It is only 14 days until voters in the United States will decide whether to re-elect Donald Trump as president for the next four years or opt for Democratic leadership under former vice-president Joe Biden.
With incumbent presidents often having an advantage over their competitors (only four presidents have lost re-election in the last 100 years), Trump should go into this election as the favourite. However, Trump has suffered low approval ratings throughout his time in office and is plagued with the coronavirus crisis, and controversy over his plans to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg just weeks before voters go to the polls, not to mention his own covid infection impacting his ability to campaign.
On a national level, RealClearPolitics’ latest aggregation of opinion polls gives Biden a lead over President Trump of just under nine percent.
If we compare this to last week’s RCP average, Biden’s national lead in the polls has dipped by around one percent. Despite this, Biden remains not only ahead of where 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton was at this time in the campaign, but even ahead of where Barack Obama was in 2008.
As the last presidential election proved, a lead in the national popular vote does not necessarily result in victory, as the winner of the election is determined by the Electoral College. Each state is allocated a certain number of delegates, with the winner of a state taking that state’s delegates. Once a candidate reaches over 270 delegates in total, they have won the presidency.
To determine who is leading the race state by state, here is a look an average of polling aggregates and forecasts from six different outlets; namely RealClearPolitics, The Economist, FiveThirtyEight, JHK, Plural Vote and Electoral Polls.
In the map above, each state is coloured based on either candidate’s poll lead. The darker blue a state shows stronger support for Biden, darker red means stronger support for Trump and grey means to state is too close to call.
Based on this projection, Biden is likely to win the presidency with an Electoral College count of at least 334, compared to Donald Trump’s 304 in 2016. The former vice-president is expected, based on current polling, to flip the states of Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida, Arizona, North Carolina, as well as Nebraska’s second congressional district. Iowa and Georgia are classed as toss-up.
The state of the race in swing states
Biden leads in almost all but three swing states to varying degrees of support. In some key states, such as Minnesota, New Hampshire, Michigan and Wisconsin, Biden holds a commanding lead. However, his support has dropped by one percent in two other key states – Florida and Pennsylvania. If Biden wants to be sure of victory in a fortnight’s time, he will need to shore up support in these two states.
Although Trump’s campaign is rumoured to be out of money and is pulling planned ad buys, this week’s polling numbers hold some good news. His apparent increase in support in Florida and Pennsylvania keeps a slim chance of victory open to him, should a polling error in some states also work in his favour. Should he regain a lead in those two states, alongside Arizona, Georgia and North Carolina – states that Biden has only a narrow lead in – Trump would win a second term by a slim margin. In this election, whoever wins Pennsylvania will win the presidency.
The Economist forecast
As of October 20th, The Economist’s election model gives Biden a 92 percent chance of winning the presidency and a 99 percent chance of winning the most votes nationwide. Biden’s chance of winning is up one percent, according to the Economist’s model.
This model projects wins for Biden in several crucial swing states, including Wisconsin, Michigan, Arizona, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, with a tossup in Georgia.
*Note – The Economist does not model the individual races in Nebraska’s and Maine’s congressional districts.
As of October 20th, FiveThirtyEight’s model predicts that Biden is ‘favoured’ to win the election, with a 87 percent probability – up one percent on last week.
As of October 20th, JHK gives Joe Biden a 88 percent chance of victory on November 3rd, up one from last week, with flips in Florida, Arizona, Wisconsin, Michigan, North Carolina, Georgia and Pennsylvania. However, it suggests a tossup in Ohio and Iowa.
Plural Vote forecast
As of October 20th, Plural Vote gives the Democrats a 73 percent chance of winning the presidency, down one on last week. Their model predicts close races along the east coast, in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Georgia and Florida.
Electoral Polls forecast
As of October 20th, Electoral Polls gives Biden a 93 percent win probability, up three from last week.
With only two weeks of the election campaign and the three presidential debates still to go, these forecast can still easily shift in either direction before November 3rd, particularly amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, its economic impact and the possibility of a vaccine announcement before election day, alongside the controversy over RBG’s replacement in the Supreme Court and Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis.