, he would only be ahead by 1.9% in the tipping point state… just barely better than the 1.6% lead Clinton had in the tipping point on Election Eve 2016, so clearly within the realm that things could go the other way.

But that isn't where things are today. Today Biden has a huge lead. The question is if he keeps it over the next 102 days.

As we have in the last couple of posts, let's make a quick comparison of where Biden is today and where Clinton was at the same point in 2016.

<102 Days Out> 2016 2020
Expected Case Clinton by 144 Biden by 168
Tipping Point Clinton by 2.8% Biden by 6.5%

Biden continues to be significantly stronger than Clinton was.

Now a quick look at the spectrum of states that are either actively in play, or could be if there is a significant movement toward one candidate or the other:

Here is what it looked like in our last update:

And here is how it looks today:

Fundamentally, while at the moment Biden can win without ANY of the close states, at the same time there are a LOT of "Weak Biden" states that are stealable by Trump with a relatively small move in the polls, so it wouldn't take a lot to change this picture dramatically.

Finally, the current map:

102.0 days until polls start to close on election night. Stay tuned!

For more information:

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

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

Trump Collapsing?

Since the last update on June 18th, there have been new state polls in Utah, Kentucky, New Hampshire, North Carolina (x5), Minnesota, Alabama, Michigan (x3), Wisconsin (x5), Texas (x2), Ohio, Pennsylvania (x3), Florida (x2), Arizona, Georgia (x2), Missouri, and New York.

In our last update, we noted that while national polls were moving rapidly against Trump, the story with state polls was more complicated.

Not this time. With very few exceptions, these polls have been bad for Trump. State polls have caught up with the national polls, and this time around we see a dramatic move away from Trump and toward Biden across metrics.

As usual, let's start with the summary table of changes, then get into the graphs:

Model Metric 18 Jun 1 Jul 𝚫
Categories Trump Best
Expected
Biden Best
Trump +42
Biden +130
Biden +288
Biden +56
Biden +162
Biden +288
Biden +98
Biden +32
FLAT
Tipping Point Biden +4.8 Biden +7.3% Biden +2.5%
Probabilities Trump 2σ
Median
Biden 2σ
Biden +32
Biden +132
Biden +242
Biden +82
Biden +158
Biden +262
Biden +50
Biden +26
Biden +20
Trump Win
Tie
Biden Win
0.3%
0.1%
99.6%
0.0%
0.0%
100.0%
-0.3%
-0.1%
+0.4%

Not a single one of our national metrics moved toward Trump this time.

Let's start by looking at the states that moved in or out of the "Weak Biden" and "Weak Trump" categories that our categorization model thinks could go either way since the margin is less than 5%.

In order from biggest to smallest:

With a series of really strong polls, Trump seems to be collapsing in Florida at the moment. Now, it would be natural for there to be some reversion to the mean at some point, and maybe the poll showing Biden with a 10%+ lead is an outlier. But for the moment, Florida moves from "Weak Biden" to "Strong Biden", meaning the categorization view no longer sees Florida as being in reach for Trump if the election was today. (Spoiler, it isn't.)

Pennsylvania also moves from "Weak Biden" to "Strong Biden" as a wave of new polls showing him ahead wash the most recent poll showing Trump leading Pennsylvania out of the average.

Now, Florida and Pennsylvania moving out of Trump's reach (for now) is big news, but perhaps the even bigger news is Biden retaking the lead in Georgia. Now, this is just barely. He leads by 0.9% in our average at the moment, which means we give Biden about a 55% chance of winning the state.

Georgia is clearly a battleground state at the moment, which is significant in and of itself, no matter which candidate is slightly ahead. In a world where Trump was doing well, you would not expect him to have to be fighting for Georgia, let alone be losing it.

With these categorization changes, you get this chart for the range between the categorization view's best and worst cases for each candidate:

In terms of the central "expected case" line, we are at a 162 EV win for Biden, which is almost, but not quite back to the 166 EV win we had for him in early May.

But Trump's best case is not only a loss for the first time since last October, but it is also the worst it has ever been in the Biden vs. Trump matchups. At this moment, if Trump were to win EVERY close state, he would still lose to Biden by 56 electoral votes.

Of course, the categorization model is very coarse. Let's look now at the rest of the close states that had new polling since our last update and see how those change the probabilistic model.


Where are Wisconsin and Michigan? Aren't they key swing states? Well, maybe. But at the moment they are not CLOSE states. Biden leads Wisconsin by 7.1% and Michigan by 8.0%. That may not stay that way. In both states, Biden's lead is down a bit from its high. But at the moment, Biden has quite a strong lead in both.

When you mash all of the movements in all of the states with new polls together into our probabilistic model, you get this:

Trump peaked in the middle of April in our simulations, dropped quickly, then plateaued, increasing to a second peak right around the beginning of June before falling again. Then things started to flatten out again, but that most recent bit of the chart is still subject to change as new polls covering that time period come in.

In terms of the median case of our simulations, Biden is now winning by 158 EV, almost at his recent best of 160 EV. His all-time best was 184 EV back in October.

In terms of probability of winning our site now shows Biden at 100.0%. That is rounded though of course. Looking at the unrounded numbers, it is actually 99.9977% at the moment.

This is the time for the usual "if the election was held today" warning. If Biden's polls end up looking like this on election eve, he would almost certainly win. But we have almost 126 days to go. And things can change.

So let's look at the tipping point, which measures just how much things have to change in order to flip the winner.

The tipping point has moved dramatically toward Biden. Between June 9th and June 22nd, it moved from Biden by 2.7% to Biden by 7.3%. That's 4.6% in less than 2 weeks.

On the one hand, that is a dramatic collapse for Trump. But on the other, it shows just how quickly things can move. Something that can go down quickly can potentially go up quickly too.

So for the two metrics we had in 2016 as well as today, how does Biden stack up to Clinton at the same time period?

<126 Days Out> 2016 2020
Expected Case Clinton by 144 Biden by 162
Tipping Point Clinton by 3.2% Biden by 7.3%

So yes, Biden is doing better on both metrics than Clinton was at this same time in 2016.

From this point, Clinton would improve a bit. In August 2016 she got up to a 188 EV lead in the expected case and a 6.1% lead in the tipping point. This, of course, did not last all the way until the election. By the time we got to the election, Election Graphs had Clinton leading, but just barely.

Other analysts looking at the internals of various polls, both at the state and national level are saying that Biden's support is more solid than Clinton's was. That she had weaknesses that Biden does not.

Maybe, maybe not. In any case, he is doing better at this time in the race than she was. A 7.3% tipping point is a SUBSTANTIAL lead.

Another way to look at the change since the last update on June 18th is to look at how the center portion of the spectrum of states changed.

Here is what it looked like in our last update:

And here is how it looks today:

Things are getting bluer.

To close things out, the current map:

And that is where we are.

But it is only July. Time to watch what happens over the summer.

125.7 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.

Is Impeachment Hurting the Dems?

Once again, too long between updates. Since the last one on November 20th there have been new polls in Wisconsin (x3), New Hampshire, California (x2), Texas (x2), Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Iowa.

If I'd been posting weekly as I had intended, there would have been a post looking at how Election Graphs win odds correlated to the popular vote polling averages at RCP and using that to measure the Democrats' Electoral College disadvantage. (Spoiler: As of right now it looks like Democrats need an approximately 6% popular vote win margin to have a 50/50 chance of winning the Electoral College.)

I also would have done a post talking about how while for us political junkies, it seems inconceivable that people don't know who at least the top five Democratic candidates are, this article in the Washington Post by Robert Griffin lays out a pretty convincing case that a large part of the differences in polling between Democratic candidates vs. Trump is STILL simply that lots of people don't know who some of these people are, something that clearly would change before Election Day if they were to win the nomination. That is obviously very important when interpreting what we see here on Election Graphs, which is 100% driven by state level general election matchup polls.

But I kind of missed talking about both those points when they were fresh. So I'll let the above suffice for now.

The main thing I want to look at today is this:

This shows the median electoral college result from the Election Graphs Monte Carlo simulations for each candidate pair.

For both Biden and Sanders there is a very clear "V" shaped pattern. (OK, if you look closely, you can see a "W", but the large scale pattern is a "V".) In the first half of this V, as new polls came in and the state averages moved from the baseline based on the 2000-2016 elections, to averages based on 2020 polls, almost every poll made Sanders and Biden look better.

Although he dropped out already, you can see a smaller scale version of this "V" pattern with O'Rourke as well.

Buttigieg doesn't show the initial portion of this V. As the initial polls came in, his results basically just stayed at about the same level as the 2000-2016 baseline. Frankly though, there was very little Buttigieg vs. Trump state level polling in this time frame though, which would explain that.

But all four of these candidates share the second half of the "V". Starting at a specific point in time, as new polling results came in, more often than not, the state averages would move away from the Democrat, and so the median electoral college results would also move the same direction.

When you look at the charts, the inflection point seems to be… well… very close to the date Nancy Pelosi announced that she was officially backing the impeachment investigation over the Ukraine issue.

There are some ups and downs, and you could argue that the best numbers for the Democrats were perhaps a little bit earlier or a little bit later, but roughly speaking, leading up to that announcement on September 24th, every week Sanders, Biden, and O'Rourke looked better in the polls than the week before, while Buttigieg held steady. After September 24th though, Sanders, Biden, Buttigieg, and O'Rourke all looked weaker in each subsequent week.

This may be a coincidence. It may just relate to which pollsters put out polls in which states during this time period. It may just be a "reversion to the mean" after a series of earlier polls were more favorable to the Democrats than was really reflected by the ground truth…

But the location of the inflection point compared to the date when impeachment moved from something a few people were talking about, to a real thing that was happening is hard to ignore. It certainly LOOKS like the impeachment efforts are hurting the Democratic candidates in state level head to head polling against Trump. State after state where the polling averages had moved from red to blue, have now slipped back into the red again.

But wait. There has been one clear omission in the discussion above.

Warren's trend line just does not match the patterns followed by the four candidates discussed above. (Neither did Harris's for that matter, but she dropped out, so we won't spend more time there.) There is no clear "V" shape like Sanders, Biden, and O'Rourke. Nor does Warren follow Buttigieg's pattern.

In fact, Warren does not show any change that looks like it coincides with impeachment events. Initially as early polls came in, she looked like she would do worse than the median based on the 2000-2016 averages. Then she started doing a little better than that. And now she's a little worse again.

The fact that the reversal in fortunes that lines up with the impeachment announcement does not seem to apply to Warren (or Harris) seems notable. After all, Warren was one of the first Democratic candidates to come out strongly in favor of impeachment, and she did so strongly. If there was an impact from impeachment, why wouldn't it touch her? Perhaps even more than other candidates? This may in fact be an argument toward this movement NOT being tied directly to impeachment, but rather to something unrelated.

Without information that specifically digs into motivations rather than just candidate preferences, it is hard to say anything definitive. But the alignment certainly is suggestive. We shall see if those trends continue as the impeachment saga continues to play out.

In the mean time, we'll close out by looking at the changes in our main metrics since the last update post, followed by some of the state level charts.

Dem 20 Nov 16 Dec 𝚫
Biden +158 +126 -32
Sanders +88 +56 -32
Warren +50 +24 -26
Buttigieg -6 -44 -38

All four still active Democrats weakened significantly in their "median case" from the Election Graphs Monte Carlo simulations.

This  has not been a good month for the Democrats.

Dem 20 Nov 16 Dec 𝚫
Biden 99.9% 99.4% -0.5%
Sanders 95.0% 83.5% -11.5%
Warren 81.8% 67.2% -14.6%
Buttigieg 44.3% 16.5% -27.8%

Given how far ahead Biden was, his win odds are still 99%+. But the other three took pretty big hits these last few weeks.

Especially Buttigieg. Last time he was already the only candidate with a less than 50% chance of beating Trump. But now that has dropped to a paltry 16.5%.

Dem 20 Nov 16 Dec 𝚫
Biden +210 +178 -32
Sanders +118 +58 -60
Warren +48 +14 -34
Buttigieg +6 -86 -92

Using the older and simpler "expected case" where every candidate simply wins every state where they lead the polls, you see similar across the board drops to what you see in the "median case" from the simulation, but the drops are even more dramatic.

Dem 20 Nov 16 Dec 𝚫
Biden +4.4% +4.3% -0.1%
Sanders +1.8% +1.0% -0.8%
Warren +0.6% +0.6% Flat
Buttigieg +0.2% -1.3% -1.5%

For the tipping point, which measures how much of a gain would be needed to flip the electoral college winner if that gain occurred uniformly across all states, Warren manages to stay flat, but the other three Democrats get weaker.

Finally, presented without additional commentary, the updated state charts in each of the states with new polling. You'll notice the recent swing toward Trump occurs in almost every state.

The news is coming hot and heavy these days. Iowa is now less than 50 days away. Things will develop quickly. Stay tuned.

323.6 days until polls start to close.

For more information:

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

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

Goodbye Blue Texas

It has once again been longer than I like, but it is time for another post.

Since the last update, there have been new polls in Michigan (x3), Nevada (x2), Texas (x2), Arizona (x2), Pennsylvania (x3), Florida (x2), North Carolina (x3), Wisconsin (x2), Iowa, Georgia (x4), and New Hampshire.

That is a lot. Sorry about that. Oops.

The most striking individual state result is that after peaking in September with three of the top six Democrats leading Trump in the Texas averages, and two more getting close, Texas has been moving back toward Trump.

As of now, none of the six most polled Democrats lead in Texas, and only three of those keep Trump's lead to less than 5%. And one of those (O'Rourke) has already dropped out of the race, leaving only Sanders and Biden still making it close.

Converting this to win odds, Biden has a 30.1% chance of winning the state (if the election was today), and Sanders has a 25.0% chance of winning.

None of the rest (except O'Rourke, who is out) is above 5%.

So Texas is reverting to form. It may be closer than it has been in previous years, but at least for the moment, the Democratic hopes for a blue Texas seem to be fading.

I'll go over other states with new polling at the end of the post, but first, a look at four ways of looking at the changes in the national summary since the last post.

O'Rourke vs. Trump is now in the top six best-polled candidate combinations (replacing Sanders vs. Pence). But since O'Rourke dropped out, we will leave him out and only look at the top five for now.

I haven't done posts showing the update-to-update comparisons for the older "categorization method" before, but since that used to be the bread and butter of Election Graphs, let's start there.

Dem 1 Nov 20 Nov 𝚫
Biden +254 +210 -44
Sanders +190 +118 -72
Warren +38 +48 +10
Harris +20 +20 Flat
Buttigieg +6 +6 Flat

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

Warren improves her position a little.

Harris and Buttigieg are flat.

Dem 1 Nov 20 Nov 𝚫
Biden +5.3% +4.4% -0.9%
Sanders +4.7% +1.8% -2.9%
Harris +1.4% +1.4% Flat
Warren +0.3% +0.6% +0.3%
Buttigieg +0.6% +0.2% -0.4%

Looking at the tipping points, which is analogous to the popular vote, but adjusted for the structure of the electoral college, once again, Warren is the only Democrat who is improving.

Harris is flat.

Biden, Sanders, and Buttigieg all lose ground to different degrees.

Note that while for a short time, Biden had a tipping point greater than 5%, meaning he could win using only states where he led by more than 5% and didn't even need any swing states. That is no longer true.

Now all five of these Democrats have tipping points indicating that they need to win at least some tight states to win.

Now, moving on to the more elaborate probabilistic model I look at a bit more these days…

Dem 1 Nov 20 Nov 𝚫
Biden +184 +158 -26
Sanders +124 +88 -36
Warren +36 +50 +14
Harris +8 +12 +4
Buttigieg -4 -6 -2

This view shows the "Median Case." The median case is the electoral vote margin in the exact middle of the 1,000,001 simulation runs done for each candidate combination when sorted by the margin. About half the time, the Democrat does better than this. About half the time, they do worse.

Warren and Harris both improve a bit. Biden, Sanders, and Buttigieg all lose ground.

Note that while in the classification view, all five Democrats lead Trump, in the probabilistic view, Buttigieg's median case is actually to lose.

But we need to look at probabilities, not the single "median case" estimate. You should not think that since a candidate is ahead or behind on the median case, that maps to winning and losing.

For instance, Buttigieg's median case is a six electoral vote loss to Trump. But if you look at the 2σ range, that is the range of outcomes that you would expect to occur 95.45% of the time; you get a range from Buttigieg winning by 92 electoral votes to Trump winning by 90 electoral votes.

There is a huge range of possibilities. It isn't just "Trump is ahead in the median case, so he wins."

So time to look at the win odds…

Dem 1 Nov 20 Nov 𝚫
Biden 100.0% 99.9% -0.1%
Sanders 98.3% 95.0% -3.3%
Warren 73.1% 81.8% +8.7%
Harris 54.6% 58.2% +3.6%
Buttigieg 46.0% 44.3% -1.7%

The trends above, which cover just under three weeks, show Warren and Harris improving, while Biden, Sanders, and Buttigieg slip back.

But looking back a bit farther, we can see some overall trends going back to September.

Biden continues to be pegged at a 99%+ chance of winning. His lead in some states has slipped, but his overall margins are high enough that this hasn't yet started to impact his chances of winning.

Sanders never had as big a margin lead as Biden, so as some of those states slipped back toward Trump, you see a more significant impact on his odds of winning.

Harris and Buttigieg have never done all that much better than a coin flip against Trump, peaking at around a 70% chance of winning. But since September, they have both dropped significantly, with Buttigieg now only at a 44.3% chance of winning, and Harris only at 58.2%.

The only candidate consistently improving over the last few months has been Warren. She bottomed out at only a 41.7% shot of winning in June, and while there have been ups and downs, the trend is clearly in Warren's direction.

We will, of course, see if that lasts. As can be seen by the spike toward Trump in June, trends can reverse quite quickly.

Now, besides Texas, here are a few additional states where there are trends worth noting. (Since so many places had new polls, I'll skip a few where there is less to comment on.)

No clear trends in Florida except to note that it is an exceptionally close race no matter which Democrat you match up against Trump. As has been usual for the last few presidential races, Florida is right on the line. And it is big. So it makes a huge difference.

The general trend in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin over the past few months has been for Democratic leads to decrease.

In Pennsylvania, there is no Democrat with more than a 5% lead, and Warren (and O'Rourke) are both slightly behind.

At this point, only Biden has a lead higher than 5% in Michigan.

In Wisconsin, all the Democrats still lead, but none by more than 5%.

These are, of course, the three states that gave Trump his victory in 2016. At the moment, they are all looking to be close battlegrounds once again.

The people who say that the Democratic nominee needs to pay close attention to these states are certainly not wrong.

And at the moment, the Democrats seem to be slipping in all three.

Pollsters have not paid as much attention to Georgia as I would like. But there have been a bunch of polls in the last few weeks and they show a competitive state, which is a significant change from the historical average.

The poll average now shows Biden and Sanders ahead, with Warren, Harris, and Buttigieg all bringing Trump's lead under 5%.

(O'Rourke has never been polled in Georgia, and now that he has dropped out, probably will never be. Sniff.)

Although Biden has reversed a bit recently, overall Sanders, Warren, and Biden are making North Carolina a narrowly fought battleground.

Harris and Buttigieg, while they are still keeping Trump's lead under 5%, do not seem to be gaining any additional ground lately.

Arizona has also been moving toward the Democrats. At least for Sanders, Warren, and Biden. Warren and Biden actually are slightly leading. Sanders brings Trump's lead under 5%.

Harris and Buttigieg, on the other hand, are not making things much closer than the historical 7.6% average Republican margin in the state. Just as in North Carolina, they lag behind the stronger Democrats.

So Trump is gaining in Texas, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

But the Democrats are gaining in Georgia, North Carolina, and Arizona.

As we get closer, things will heat up; there will be lots more polls and more movement.

Are we having fun yet?

349.7 days until polls start to close on election night.

For more information:

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

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

Another Mixed Week for Dems

Since last week's update, there has been new polling released in Arizona (x2), Colorado, Kentucky, Maine, North Carolina, California (x2), Florida, Texas, and Missouri.

Once again we have mixed results.

Two of the six most polled Democrats (Biden and O'Rourke) improve their positions in the probabilistic view when you combine the results of all of those polls.

The other four (Sanders, Buttigieg, Warren, and Harris) slip in their matchups against Trump. Some weaken significantly.

So let's start with the national "Odds of a Democratic Win" view:

Dem 15 Sep 22 Sep 𝚫
Biden 99.8% 99.9% +0.1%
Sanders 96.9% 95.3% -1.6%
O'Rourke 80.8% 83.1% +2.3%
Buttigieg 67.0% 66.5% -0.5%
Warren 69.0% 62.4% -6.6%
Harris 65.7% 54.7% -11.0%

The two that stand out here are Warren and Harris. The new polls this week hurt their win chances significantly. Harris is now looking only slightly better off than a coin toss in a race against Trump.

We'll look at each state to determine where these changes are coming from, but first, you can also see this pattern dramatically when looking at the "Median Case" from the Monte Carlo simulations.

In this view, you can see that the winning margins of every  Democratic candidate except O'Rourke have been decreasing lately. Including Biden.

A lot of the "movement" of these various lines up until now could still be attributed to actual 2020 polling replacing old elections in our state polling averages. We are getting to the point though where a lot (although not all) of the critical states are mostly 2020 polls.

So we may start seeing trends that represent real changes in public opinion. We will also begin to see what level of variability is just inherent in looking at the election this way. It may end up being "normal" that some of these lines bounce up and down quite a bit as we go along.

In the meantime though, time to look at the trends in each of the states where there was new polling over the last week. There are a lot, so I'll be brief.

California is so blue; it is mostly irrelevant to the national race. All of the Democrats have a 100% chance of winning California. It is notable though that all six candidates are doing even stronger in California than the historical average from the 2000 to 2016 elections. California is getting even bluer.

A lot of the win odds changes this week can be attributed to Texas. With the latest polling in Texas, the trend of each new poll moving the state further in the Democratic direction has ended. Biden and O'Rourke still improve slightly, but every other Democrat erodes. Along with Biden and O'Rourke, Sanders retains a lead. Warren, Harris, and Buttigieg not only lose Texas but the picture of them "making it close" is slipping. At least this week.

Florida is the other big state responsible for much of this week's changes. The only Democrats who did not weaken in Florida this week are the ones that were not in the polls. Florida has a lot of electoral votes, and Florida is close, so it has an outsized impact on the national picture.

The only mover this week in North Carolina is Biden, with his average moving to a greater than 5% lead for the first time. Trump leads all the other Democrats by narrow margins.

Arizona is another state where there is a big gap between Biden and the rest of the field. This week Biden took the lead in the Arizona poll average. Add Arizona to Texas as red states that flip, and you can see why Biden's national position remains so strong.  Sanders also makes Arizona close, but all of the other Democrats are hovering around the historical average, which is a Strong Republican win.

Missouri is clear red state, and with two polls so far this cycle, it just looks like it is getting redder.

At the same time, Colorado is getting bluer. Only Biden moves the state into Strong Democrat territory so far though. The other candidates still only have narrow leads in the polling average.

Kentucky is red and not in contention for 2020. With the small amount of polling so far though, Biden still does best, actually decreasing the Republican margin slightly. Not so much for the others.

Finally Maine. Maine is blue and does not look to be changing into anything else. With the first few polls, Biden looked like he might be making it even bluer than before. But as we stand today, all of the Democrats are pretty close to the historical average for the state.

And that is where things are this week.

408.0 days until polls start to close.

For more information:

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

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

Some Dems Up, Some Dems Down

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

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

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

Looking at how this impacted the national numbers:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sanders improved slightly in Pennsylvania.

Biden's lead deteriorated significantly.

Warren lost her lead to Trump.

The poll did not include the others.

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

The poll did not include the others.

Warren got stronger in Wisconsin.

Biden and Sanders got weaker.

The poll did not include the others.

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

The poll did not include Buttigieg or O'Rourke.

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

415.6 days until polls start to close.

For more information:

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

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.

Blue Texas?!?

I hate to talk about Texas two posts in a row, but even though there have been polls in California, North Carolina, and North Dakota since the last update as well, once again the most significant changes are in Texas. The two new polls in Texas continued to move things toward the Democrats.

In Texas, Harris did move within 5% of Trump in the Election Graphs average. This change leaves Buttigieg the only one of the six most polled Democrats where Trump has a Texas lead more than 5%.

More notably though, with this set of polls, the lead flips over to the Democratic side for Biden, Sanders, and O'Rourke.

Now, this very well may be transient. These leads may well evaporate long before the election. At the moment, though, three of the top six Democrats are LEADING in Texas.

That is remarkable.

At the moment, O'Rourke has the most significant margin of the three. He has a 2.1% lead. Which to be clear, is a very narrow lead. It translates into a 66.4% chance of winning the state, compared to 33.6% for Trump. But still. For now, it makes Texas notably blue on my national O'Rourke vs. Trump map:

After last week's update, I got a comment on Facebook saying one of the recent polls looked like an outlier. Even at the time, it only looked like an outlier for some candidate pairings, not for others, but let's look at what things look like now for each of the three Democrats showing a lead in Texas.

First Biden vs. Trump: It is hard to tell just visually which are the last five polls that are included in the average because the 5th and 6th oldest polls are close together in time, but number five is the one with a 7% Trump lead. That was a poll from WPA Intelligence back in April, and if anything, THAT is the recent poll that looks like an outlier. If you excluded that poll, the average of the last five polls would be a 2.1% Biden lead instead of the 0.5% lead he has.

UT Tyler is responsible for two of the polls in the average because they polled Texas right before and right after the second Democratic Debates. But even accounting for that there looks to be plenty of evidence from multiple pollsters at this point that Biden is leading Trump in Texas at the moment.

Now Sanders vs. Trump: Every single one of the polls from the last year shows a close race for this paring. Three show Trump with a small lead. Three show Sanders slightly ahead. Of the five that go into the Election Graphs average, three have Sanders ahead. These three are the most recent. Two of these three are from UT Tyler. But there are also two Emerson polls in the five poll average.

Overall, showing Sanders with an 0.5% lead seems reasonable here.

Sanders matches Biden with that 0.5% lead. In both cases, this is just barely a lead. It translates into a 51.1% chance of the Democrat winning, vs. 48.9% for Trump based on historical Election Graphs results. So it is essentially a coin toss.

Finally O'Rourke vs. Trump: If we look at all the polls this year, the two that look like outliers are the Atlantic poll from January showing Trump ahead by 13%, and the UT Tyler poll from July showing O'Rourke ahead by 11.2%. The Atlantic one is already out of the five poll average. If you take out that UT Tyler poll (leaving the other UT Tyler poll that shows a 5.7% O'Rourke lead) and average the last five polls other than that one, O'Rourke's 2.1% lead disappears, and you have a 0.3% lead for Trump instead.

So of these three, O'Rourke's lead, while the biggest, seems the most likely to be due to an outlier result rather than a real edge.

Let's look at the comparison of all six democrats against Trump:

The leads by Biden, Sanders, and O'Rourke may not be real. Or they may be temporary, something that will be gone as soon as we have a few more polls. And even if they are not imaginary, they are very narrow leads.

But five of the six best polled Democrats are making Texas look like it is in contention. And the 6th isn't far behind. That is the real story of Texas at the moment.

It is in play in a way it hasn't been in decades.

Biden, Sanders, Warren, and Harris all improved with this week's North Carolina poll as well, with Sanders now joining Biden with leads in the Election Graphs averages over Trump.

As one might guess, the new polls in North Dakota and California didn't change what you would expect of those two states.

Between Texas and North Carolina, there is a pretty significant impact on the national picture:

On the straight-up "Expected Case" where each candidate wins every state they lead the Election Graphs poll average, you can see the improvements for Biden and O'Rourke as they take the lead in Texas, and for Sanders, as he takes the lead in both Texas and North Carolina.

By this way of looking at things, out of these six Democrats, all except Harris are now ahead in the Electoral College view, with Harris losing to Trump by six electoral votes.

Looking at the more sophisticated probabilistic model, we can see that all six Democrats win in the median case. Biden, Sanders, and O'Rourke win by a bit larger margins, while Warren, Buttigieg, and Harris are all bunched up together with relatively narrow wins.

The median, of course, doesn't tell the whole story.

As of this week, the candidate detail pages now all show charts showing the likely ranges of Electoral College results given the results of our probabilistic model.

The exact distributions are very spiky, with certain electoral college margins being much more likely than others right next to them due to how state distributions work. You can see an example distribution based on 2016 data on this post from January describing the Monte Carlo methods I'm using in my model.

I've considered a couple of different visualizations of the exact distribution, and may still do that in the future if I have time, but for now, I thought it would be more useful to show a simplified version highlighting "zones" of likelihood.

The dark line in the center is the median.

The darkest band includes 1σ (68.27%) of the simulation outcomes.

The next darkest band includes 2σ (95.45%) of the results.

And the lightest band includes 3σ (99.73%) of them.

So basically, the darker the color band, the more likely the result.

You can see the 3σ band only barely includes the possibility of a Trump victory.

Compare this with how this chart looks for Buttigieg, currently the weakest of these six candidates:

While Biden shows relentless improvement across all bands as additional polling comes in, Buttigieg's median stays just about constant, while all of the probability zones widen. Buttigieg's median result is not doing any better or any worse as we get more polls and time progresses, but the uncertainty on how Buttigieg would do is increasing.

Looking at these probability band trends tells you a lot more than just looking at the medians.

Of course, you can also look at the simulation and count the wins on each side, and the number of 269-269 ties, and then come up with the odds for each of those events. That's where all the probabilistic results I've mentioned in the last few updates have come from, but now there are charts for that too. Looking again at Biden and Buttigieg as examples:

You can see that as more and more polling has come in, Biden has increased his chance of winning, to the point where it is now nearly 100%. (Insert at this point the usual caveats about how long it is until the election and how much can change.)

Meanwhile, Buttigieg has not done that. Chances of a Trump win over Buttigieg have increased as more polling has come in.

Those are the two new graph types I added this week. I hope you like them.

Lets put this all together by looking at the comparisons of the odds for each of the Democrats against Trump.

To keep the same "Down good for Democrat. Up good for Republican" orientation, we would look at the odds of a Republican win. It looks like this:

Given that we have the same Republican in all six cases though, it has been somewhat handier to look at the odds of the Democrat winning.

So let's flip it over.

Because there is a non-zero and changing chance of a 269-269 tie in all of these cases, these aren't quite exactly just the same graph reversed top to bottom. They differ by the width of the white strip of ties in the two previous charts. But it is close.

You can see the jumps up with Sanders and O'Rourke based on the batch of new polling in this update. The polls were good for Biden too, but he has very little room left to improve in this view.

Let's look at the table:

Dem 3 Aug 11 Aug 𝚫
Biden 99.6% 99.8% +0.2%
Sanders 89.0% 94.8% +5.8%
O'Rourke 64.7% 80.0% +15.3%
Warren 58.2% 65.8% +7.6%
Harris 62.2% 63.7% +1.5%
Buttigieg 62.9% 62.4% -0.5%

The big gainers this last week were O'Rourke, Warren, and Sanders.

Warren, Harris, and Buttigieg are still only a little better than tossups against Trump, while Biden, Sanders, and O'Rourke look like clear favorites.

450.7 days until polls start to close.

For more information:

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

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

Whoa, Look at Texas

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

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

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

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

Texas is the headline.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So how have things been changing?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In any case… 458.1 days until polls start to close. Stay tuned!

For more information:

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

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