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.

Ups and Downs

Since the last update on June 2nd, there have been new state polls in Kansas, Arizona (x4), Florida (x4), Michigan (x6), North Carolina (x4), Pennsylvania (x2), Wisconsin (x3), Texas (x2), Ohio, California, Iowa (x3), Oklahoma, Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, Missouri, Arkansas, New Mexico, and Mississippi.

Now, there has been lots of reporting in the last couple of weeks about national polls moving strongly away from Trump and toward Biden.

The view here looking at state polls is a bit more complicated. Some states moved toward Trump while some moved toward Biden. And combining that into an Electoral College view, Trump strengthened a bit at the start, then Biden made up all of that ground and then some by the end. Overall Biden is a bit stronger now than at our last update.

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

Model Metric 2 Jun 18 Jun 𝚫
Categories Trump Best
Expected
Biden Best
Trump +2
Biden +130
Biden +288
Trump +42
Biden +130
Biden +288
Trump +40
FLAT
FLAT
Tipping Point Biden +4.3 Biden +4.8% Biden +0.5%
Probabilities Trump 2σ
Median
Biden 2σ
Biden +22
Biden +122
Biden +234
Biden +32
Biden +132
Biden +242
Biden +10
Biden +10
Biden +8
Trump Win
Tie
Biden Win
0.5%
0.1%
99.4%
0.3%
0.1%
99.6%
-0.2%
FLAT
+0.2%

The most obvious change here is the improvement of Trump's best case in the categorization view by 40 EV.

For the categorization view, a state is considered to be "in play" if the margin is less than 5%. This change was driven by Biden's lead in the Pennsylvania poll average dropping below 5%.

You'll also notice that the "Expected Case" in the categorization view moved 30 EV toward Trump, then reverted to what it was before. This is due to the average in North Carolina moving from just barely Biden, to just barely Trump, and back again within the scope of a few days.

Those are the states that actually shifted categories since the last update. But let's look at the other close states that have new polling this time around too:

Trump is still leading Texas, but it has been moving toward Biden recently. A blue Texas would change the game completely. Biden isn't quite there. But it is close enough it should make the Trump camp nervous.

Biden has had a small lead in the Florida average all along, but it has been trending further in his direction lately. Another really strong poll and Florida might even move over the 5% threshold so we wouldn't even classify it as a close state. (Although it is just as likely that the TIPP poll showing Biden with a greater than 10% lead is an outlier and the average will soon revert to a small Biden lead.)

Ohio is surprisingly sparsely polled, but the average flipped from Biden to Trump in May and the one new poll in the last month didn't move the average at all.

Georgia is barely on the Trump side of the line, and trending toward Biden.

In Arizona Biden has moved from our "strong lead" to our "weak lead" category since May. He still leads, but Trump has been closing the gap.

Iowa is still a Trump state, but the average has been tightening there too.

If you count these up, you'll see five of the eight close states with new polls have been moving toward Biden, and three have been moving toward Trump.

When you mash all this together into our probabilistic model, you get this:

In the last couple of weeks, things moved toward Trump for a little bit, then started moving back toward Biden, and his median position is now 10 EV better than it was when we did our last update.

The switch from things improving for Trump to improving for Biden does seem to be just a few days after the death of George Floyd, just when the aftermath of that event was dominating the news.

In terms of the median case of our simulations, the last time Biden was doing better than he is today was on December 5th.

In terms of probability of winning though, Biden was better off much more recently, on May 19th.

The tipping point is also moving back toward Biden again:

Biden is back where he was in May, but you have to go back all the way to October to find a time he was doing better.

All of this looks very strong for Biden. But remember how fast the tipping point can shift. In 2016 on at least a couple of occasions, it moved 5% or 6% within just a few weeks. And so far in 2020, we have seen rapid swings of nearly 3%. The bigger the movement, the bigger the news event that has to happen to drive the change. But given the last few years, who can doubt the potential for big news events that can change a campaign overnight?

Over the last few days, there have been tons of commentators talking about Biden's national polling being much stronger than Clinton was during the 2016 campaign. Some are saying he is doing better than she EVER did on that metric. That is probably true. But we don't elect people by popular vote.

How does this look in our views?

<139 Days Out> 2016 2020
Expected Case Clinton by 144 Biden by 130
Tipping Point Clinton by 6.1% Biden by 4.8%

So yeah. Biden might well be doing better in terms of national popular vote polling than Clinton was at this stage. But Clinton was doing better when you factor in the state polls and the Electoral College.

Let's be very clear here. Biden is in a very strong position right now in terms of the Electoral College as well as the popular vote. Very strong.

But so was Clinton at the same point in the campaign. People were talking about landslides.

Then there was a bit of a roller coaster. Clinton was a lot weaker by the time we got to mid-September. Then she recovered and was strong again by mid-October. But then she collapsed again in the last few weeks. On election day, she was still favored, but it was clear Trump had a path to win and a Trump victory was very possible.

(That's looking at the Election Graphs analysis of course. Famously, lots of other sites didn't show things to be quite that close at the end. Election Graphs was one of only a handful that did.)

That kind of roller coaster may not happen this year. Biden may stay strong through the rest of the race. We shall see. But nobody should be getting overconfident at this stage.

OK, so to round it out, here is the spectrum of the "weak" states that are actively in play, plus the "strong" states that might be brought into play with some big improvements by one side or the other:

And of course the current map:

And that is where we are.

138.7 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.

Small Improvements for Trump

Since the last update on May 9th, there have been new polls in California [x2], Ohio, Texas, Wisconsin [x3], Nebraska (CD2), Georgia [x3], New Jersey, North Carolina [x4], Florida [x4], Colorado, Arizona [x3], Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Michigan [x4], Pennsylvania [x2], Washington [2], Minnesota, Maryland, Utah, New York, South Carolina, Indiana, and Missouri.

Despite all of this polling, things actually moved very little.

We'll start with the changes since last time on all of the metrics, then look at the graphs.

Model Metric 9 May 2 Jun 𝚫
Categories Trump Best
Expected
Biden Best
TIED
Biden +166
Biden +286
Trump +2
Biden +130
Biden +288
Trump +2
Trump +36
Biden +2
Tipping Point Biden +4.2 Biden +4.3% Biden +0.1%
Probabilities Trump 2σ
Median
Biden 2σ
Biden +36
Biden +130
Biden +240
Biden +22
Biden +122
Biden +234
Trump +14
Trump +8
Trump +6
Trump Win
Tie
Biden Win
0.2%
0.0%
99.8%
0.5%
0.1%
99.4%
+0.3%
+0.1%
-0.4%

The biggest change is in the "Expected Case" where Trump reduces his losing margin against Biden from 166 EV to 130 EV.

This is due to Ohio.

The polling average in Ohio moved from just barely Biden, to just barely Trump. Since the categorization model's Expected Case only cares who is in the lead, not by how much, this moves Ohio's 18 EV from one side to the other, for a net change in margin of 36 EV.

The probabilistic view, however, recognizes that both of these situations represent a close state that is very much in play. In addition, other close states move around a bit without actually changing category, but in ways that move the probabilistic results.

The net result is still Biden weakening a bit, just not quite as much as in the categorization view:

Aside from Ohio, Trump had nice movements in his direction in two close states:

This was countered a little bit by improvements for Biden in a couple of states:

But that wasn't enough to improve Biden's overall situation. On balance, although it has been small, the movement in the last few weeks has been toward Trump.

If the election was held today, Biden retains an overwhelming advantage.

But as usual, we point out that the race is dynamic. It would only take a 4.3% shift in the polls to make Trump the favorite, and that kind of change can happen in a matter of weeks. We have a long way to go.

Right now these are the battlegrounds:

And this is the map:

154.7 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 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.

The Crisis Bump is Over

Since the last update on April 22nd, there have been new state-level polls in Florida (x2), Michigan (x6), Pennsylvania (x6), Wisconsin (x3), New Jersey (x2), North Carolina (x5), New Mexico, Texas (x3), New York (x2), Ohio, Utah, Montana (x2), Kansas, Georgia (x2), New Hampshire, Iowa, Colorado (x2), Nevada, Connecticut, and Massachusetts (x2).

Whew. That is a lot. I should probably start adapting my posting schedule to do these blog posts a bit more often, as we are now less than six months from the election, and polls are coming out more and more frequently. As a reminder though, you can always go to the main 2020 Electoral College page to see the up to moment version of all the data.

Let's start with the table summarizing the changes since the last update, and then we'll get to the graphs:

Model Metric 22 Apr 9 May 𝚫
Categories Trump Best
Expected
Biden Best
Trump +72
Biden +126
Biden +286
TIED
Biden+166
Biden +286
Biden +72
Biden +40
Flat
Tipping Point Biden +2.0% Biden +4.2% Biden +2.2%
Probabilities Trump 2σ
Median
Biden 2σ
Trump +26
Biden +80
Biden +204
Biden +36
Biden +130
Biden +240
Biden +62
Biden +50
Biden +36
Trump Win
Tie
Biden Win
6.5%
0.5%
93.0%
0.2%
0.0%
99.8%
-6.3%
-0.5%
+6.8%

Looky there. Everything is moving toward Biden this time.

The current map looks like this:

That is a pretty nice map for Biden.

Now it is graph time.

Right around the time COVID-19 became big news at the end of March, there was a wave of good polls for Trump. I speculated that this might have been a "crisis bump". There is no good way to tell for sure that was the reason for the move, but from March 15th to April 17th Trump gained 48 electoral votes in his median margin in our Monte Carlo simulation using state poll averages to look at the electoral college.

Almost the moment I posted that last update on April 22nd though, the tide turned, with almost every new poll strengthening his position in the state averages. Biden pulled back the 48 electoral votes of margin, plus 4 more.

In terms of the median margin in our simulations, Biden is now back where he was in mid-December. Still not as strong as he looked last fall, but certainly an improvement over a few weeks ago.

The odds of Biden winning if the election was today are once again at 99.8%, so close to 100% it is hard to distinguish on a chart like this. This chart is actually rather boring when it is like this.

But this is the part in the post when I emphasize that the election is NOT held today, and things can change rather rapidly.

The two charts above did not exist on Election Graphs four years ago, so time to look at the ones that did:

This is the categorization view. The centerline is where every candidate wins every state where they lead in the poll average. The upper and lower bounds are if all the close states go in one direction or the other. On this measure, Biden currently wins by 166 electoral votes.

We have 179 days left until election night.

So let's get in the time machine and look at the last 179 days of the 2016 election…

179 days out, on this same metric, Clinton led by 156 electoral votes. Not quite as good as Biden is right now. But close. She maintained this lead until the end of August, then lost almost all of it in the first half of September, only to rally back in late September and early October, followed by a collapse in the last month before the election. She ended up losing by a 77 electoral vote margin. (It would only have been 74 if not for faithless electors.)

When I say things can change a lot during the course of the campaign, this is the kind of volatility we can expect. Things change and change rapidly. We should expect this.

The tipping point is the metric I point to as a way to measure how precarious the current situation is, regardless of the 99.8% chance of winning if the election was today.

Biden now leads by 4.2% in the tipping point metric. Much better than he was when we did our last update, but once again, let's compare to 2016:

179 days before the 2016 election, Clinton had a 6.4% lead in her tipping point state. On this metric, she was much stronger at this point than Biden's 4.2%.

The tipping point metric is much more volatile than the "expected case". Clinton goes from leading by 6.4% to only leading by 0.4%, then rallies back to lead by 6.0%, only to have it all collapse again in the last month. The actual tipping point in the election results was an 0.8% Trump win.

That final collapse didn't start until the second week of October.

Everything changed in the last month.

We have a long way to go.

178.9 days until polls start to close.

For more information:

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

Just Biden vs. Trump Now

Since the last update on April 7th, there have been new state-level polls in Utah, Michigan, Wisconsin, Connecticut, Virginia, Arizona, North Carolina, Florida, Indiana, Washington, and Mississippi.

Also, since the last update, Sanders dropped out. As I mentioned in that post, that is my trigger for all future updates to simply be about the presumptive nominees, Biden and Trump.

I will allow myself one final note about Sanders. There were a handful of polls on Sanders vs. Trump after the last post. They just continued to make things worse for Sanders. Unless something strange happens, there will be no more Sanders vs. Trump polls.

His final position in the Election Graphs categorization model "expected case" was a four electoral vote loss to Trump with a 1.1% tipping point margin.

The "median case" in the probabilistic model was a 269-269 tie. The odds in that model were a 50.0% chance of a Trump win, a 48.5% chance of a Sanders win, and a 1.6% chance of that tie.

So that's that for Sanders.

Now time to talk Biden vs. Trump.

Things have gotten worse for Biden too.

Let's start with a new table comparing where we were at the last blog post compared to today:

Model Metric 7 Apr 22 Apr 𝚫
Categories Trump Best
Expected
Biden Best
Trump +94
Biden +126
Biden +286
Trump +72
Biden +126
Biden +286
Biden +22
Flat
Flat
Tipping Point Biden +2.8% Biden +2.0% Trump +0.8%
Probabilities Trump 2σ
Median
Biden 2σ
Trump +10
Biden +98
Biden +216
Trump +26
Biden +80
Biden +204
Trump +16
Trump +18
Trump +12
Trump Win
Tie
Biden Win
3.4%
0.3%
96.3%
6.5%
0.5%
93.0%
-3.3%
+0.2%
+3.1%

There are a lot of numbers there. When we were comparing candidates, we were only looking at four of these.

The additions here are:

  • The "best cases" in the categorization view, where we give all the states where the margin is less than 5% to one candidate or the other
  • The "2σ" limits containing 95.45% of the results in our probabilistic Monte Carlo simulation
  • The breakouts of the Trump win and tie odds as well as the Biden win odds

Including both the old metrics and the new ones, this time around all but one (Trump's best case in the categorization view) move toward Trump.

Time for some graphs.

This is the graph I look at the most. This shows the results of the probabilistic Monte Carlo simulations. The dark line is the median result, where half the time Biden does better, and half the time Trump does better. The darkest center band contains 1σ (68.27%) of the simulation outcomes. The next band contains 2σ (95.45%) of the outcomes, and the lightest band contains 3σ (99.73%) of the outcomes.

From mid-February to mid-March things were moving in Biden's direction for the first time in many months. But then that reversed and things started moving in Trump's direction again. This does seem to roughly coincide with when the COVID-19 pandemic really started to dominate public discussion. So perhaps this is a "crisis bump".

Whatever the cause, Trump is in his best position relative to Biden in over a year.

This move toward Trump in the last month is not as evident in the categorization view. Why?

Well, because most of the movement in the polls hasn't actually shifted the averages in states from Biden to Trump.

However, the margins in a lot of the "Weak Biden" states got slimmer. Biden still leads, but not by as much as he used to. This means the chances of Trump winning those states despite the Biden lead in the poll average increases. This is reflected in the probabilistic model, but not in the categorization model.

If the election was today, Biden still has a huge advantage. 93.0% chance of a win. Not anywhere near as good as he was last fall with 99.9%+ numbers of course, but still pretty respectable.

But…

As I've mentioned over and over again and will continue to mention, probably right up until the election, the odds are based on the state level polls today, which can and will change. And they can change quickly.

The tipping point tells us that overall the polls only need to shift by 2.0% to flip the winner from Biden to Trump. It is hard to express just how slim a 2.0% lead really is. Yes, if the polls were like this on election day, we'd say Biden had a 93.0% chance of winning. But 2.0% can slip away with one bad news cycle.

Even on the chart above, without having to refer back to 2016 or earlier cycles, you can see places where the tipping point moved by almost 2% in just a single day.

2.0% can literally evaporate overnight.

With that, here is the current map:

195.2 days until polls start to close on election night.

Update 2020-04-22 19:09 UTC: Of course a new Florida poll came out while I was finishing up this blog post. It was a good poll for Biden, and Florida is big and close, so it improved Biden's position a bit. Of course, that now belongs to the time period that will be covered by my next post in a week or two…

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.

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.

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.

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.

The Post-Nevada Sanders Lead

It took a couple of days, but as of Monday afternoon, the Nevada results were final. It was clear from the moment returns started coming in that Sanders was going to win handily, but the extent of that lead in terms of the delegate estimate moved around a bit as the returns slowly came in.

During this time, the estimated number of Sanders delegates in Nevada ranged from 22 to 28, Biden ranged from 7 to 11, Buttigieg ranged from 0 to 6, and Warren ranged from 0 to 1. But once we knew the final count, these were the results from Nevada:

  • Sanders 24
  • Biden 9
  • Buttigieg 3

Sanders needed to get 19 or more of the Nevada delegates to improve his overall position in terms of the % of remaining delegates needed to win. He did that handily. The updated chart of that metric looks like this:

Remember, for this chart down is positive and up is negative. When you get down to 0%, you clinch the nomination. If a candidate goes up to 100%, they become mathematically eliminated.

Sanders has made a turn downward. He is not only in the lead, but Nevada put him on a winning pace.

Now, the general talk is about how absent a significant change, Sanders may be in an uncatchable position after Super Tuesday. That isn't based simply on today's delegate totals, but also on his polling in South Carolina, the Super Tuesday states, and nationwide, and a bit of knowledge of how a small popular vote lead translates into a massive delegate lead.

For instance, in Nevada, Sanders got about 33% of the popular vote, but that translated into 67% of the delegates. This kind of magnification for the winner is intentional in the delegate allocation rules. The 15% delegate threshold in one cause. The fact that the results in individual congressional districts determine many of the delegates is another.

Rather than look at the prognostications of how future states might go, instead, let's look at how you would expect the % of remaining delegates needed to win chart to change as this progresses. That will help us know how we will identify if it seems like Sanders is on track to a clear win, if we are heading towards a contested convention, or if someone else still has a chance to win.

To illustrate, we'll look at some graphs from previous cycles to compare to where things are now.

Let's look at the contested races in both parties since 2008 when we did the first Election Graphs delegate tracking. We'll look at them in order of how quickly the nominee was pretty clear in each contest.

Which means we will start with the Democrats in 2016:

This chart shows what it looks like when we have a runaway victory that is clear from the beginning.

Sorry, Sanders folks. 2020 is going differently, but in 2016, because of the courting of superdelegates long before Iowa even happened, Clinton built up a delegate lead starting from the very beginning.

From the 0% starting line, Clinton improved her position with every contest, and Sanders's situation got worse. The only exception was a slight bump around the 58% mark when Sanders had one outstanding day. But the overall trend was clear from the very beginning. Clinton was on the road to an outright victory, and Sanders never managed to slow that progress.

Next up, the Republicans in 2008:

It took slightly longer for this one to become apparent. Romney took an early lead, but his line stayed flat, hovering around the 50% line. McCain was heading upward along with the also-rans. But at about the 5% mark, McCain started hitting his mark and improving his position with every contest. He pulled ahead of Romney at about the 10% mark, then when Super Tuesday jumped the race over 40% every other candidate was at the point where they needed 60%+ of the remaining delegates to catch up and win. That was, of course, unrealistic. Except for one short jog just past the 50% mark, McCain kept improving his position in every race.

Unlike Clinton in 2016, McCain had some issues before Super Tuesday but hit his pace quickly, and Super Tuesday made things inevitable.

Next up, Republicans in 2012:

This chart shows an example of a slower burn. Romney was in the lead from the very beginning, but his "% of remaining delegates needed to win" basically stayed flat right around the 50% mark for a long time.

This pattern means that he was accumulating delegates much faster than anybody else, and it was clear the other candidates were not going to win outright. But the other candidates were continuing to take enough delegates to keep a contested convention an active possibility for awhile.

That changed around the 43% mark though. Winner-take-all states on the Republican side undoubtedly helped with this. But also once it is clear that candidates can't win, it becomes tough for them to actively continue a campaign based on the idea of forcing a contested convention where maybe they will be picked, but probably not. So one by one, the other candidates drop out, and then the candidate in the lead starts rolling up the remaining delegates.

So this race had a clear leader way ahead of the rest virtually from the 0% mark, but Romney didn't start hitting a winning pace consistently until 43%.

Now Democrats in 2008:

This graph shows a real two-person race. Both Obama and Clinton maintained flat lines for a long long time. Clinton was even improving a little. But not very much. Obama was getting enough delegates to keep her from hitting the marks she needed to improve the "% of remaining delegates needed to win" number significantly.

Clinton still had the advantage for more than the first half of the campaign delegate wise. Around the 50% mark, though, Obama started consistently hitting the percentages needed to improve his position while Clinton fell further and further behind. For a long time, though, the situation was dynamic. Clinton didn't get mathematically eliminated until around the 96% mark!

Finally, the Republicans in 2016:

This graph shows the closest we have gotten to a contested convention since I started tracking delegates in 2008. The other Republican candidates kept Trump over 50% of delegates needed until more than 70% of the delegates were allocated; around the same time, Cruz became mathematically eliminated. Although there were a couple of ups and downs along the way, Trump didn't start consistently improving his numbers until about the 67% mark. Until then, while Trump was way ahead, the possibility of a contested convention was kept open. But just like 2012, once it was clear that other candidates did not have a realistic path, and they started to drop away, the leader was able to take all or almost all of the remaining delegates, and wrap things up.

This year after South Carolina, we will be at 3.9% of the delegates allocated.

After Super Tuesday, we will be at 38.0%.

We'll hit 50% on March 17th  after Arizona, Florida, Illinois, and Ohio.

We'll hit 67% on April 4th  after Alaska, Hawaii, Louisiana, and Wyoming.

As we pass each of these milestones, the question is, does 2020 look like one of these past patterns? Or something else entirely?

If Sanders (or any other candidate) is under 50% of remaining delegates needed, and the number goes down after each contest, then we are on track for that candidate running away to an outright win with no significant obstacles to that result. (This is like the Democrats in 2016, or the Republicans in 2008.)

If all of the candidates except one are racing up to 100%, but the leader is kept flat around 50%, it means that while one candidate has a chance of winning outright, the other candidates are combining at a level that keeps the possibility of a contested convention open. The tendency in this situation is that once all the opposing candidates are mathematically eliminated, they will drop out, and the leader will be able to at that point hit the marks they need to get to a majority. (This is like the Republicans in 2012 or 2016.)

If two candidates are managing to keep their lines relatively flat, you have a two-person race, with both really still in contention. Until the point where one person's line goes up consistently, and the other person's line goes down, you have a real race. Unless the two candidates are closer together than the sum of the other candidates' delegate totals though, one of the two will end up winning. The only question is how close to the end you get before the winner becomes clear. (This is like the Democrats in 2008.)

So what pattern would we see if we are actually on a path to a contested convention?

If after each contest ALL the candidates' numbers for "% of remaining needed to win" go up, time after time, and every candidate is heading up toward 100%, and no candidate is curving down toward 0%, then we are actually on a path to a contested convention.

Be aware, though, until EVERY candidate has gone over 100%, someone can still win. If every candidate other than the leader drops out and stops collecting delegates, allowing the remaining candidate to claim 100% of the remaining delegates, that remaining candidate can still manage to get the delegates they need to win outright.

A contested convention scenario requires multiple candidates who know they are not on pace to get a delegate majority to keep running and accumulating delegates anyway.

That is a pretty tricky path to follow, especially for the candidates who rely on fundraising to keep going.

So far, Sanders is ahead, but it is hard to classify which of these patterns will hold. The situation is even more apparent if you rescale the 2020 Democratic chart to show the entire race:

We have just barely started. Current polling in South Carolina and the Super Tuesday states is driving the current predictions of how this race will turn out. If those polls are correct, then the projections of Sanders winning outright or having a contested convention where Sanders has a significant plurality are probably right.

But we don't know for sure quite yet.

So after South Carolina, and especially after Super Tuesday, come back here and see which ways these lines are all moving, and we'll know a lot better which kind of pattern 2020 is going to follow.

Depending on what we see, this thing may be mostly over, or we'll have indications it will go on awhile.

It will be a fun week. Keep watching Election Graphs!

138.6 days until the Democratic National Convention.

180.6 days until the Republican National Convention.

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.

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