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%.

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.

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.

Nevada Eve

Since the last update on February 11th, there have been new state-level general election polls in Alabama, Wisconsin (x2), Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Jersey, North Carolina, California (x2), Florida, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

Over on the delegate side, we currently have Buttigieg in the lead with 23 delegates, with Sanders just behind with 21, followed by Warren, Klobuchar, and Biden in single digits. But the Nevada caucuses are tomorrow, and that will all get shaken up again, and we will have a new set of narratives to run with.

In the meantime, let's look at how the various contenders are doing versus Trump with the latest polling updates.

Using the poll recency weighted by polling margin metric I use to determine which candidate pairs are the "best polled" with this update Bloomberg vs. Trump finally has better polling than O'Rourke vs. Trump, so even though that polling is still a bit more sparse than we would like we'll start including that matchup in these summaries. (This may be temporary, this only happened because at the moment the Bloomberg vs. Trump margin happens to round to zero in Wisconsin.)

Starting this time with the bottom line, the odds of winning in our probabilistic model:

Dem 11 Feb 21 Feb 𝚫
Biden 98.4% 98.4% Flat
Sanders 74.2% 77.9% +3.7%
Bloomberg —– 59.9% —–
Warren 42.5% 38.3% -4.2%
Buttigieg 11.4% 9.3% -2.1%

First of all, Bloomberg debuts doing better against Trump than Buttigieg and Warren, but not as well as Sanders or Biden. At 59.9% he is better than a coin toss, but not by a lot.

Now, caveats on Bloomberg. So far he has only been polled against Trump in 17 states, and for some reason, many of those states are ones like California or Utah, where we pretty much know who will win and the poll doesn't change the picture very much. In the close states, there still isn't even a single state where he has been polled five times, which means that we are still heavily reliant on past election results rather than 2020 polls to estimate where things are.

So maybe consider the Bloomberg numbers provisional.

Bloomberg has been spending hundreds of millions of dollars on advertising campaigns that for the most part have not been directed at the other Democrats, but instead have been attacking Trump. Bloomberg has been trying to make the case that he is better positioned to win against Trump than the other candidates in part due to his ability to do that. At this week's debate, he also specifically claimed that nominating Sanders would guarantee a Trump win.

The numbers so far just don't back that up.

Where there have been polls including Bloomberg, he generally performs in the middle of the pack against Trump. He isn't clearly doing better than the other Democrats.

Now, the others.

Sanders is the only Democrat who has improved their position over the last 10 days, moving from a 74.2% chance of winning to 77.9%.

Biden still does better than anybody else against Trump, down from his highs, but still at a very strong 98.4% with no significant change since last we looked.

Warren and Buttigieg continue to fade. Current polling shows both to be more likely to lose than to win, and the picture is getting worse with time.

OK, now the view that shows the median electoral vote result in the Monte Carlo simulations for each candidate pair. As always, keep in mind that the simulations actually show that a very large range of results is possible for each candidate, this is essentially just the line marking the middle, where half the time the Democrat does better, and half the time the Republican does better.

Dem 11 Feb 21 Feb 𝚫
Biden +106 +104 -2
Sanders +34 +42 +10
Bloomberg —– +14 —–
Warren -8 -14 -6
Buttigieg -52 -54 -2

With this view, you can see Biden also dropped a little bit, even though his odds of winning didn't change within the rounding limit.

That's it for the probabilistic model.

For those of you who prefer the older and simpler categorization model, where we just look at what would happen if each candidate won every state where they lead the averages, here you go:

Dem 11 Feb 21 Feb 𝚫
Biden +178 +198 +20
Sanders +26 +66 +40
Bloomberg —– +52 —–
Warren -20 -20 Flat
Buttigieg -84 -84 Flat

Interestingly, in this view Biden actually improves a bit. How can he improve here while getting worse or staying flat in the last two views?

Well, without digging up all the specific state by state details, it boils down to flipping from just barely losing to just barely winning in one state (Wisconsin) while getting a bit worse in a few other close states without the state actually crossing the centerline. In the probabilistic view, the declines in the other states slightly outweigh the change in Wisconsin. But in the categorization view, the change in Wisconsin is the only change that matters at all.

Finally, the tipping point, which is in the margin in the state that would put the winner over the top (if the results all matched the polling averages and you sorted the states by the margins). Basically, this shows you how much polling would have to shift across the board in all states to change the winner.

Dem 11 Feb 21 Feb 𝚫
Biden +3.0% +2.8% -0.2%
Bloomberg —– +0.7% —–
Sanders +0.1% +0.5% +0.4%
Warren -0.5% -0.5% Flat
Buttigieg -2.2% -2.9% -0.7%

In terms of the tipping point, Bloomberg actually does slightly better than Sanders. Otherwise, this looks similar to the patterns seen elsewhere. One way to interpret this result is that while Sanders is in a stronger position than Bloomberg in the current polling, that position is a bit more tenuous, and could change more easily.

But bottom line, ALL of these tipping points show a very volatile race. In 2016 the tipping point showed it could swing 5% in just weeks as a reaction to campaign events in the news. None of these candidates are further than 2.9% from the centerline. So with the right stories in the news, they could go from winning to losing or vice versa very quickly.

And that is where we are a day before Nevada.

256.3 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.

New Hampshire Eve

Yes, we had Iowa, but on the general election side of things, since the last update on February 3rd, we have had new polls for Tennessee, North Dakota, South Carolina, New Hampshire (x2), and Kansas.

With the exception of New Hampshire, these are solidly red states and so didn't really do anything to change the national picture. But things did jiggle just a little bit with the two New Hampshire polls, so we'll review the changes on all the major candidate pairs.

But first, for the first time in one of these updates, we actually have delegate leaders in both parties. This may well change as soon as we get results from New Hampshire, but for the moment, the delegate leaders are Buttigieg and Trump.

So before we look at comparisons of the various Democrats vs. Trump, let's look specifically at Buttigieg vs. Trump.


Looking at the Election Graphs probabilistic model, from September through the end of 2019, Buttigieg's position just kept getting worse. It seems to have leveled off a bit so far in 2020, so maybe Buttigieg is hitting a bottom. But currently, things don't look good for him, with the median case in our simulations being a 52 electoral vote defeat by Trump and only an 11.4% chance of an actual victory.

The categorization view, where every state just goes to whoever leads the average, regardless of how close it is, looks even worse. Buttigieg loses by 84 electoral votes.

If the election was today, things would look very grim for Buttigieg. However, looking at the center part of the spectrum of states, you can see that to flip this back to a Buttigieg lead, you need to pull Nevada, Michigan, Ohio, and Flordia back across the line without losing any currently blue states. (There are other combinations of states that would do it too, but this would be the "easiest" group.)

This may seem like a lot, and that 11.4% chance of victory may seem small. But remember, that is "if the election was held today". It does not account for potential future movement.

Of the four states mentioned, Buttigieg is doing worst in Florida. But he is only losing Florida by 2.2% in the polling average. So an across the board margin gain of 2.2% would put him in the lead again. In 2016, this metric (the tipping point) moved more than 5% in a month on several different occasions.

So while the current state of play for Buttigieg does not look great, this far out from the election, for that matter even a month out from the election, a lot can still happen to change a picture like this.

But for the moment, at this very instant, a Buttigieg vs. Trump general election looks like a pretty easy Trump win. If Buttigieg became the nominee, he would have some work to do in order to change his odds.

OK, now let's look at our top four candidate combinations on our national metrics:

Dem 3 Feb 11 Feb 𝚫
Biden +178 +178 Flat
Sanders +26 +26 Flat
Warren -12 -20 -8
Buttigieg -84 -84 Flat

In the "expected case" where everybody wins exactly the states where they lead the average, only Warren loses over these last 8 days, as New Hampshire slips from "Weak Warren" to "Weak Trump".

The tipping point doesn't move at all for any of these four between 3 Feb and 11 Feb, so we'll skip that one and move on to the probabilistic model.

Dem 3 Feb 11 Feb 𝚫
Biden +108 +106 -2
Sanders +36 +34 -2
Warren -6 -8 -2
Buttigieg -52 -52 Flat

In the median Monte Carlo simulation of our probabilistic model, every Democrat except Buttigieg slips by two electoral votes. Slipping a bit, but not a lot. Certainly less change than we've seen in previous updates.

Dem 3 Feb 11 Feb 𝚫
Biden 98.5% 98.4% -0.1%
Sanders 75.3% 74.2% -1.1%
Warren 43.9% 42.5% -1.4%
Buttigieg 11.4% 11.4% Flat

Finally, in terms of chances of winning the electoral college, Buttigieg is flat, but the others all continue to fade a bit.

The Democratic weakening we have been seeing since September may be slowing, but it has not stopped.

And that is where we are on the eve of NewHampshire. As I write this, Dixville Notch, Hart's Landing, and Millsfield have already posted their results. In less than 17 hours, we'll start getting results from the rest of the state. The Democratic nomination race is in full swing.

266.6 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.

Iowa! (Finally)

I'm sure anyone reading blog posts on Election Graphs already knows about all the drama about getting results from the Iowa caucuses. So suffice it to say that they had some issues.

The 2020 Delegate Race page has been updating whenever new results have become available over the last few days. For the most part, we use the excellent delegate breakdowns at The Green Papers as our definitive source for this information. You can find their current detailed status of the Democratic results in Iowa here. Note that they present a more conservative estimate at the top of the page, but a more aggressive estimate (using more provisional data) at the bottom of the page. Election Graphs uses the second estimate.

The delegate estimates here represent the best estimates for national delegates at the point the Iowa Democrats reported 100% of the vote counted. These may change slightly if there are corrections or recanvasses based on some of the irregularities that were found. And they almost certainly will be adjusted months down the line when national delegates are actually selected at the Iowa Democratic Convention in June.

With that in mind, let's jump right in and explain the central chart that Election Graphs uses to examine the delegate race. It isn't a straight forward chart of the number of delegates each candidate has accumulated either at the present moment or over time. You can find that kind of chart, and others, on the 2020 Delegate Race page. But the most important chart to watch is actually this one:

Rather than the date on the horizontal axis, we show the percent of available delegates that have been allocated so far. In the case of the Democrats this year, this is only the PLEDGED delegates (no superdelegates) since superdelegates will not be able to vote in the first round at the convention unless it is mathematically impossible for them to change the winner.

Using % allocated rather than date gives us a better idea of how far along we are in the race, given that primary and caucus dates are scattered across the calendar irregularly, and the number of delegates available on different dates varies wildly based on which and how many states are handing out delegates that day.

Even more critically though, the vertical axis is not simply a count of delegates. We do have that graph too. But the headline graph shows something that gives a much better idea of how the race is going.

Namely: The percentage of the remaining delegates each candidate would have to win in order to have a majority of the delegates (and therefore clinch the nomination).

If you support a particular candidate, you want this number to go DOWN. When it reaches 0%, a candidate has clinched the nomination. If it goes above 100%, on the other hand, then a candidate has been mathematically eliminated. (Absent pledged delegates being released from their pledges and voting a different way than they were "supposed" to.)

In practice, a candidate can be in a position where they have not yet been mathematically eliminated, but it becomes harder and harder to envision a scenario where they would win. For instance, if a candidate would need 60% of the remaining vote to win, but their percentage of the vote so far is only 40%, unless you know that they are really heavily favored in the remaining states, their chances are actually very slim.

Candidates who are on a pace to win will see their lines moving down.

Candidates who are not on a winning pace will see their lines moving up.

So, what do we see so far after the preliminary results from Iowa?

Well, everybody is moving up. This is quite simply because nobody got over 50% of the available delegates in this first round, which is where you start when nobody has any delegates yet. To move your line down, you need to collect delegates faster than your current "% of remaining needed". If you don't, your line keeps going up, as it becomes harder and harder to catch up.

This is just like how if you are behind in a race, to win you have to not just go faster than the car that is in the lead, you have to go enough faster to catch up with them before the finish line.

As of this writing, the best estimate of the delegate breakdown is:

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

This seems like an absolutely huge difference between the top and bottom of this list until you realize that only 41 delegates out of 3979 have been allocated so far. That is only 1.03%.

So the "% of remaining delegates needed" varies from 50.18% for Buttigieg, to 50.51% for Klobuchar. (It would be 50.53% for any candidates who still have zero delegates.) These numbers are still very very close to each other.

The news has been filled with pronouncements of the possibility of Biden being doomed by this result or hyperventilation about the momentum for Buttigieg or Sanders. If such a small percentage of the delegates have been allocated so far, and everybody is still pretty close to each other, why is this?

Well… How candidates do in Iowa impacts their perception in New Hampshire. And New Hampshire impacts their perception in Nevada. Which impacts South Carolina. Which impacts Super Tuesday. And perhaps even more importantly, their performance in each state impacts fundraising and media coverage.

In these early stages, the "narrative" dominates. It does matter. A lot.

But in the end, it is all about the delegates. And so far, there is still not all that much difference between the candidates. Anything can still happen.

In terms of the graph above, look for when one of the curves starts heading down instead of up. That's when someone is really getting some momentum. It means that in every new contest, they don't even have to do as well as they have before in order to win. They can just keep chugging along how they have been, and they will end up winning.

For now, though, things can still get crazy.

Finally, before wrapping up, there was another surprise in Iowa besides Biden doing badly and Buttigieg doing well. The surprise was on the Republican side, where Iowa was actually the third state to allocate delegates (after Hawaii and Kansas).

In the Republican Iowa Caucuses, Bill Weld got 1.29% of the vote. Which was enough to get him one delegate out of the 40 available. So we have a race on the Republican side too!

Yeah, OK. Not really. But hey. Weld got a delegate.

157.4 days until the Democratic National Convention.

199.4 days until the Republican National Convention.

It is going to be a fun ride…

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 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 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.

On the Eve of Iowa

Since the last blog post on January 20th, there have been new polls in Florida, California, Iowa, New Hampshire, Delaware, Alabama, Texas (x3), Missouri, and Utah.

As I write this we are less than 24 hours away from the Iowa caucuses, so we'll move the usual "how things have changed since the last update" summaries to the end of the post, and instead, we will look at how each of the best-polled Democrats is doing against Trump as of the day before the Iowa caucuses.

There are many factors that go into voter decisions on who to vote for in primary and caucuses. But this cycle, time and time again, "who can beat Trump" comes up as a critical part of what Democratic voters are considering.

Election Graphs obviously looks at this question in a variety of ways. Our snapshots are "if the election was held today" though. We don't try to prognosticate how things will change in the months between now and November. We recognize things will indeed change. And we've seen very convincing arguments that a big part of the differences we see between how different Democrats do vs. Trump is due directly to name recognition and that if the lesser-known candidates actually won the nomination, they would, therefore, do better than current polling indicates.

None the less, the best view we can get right now is by looking at the current state by state polling. So we will do that. Just keep in mind the limits of that approach.

So here we go. One by one.

Biden vs. Trump

Let's begin the look at Biden's polling by comparing it to the 2016 election results.

If Biden won every state where he leads in the Election Graphs poll average (even by a little bit), then compared to Clinton in 2016, he picks up Florida (29 EV), Pennsylvania (20 EV), Ohio (18 EV), Georgia (16 EV), Michigan (16 EV), North Carolina (15 EV), Arizona (11 EV), and Maine-CD2 (1 EV) while not losing any states that Clinton won.

Clinton's final earned result was a 74 electoral vote loss (it was a 77 electoral vote loss after the faithless electors did their thing). If Biden were indeed to win every state he leads right now, he would have a 178 electoral vote victory.

Now, it is unlikely that Biden would actually win EVERY state where he leads in the poll average, even if the election was indeed today. Many of the states listed above show Biden just barely ahead. So if you look at the probabilistic model, which takes into account the chances of all the close states flipping one way or another, you end up with a median case of only a 108 electoral vote victory for Biden. This is much less than the 178 you get with the more naive view, but still pretty substantial.

In terms of odds of winning based on the past accuracy of Election Graphs averages going into election night, Biden is at a 98.5% chance of winning the electoral college.

Keep in mind though, on this exact date four years ago, Election Graphs showed Clinton with an 80 electoral vote lead if she won all the states where she was ahead in the polls. Later in the year that rose to 188 electoral votes, then it collapsed to only an 8 electoral vote lead on election eve, followed by her 74 (or 77 counting faithless electors) electoral vote loss in reality. So again, never forget that things can and do change, sometimes very rapidly. Most of Clinton's collapse happened in the last few weeks before the election.

Sanders vs. Trump

Compared to Biden vs. Trump, Sanders loses Florida (29 EV), Pennsylvania (20 EV), Georgia (16 EV), and Arizona (11  EV).

Now, all of those states are still close. But they flip to the other side of the line, and Sanders doesn't pull anything in the other direction to compensate.

This leaves Sanders only ahead by 26 electoral votes when you just count up the states in which he is ahead.

Unlike Biden, the probabilistic model helps Sanders. In the Biden case, there were several big "just barely blue" states. With Sanders, there are several big "just barely red" states. So the median in the probabilistic model is actually a 36 electoral vote win.

The odds of a Sanders win come in at 75.3%.

So Sanders would still be a favorite to win over Trump but is significantly weaker against him than Biden.

Warren vs. Trump

This time starting with Sanders vs. Biden, in comparison Warren loses Ohio (18 EV), North Carolina (15 EV), and Nevada (6 EV), but gains back Pennsylvania (20 EV) in exchange. That is a net loss of 19 electoral votes compared to Sanders.

But that 19 electoral vote change puts Warren on the other side of the win line. If both Trump and Warren won exactly the states where they lead the Election Graphs averages, you end up with a 12 electoral vote Trump win.

The probabilistic model helps Warren a little bit, but not enough. When you take into account how the close states might behave, you end up with the median case being only a 6 electoral vote win for Trump.

With things this close, and a slight Trump lead, we're currently showing Warren with a 43.9% chance of winning the electoral college.

This combination is so close that we're currently showing a 2.1% chance of an actual 269-269 tie for Warren vs. Trump, a scenario that would throw the election into the House of Representatives.

43.9% is not zero. Warren could win. But she would be an underdog. You'd be better off with a coin flip at the moment.

Buttigieg vs. Trump

This time starting with Warren vs. Trump, Buttigieg loses Pennsylvania (20 EV) again, as well as Michigan (16 EV). Adding all this up, you have Buttigieg losing to Trump by 84 electoral votes.

The probabilistic model helps slightly, with the median case being only a 52 electoral vote loss. But the odds of winning outright are a dismal 11.4%.

It would not be impossible for Buttigieg to win with these odds, but it would be a bigger upset than Trump's win in 2016 when the median of the odds given by sites that gave odds was a 14% chance of a Trump victory.

Now, as mentioned up top, there is a lot of evidence that even at this late date, part of why someone like Buttigieg is doing so badly is simply that a lot of people still don't know who he is. And presumably, that would change if he was nominated.

But counting on that seems like a big gamble.

How about Bloomberg, Yang, Klobuchar, and the rest?

Yes, Election Graphs does have data for these folks. And more. You can go to the main 2020 Electoral College page and select any of these Democrats and see the data. You can even see combinations with non-Trump Republicans. If there has been a state-level poll including a candidate, they are listed.

But frankly, of the currently active candidates, the four big ones (Biden, Sanders, Warren, and Buttigieg) are the only ones that have enough state-level data to say anything meaningful. Harris was there too. But she dropped out. O'Rourke had a bit less, but still, maybe you could say something. He's out too.

But these others just plain still don't have enough state-level polling. Even though it has been quite some time since Harris and O'Rourke dropped out, we still have better data about them than any of these others.

Of the rest of the active Democrats, Klobuchar vs. Trump has the next best volume of polling, followed by Bloomberg vs. Trump. Look if you want to. The links are right there. But take anything with you see with a huge grain of salt. There has been so little polling, in so few states, that you will not be looking at a reliable picture of anything.

Presumably, if any of these candidates start to look like serious contenders, we'll get a bunch of new polling including them, and that will change. But as of now, state-level polling on these combinations just doesn't have the volume to be meaningful.

The Choice for Democrats

There are many many reasons Democrats may have for picking one candidate over another in the primary process. Policy preferences and character being two of the biggest.

But for those whose biggest deciding factor is simply who is best positioned to beat Trump, the numbers above are pretty clear cut. It is Biden. By a wide margin.

Sanders is next, but it is a bit more of a gamble. Then Warren is slightly worse than a coin toss. Finally, Buttigieg is just a long shot, much more likely to lose than to win.

Now, again, this is all based on current state-level polling. Things will change.

Perhaps if Buttigieg runs the gauntlet and somehow ends up the Democratic nominee this will be accompanied by a huge rise in the polls against Trump. Maybe the Democrats would rally with excitement around a Warren nominee and you would see that big improvement against Trump there too. Maybe something else will happen that will cause Trump to plummet in the polls against all the Democrats.

Or in the other direction, perhaps Biden will completely collapse, and his advantage against Trump will disappear.

Any of the above could happen.

There is a strain of thought that says that because of this kind of uncertainty, the ultimate comparative electability of these candidates against Trump is fundamentally unknowable, and therefore this kind of examination should be ignored.

It is true that head-to-head state-level polls, or corresponding national level polls for that matter, can only tell you where things stand NOW. They are not a crystal ball into the future. But there is still a substantial amount of data there.

It probably isn't wise for anybody to make their primary choices ONLY on this kind of information. It must be balanced against the other factors that lead people to like or dislike particular candidates.

But based on where things are now, there are clear differences in how these four candidates fare against Trump, and it seems to me that it would be folly to ignore that information.

Since the Last Update

OK, that's it for the snapshot in time examination of the Democrats on the verge of the Iowa Caucuses. Now time for the standard look at how things have evolved since my last Election Graphs blog post.

Dem 19 Jan 3 Feb 𝚫
Biden +178 +178 Flat
Sanders +26 +26 Flat
Warren -12 -12 Flat
Buttigieg -84 -84 Flat

So, in the straight-up, what happens if everybody wins all the states they lead, there were no changes this time around.

Dem 19 Jan 3 Feb 𝚫
Biden +3.0% +3.0% Flat
Sanders +0.1% +0.1% Flat
Warren -0.5% -0.5% Flat
Buttigieg -1.6% -2.2% -0.6%

In the tipping-point view, only Buttigieg declined.

Looking at the numbers above, keep in mind that in 2016 the tipping point moved more than 5% in mere weeks on more than one occasion. Things can be very volatile once we get into the final stages of the campaign. A movement of just a couple of percent in the tipping points above would lead to a completely and totally different picture of the race.

Frankly, in the end, ALL of these tipping points show a close race.

With the categorization view, things have looked more static, and we see changes less frequently, because states have to jump categories or move past the existing tipping point to make a change.

So let's move to the probabilistic view, which is much more sensitive to individual poll changes, regardless of any category changes which may or may not happen.

Dem 19 Jan 3 Feb 𝚫
Biden +126 +108 -18
Sanders +48 +36 -12
Warren +4 -6 -10
Buttigieg -50 -52 -2

All four Democrats worsened their positions against Trump in the median case for the Election Graphs probabilistic model. Biden drops the most, while Warren flips to the loss side of the centerline.

Dem 19 Jan 3 Feb 𝚫
Biden 99.2% 98.5% -0.7%
Sanders 79.9% 75.3% -4.6%
Warren 52.4% 43.9% -8.5%
Buttigieg 14.2% 11.4% -2.8%

Finally, the win odds.

Once again, all four Democrats slipped in these last 15 days.

This continues the movement away from the Democrats and toward Trump that started in the fall. Judging from the graphs, there are some signs that the movement is slowing. But it does not appear to have stopped yet.

The Democrats are still bleeding.

Perhaps the start of the delegate battle with the Iowa Caucuses will be a turning point. Or not. We shall see.

In the meantime, the 2020 Delegate Race page is itching to get some real data. As soon as results start coming out of Iowa, that page will start being updated with the delegate totals as they develop, along with calculations on what that means for the remainder of the race. And of course, there will be blog posts here after each major primary or caucus with an analysis of what it all means.

Buckle up, here we go.

274.6 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.

Mixed Results

Since the last blog post on January 6th, there have been new state-level polls in New Mexico, Iowa, Arizona, Michigan (x2), Georgia, Nevada, Wisconsin (x2), Connecticut, Florida, and West Virginia.

These polls have, in general, shown mixed results. Some move toward Trump, some step toward the Democrats. For some, it depends which Democrat you are watching.

Add everything in from all the states, and you end up with a pretty neutral update on the probabilistic view, with no massive moves, and the changes we do have going in different directions.

Let's look first at the median margins in the Monte Carlo simulations:

Dem 6 Jan 19 Jan 𝚫
Biden +132 +126 -6
Sanders +46 +48 +2
Warren +2 +4 +2
Buttigieg -48 -50 -2

Two Democrats improve against Trump, two diminish. But none of these move very much from where they were.

It is worth noting that between the last update and this one, Warren vs. Trump did briefly flip to the median being a six electoral vote Trump win. But then that reversed and ended up with Warren being slightly better off than she was.

When you look at the four curves, it seems POSSIBLE that we have hit an inflection point. After several months of the curves moving towards Trump, have we now changed direction?

I would urge caution on that interpretation. It is premature. Notice that there was a similar "bump" back toward the Democrats in November. But it was short-lived, and the longer-term trend continued.

So, on the whole, no big moves this update.

Now in terms of win odds:

Dem 6 Jan 19 Jan 𝚫
Biden 99.5% 99.2% -0.3%
Sanders 78.0% 79.9% +1.9%
Warren 50.8% 52.4% +1.6%
Buttigieg 14.4% 14.2% -0.2%

Between these updates, Biden had briefly dropped below 99%. But he rebounded up to 99.2%. Not quite the 99.9%+ he had back in September, but still very strong.

Sanders and Warren both improve a little bit here, with Sanders continuing to be weaker than Biden, but much stronger than Warren, who is barely better than a coin toss.

And Buttigieg, well, at the moment he continues to look like cannon fodder for Trump if that was the matchup.

Looking at the older categorization view, in terms of straight-up changes to the categories I put states in, four changes were good for the Democrats, and three changes were good for Trump.

Moves toward the Democrats:

  • Sanders: New Mexico moved from Strong Sanders to Solid Sanders
  • Warren: Iowa moved from Strong Trump to Weak Trump
  • Warren: Michigan moved from Weak Trump to Weak Warren
  • Buttigieg: Arizona moved from Strong Trump to Weak Trump

Moves toward Trump:

  • Sanders: Georgia moved from Weak Sanders to Weak Trump
  • Biden: Michigan moved from Strong Biden to Weak Biden
  • Buttigieg: Iowa moved from Weak Buttigieg to Weak Trump

With the categorization view, we're simplifying and only say how the electoral college would look if every candidate won every state where they lead the average, rather than noting how often close states could flip to the underdog. But with that view, things look like this:

Dem 6 Jan 19 Jan 𝚫
Biden +178 +178 Flat
Sanders +58 +26 -32
Warren -44 -12 +30
Buttigieg -60 -84 -24

The changes here are more significant than in the probabilistic view because when a state goes from just barely one side, to just slightly on the other, it makes a huge and immediate difference.

Here only Warren actually improves from where we were at the last update, but she still loses to Trump.

Then the tipping points:

Dem 6 Jan 19 Jan 𝚫
Biden +4.3% +3.0% -1.3%
Sanders +1.0% +0.1% -0.9%
Warren -0.5% -0.5% Flat
Buttigieg -1.8% -1.6% +0.2%

On this view, only Buttigieg improves, and just barely. Because while another state flipped to Trump, the margin in the state needed to flip the balance back to him is less than it was before.

Each of these views shows a different way of looking at the race. If I had to pick one at the moment, I'd choose the probabilistic win odds, because it best incorporates all of the various factors at play. But all of them still show something worth tracking.

Now, a quick review of trends in each of the swing states with updates this time around. (I'll skip the states that are not really in contention.)

There is no real clear direction to the movement in Florida. The last updates have been good for the Dems, but all four of these candidates are neck and neck with Trump in Florida. Florida can't get enough of being a state living right on the knife's edge.

Georgia has been very sparsely polled.

The first few polls showed it moving much further in the Democratic direction than the historical average. The latest results inch back toward the red. But Georgia is a state to keep a careful eye on. At the moment, it is clearly in contention.

The historical average in Michigan has been pretty blue, but the most recent polls have shown that 2016 (a narrow 0.2% Republican win) may not have been an aberration. All four of these candidates are showing close races at the moment, with Buttigieg losing to Trump, and the other Democrats holding on to narrow leads.

The trends since the summer have been toward the Republicans, but the most recent polls have gone the other way, so the next releases will be critical to watch, as we will see if the state starts moving back to the blue, or stays in swing-state territory.

Arizona is almost the opposite of Michigan. A historically red state, where the early polls pulled things into the disputed zone, but some of the more recent results have started to move the averages back, at least for Sanders and Biden. This is another state to watch very carefully.

Wisconsin started out with a historical average of Weak Democrat. 2020 polls have shifted this to Weak Trump for all four of these Democrats. The most recent polls make it look like this movement may have plateaued, but it is too early to tell.

Iowa's historical average was Weak Democrat, now it looks like Weak Trump, but it is still close enough to be in contention.

And Nevada. Warren and Buttigieg are just barely losing to Trump. Sanders and Biden are winning by a bit larger margin, but still close.

That's it for the state by state updates this time.

Finally, I have one more thing to highlight before closing.

As I write this, there are just over two weeks until the Iowa caucuses, which are traditionally the start of the delegate race for both parties. I was planning on opening up the 2020 Delegate Race part of Election Graphs with the Iowa caucuses. But surprise surprise, as I was cleaning things up there and getting it ready for launch, I discovered that some delegates are already in motion.

No, it isn't superdelegates on the Democratic side. Due to rule changes this time around, they can't vote on the first ballot unless they mathematically can't make any difference to the outcome, so we aren't tracking them this time.

It is on the Republican side.

It turns out that on December 11th, the Hawaii Republican Party voted on delegate selection rules that just went ahead and bound their 19 delegates to Trump, bypassing any possible primaries or caucuses.

Other states have said they will do this, but Hawaii is the first state to make it official.

So Trump already has 19 of the 1277 delegates he needs to win the Republican convention.

Now, nobody expects any of the Republicans who are running against Trump to get much of anywhere. It currently seems unlikely they will even get any delegates at all.

So the graphs on the Republican side are likely to be very dull, and I probably usually won't even bother to show or mention them in these blog updates. But since this is the very first delegate update, here you go:

So out of 2552 Republican delegates, 19 have already been allocated. That is 0.74% of the delegates. Given that all 19 went to Trump, that means Trump needs 49.66% of the remaining delegates to clinch the nomination.

The next expected delegate allocation is actually also before Iowa. The Kansas Republicans will decide how to allocate their delegates at their convention which runs from January 31st to February 1st. I'm sure their choice will be a huge surprise to everyone.

And with that, the 2020 Delegate Race page is open for business!

288.8 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.

More Weakening for Democrats

Since the last blog post on December 22nd, there have been two new state-level polls released: one Mason-Dixon poll in Florida and one Mason-Dixon poll in Virginia. Each of these pitted Sanders, Biden, Warren, and Buttigieg against Trump.

From the categorization view, we had the following changes:

Warren vs Trump:

  • State category change: FL has moved from Weak Warren to Weak Trump
  • State category change: VA has moved from Strong Warren to Weak Warren
  • Expected case change: Warren 276 to Trump 262 -> Warren 247 to Trump 291
  • Trump best case vs. Warren has changed: Warren 213 to Trump 325 -> Warren 200 to Trump 338
  • Tipping point change: Warren by 0.6% in FL -> Trump by 0.5% in NC

With this, the "envelope" for Warren vs Trump looks like this:

This shows the full swing between all the states with margins under 5% going one way, and all of them going the other way. With Florida flipping back to a 2.0% Trump lead, Warren once again loses the Electoral College if every state is won by the current poll average leader.

The tipping point moves similarly:

Both of these views show Warren struggling over the past few months to stay ahead of Trump.

When we determine who is winning the Electoral College simply by seeing who leads the poll averages in each state, Warren has sometimes been ahead but has also been behind. The tipping point has been less than 1% for almost a year… since we started getting polls really… so one way or another, Warren vs Trump looks like a close race.

Buttigieg vs Trump:

  • State category change: VA has moved from Weak Trump to Weak Buttigieg
  • Expected case change: Buttigieg 226 to Trump 312 -> Buttigieg 239 to Trump 299
  • Tipping point change: Trump by 1.3% in MI -> Trump by 1.8% in FL

There has been much less polling on Buttigieg vs Trump. This last polling actually moves Virginia in Buttigieg's direction, but that is only because this is the very first Buttigieg poll in Virginia, so it bumps the 8.0% Republican win in 2000 out of the average. The newest poll still had Trump ahead by 2.0%, but because it was less of lead than Bush's win in 2000, it moved the average toward Buttigieg,

But the Florida poll moved the average in that state the other way and the tipping point moves further toward Trump.

None of the categorization based metrics changed for the other candidates, but let's look where things stand right now with everybody before we move on to the probabilistic view.

Dem 22 Dec 6 Jan 𝚫
Biden +178 +178 Flat
Sanders +58 +58 Flat
Warren +14 -44 -58
Buttigieg -86 -60 +26

So in the Expected Case, Biden still way ahead, Sanders ahead but not by as much, and we now have both Warren and Buttigieg losing.

Dem 22 Dec 6 Jan 𝚫
Biden +4.3% +4.3% Flat
Sanders +1.0% +1.0% Flat
Warren +0.6% -0.5% -1.1%
Buttigieg -1.3% -1.8% -0.5%

In the tipping point view, you can see a bit more clearly how much better Biden is doing than the rest.

However, to be clear, this is still not a secure lead. One month before the 2016 election, Clinton had a 6.0% tipping point lead. Over the course of the last month, this kept slipping, and the actual tipping point in the final election results was Trump by 0.8%. So with the right set of events, the tipping point can move 7% in a month.

We have a long way to go.

Having said that, the categorization view does simplify things. While the poll averages for Biden and Sanders did not change categories, they did move. So let's look at the state averages, and then the probabilistic views:

Biden is now the only Democrat who still has a lead in the Florida poll average. But the bottom line is that whatever Democrat you look at, Florida is close. The range for the four Democrats still in the race goes from a 1.4% lead for Biden to a 2.0% deficit for Warren. Florida is simply too close to call no matter how you slice it.

Once again, in Virginia Biden is doing much better than the other Democrats against Trump. In Virginia Biden is ahead by 9.6%. The other three Democrats who are still in the race all lead, but none by more than 4%.

OK, now for the results of the national probabilistic simulations:

Dem 22 Dec 6 Jan 𝚫
Biden +126 +132 +6
Sanders +54 +46 -8
Warren +22 +2 -20
Buttigieg -44 -48 -4

The median case only improves for Biden. For every other Democrat, the situation deteriorates, with Warren taking the biggest hit.

One thing to point out is that while Warren loses by 44 electoral votes in the categorization view, looking at the probabilistic simulation, the median case has Warren eking out a 2 electoral vote win.

Why the difference? Because Warren's spectrum of states looks like this:

If everybody wins the states they lead, Warren loses by 44. So she needs to flip 22 electoral votes for a 269-269 tie, and any more than that gets her a win.

There are 121 electoral votes worth of states where Trump leads by 3% or less. Meanwhile, there are only 24 electoral votes worth of states where Warren leads by less than 3%.

To pull off a win, Warren needs to hold Pennsylvania and New Hampshire, but then out of the eight states where Trump has a narrow lead, she only has to get lucky in Florida, or any number of combinations of two states, in order to pull things back over to her side. Given how many states are very close, and how few are close on the other side, it is actually still pretty likely that one of those things would happen.

So how likely?

Dem 22 Dec 6 Jan 𝚫
Biden 99.4% 99.5% +0.1%
Sanders 82.6% 78.0% -4.6%
Warren 66.1% 50.8% -15.3%
Buttigieg 16.5% 14.4% -2.1%

Warren's odds of winning with that distribution of states is 50.8%. Warren vs. Trump is sitting about as close to a coin toss as we could expect to see.

The odds of a 269-269 tie are also at 1.7%, which is higher than for any of the other three active Democrats here.

Looking at the others, Biden remains at 99%+ with Sanders a bit behind that around 80%, and Buttigieg very very far behind, with only about a 14% chance of pulling out a win.

Of course, that is about the same odds folks gave Trump in 2016.

So that is where we are.

302.1 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.