A Deep Dive Into the Numbers

My nephew, who turns 16 this year, is a math wiz, and loves statistical analysis, he has also taken a strong interest in modern politics.

Last week he took on the task to analyze polls and historical data to predict how the electoral college plays out. This is his work…

DC, Vermont, Massachusetts, Hawaii, Maryland, California, New York, Rhode Island, Delaware, Washington, Connecticut, Maine’s 1st District, New Jersey, Oregon, and Illinois are very safe for Biden, with current polling averages by FiveThirtyEight showing him up 15 points or more. These states combined are 183 electoral votes.

On the other hand, Nebraska’s 3rd District, Wyoming, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Idaho, North Dakota, Arkansas, Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Dakota are very safe for Trump, with current polling averages by FiveThirtyEight showing him up 15 points or more. These states combined are 63 electoral votes.

Likely Biden States:

New Mexico and Colorado haven’t always been blue, but these last 3 presidential elections they certainly have. With some positive polling for Biden in these states this election, it seems very unlikely that these states go to Trump.

Virginia is a red state, right? Wrong. Much like New Mexico and Colorado, Virginia has gone blue the last 3 presidential elections. While in 2016 Clinton’s vice president pick Kaine was from Virginia, it is hard to truly know how much of an effect that had. Whatever the case was, Virginia is polling strong for Biden this year.

Maine has voted Democrat for the last 7 presidential elections, and doesn’t seem to be stopping this year, with Biden having an apprixmately 14 point lead over Trump in the polling averages.

New Hampshire seems relatively solidly in Biden’s favor, even with it having been considered a swing state in the past, and being relatively close last year.

Minnesota went to Clinton last election, and this election it doesn’t seem likely that that story will be different. Biden leads Trump by over 9 points in this state, and with Clinton having won this state in 2016, it seems very likely Biden will keep this state.

Michigan and Wisconsin are part of a group of 3 key states that will likely help decide the election, along with Pennsylvania. In this prediction, they will be called the rust belt. Michigan and Wisconsin certainly are the most blue of the rust belt, and were extremely close states (especially Michigan) in the 2016 election, even though they had gone to Trump in the end. This year, Biden has an 8 point lead in these states, which makes it seem likely Biden will win these states.

Likely Trump States:

Nebraska has voted red for many years, and is unlikely to change this year. This state would likely be safe if it weren’t for FiveThirtyEight showing Trump up by only a bit under 10 points.

Tennessee is likely to go to Trump, as Trump has a solid lead of just under 13 points.

In Utah, Trump is ahead by under 11 points. As with many of the other red states in the likely column, this state has been solidly Republican for many elections.

Nebraska’s 1st district does not have a lot of info around it. However, there is one poll listed on FiveThiryEight showing Trump up 2 points. However, last election Republicans won Nebraska’s 1st district by over 20 points. Therefore, this district will be considered likely in this prediction.

Kansas is also a reliable vote for Republicans, having voted for them in the last 13 presidential elections. While it doesn’t seem likely it will flip, it is up only just over 10 points for the Republicans.

Indiana mostly votes red, although they did vote blue in 2008. Granted, Republicans did win Indiana by a bit under 20 points in 2016. Either way, Trump is up nearly 10 points over Biden in Indiana.

Even with the Republicans winning Missouri by almost 20 points in 2016, the polls show it surprisingly close in comparison at an approximately 7 point lead for Trump.

Montana is a surprising case, having the Republicans win by over 20 points in 2016, to leading in the polls by just under 5 points, and it’s been narrowing up recently.

South Carolina, unlike their neighbor to the north (more on that later), is still likely to go red this election, with Trump up around 7.5 points.

Alaska is an interesting case, as this is one of Trump’s best times in the polls over the last few months, with a bit under an 8 point lead. Yes, a nearly 8 point lead is good compared to the rest of Trump’s polls this year in Alaska, the state that went to Trump by over 25 points in 2016.

It is amazing to see many of these likely Republican states not safe. It really goes to show Biden’s power this election. States like Alaska or Nebraska shouldn’t be this close, but they are.

Lean Biden States:

Pennsylvania is the other state in the rust belt. This state is considered by many to be the key state, and is shown to be the most likely tipping point state by FiveThirtyEight. This is good news for Biden, as he is ahead nearly 5 points in Pennsylvania polling.

Nevada was a swing state that went to Clinton last election, and this election seems fairly favorable for Biden, with nearly a 5 point lead over Trump.

Arizona has actually become more blue over the years, with only an approximately 3.5 point victory for Trump in 2016, whereas it was much larger for Republicans in 2012 and 2008. This year, Biden is actually polling ahead of Trump in Arizona, with a lead of nearly 3 points. This state seems like it will go to the Democrats, but it could go either way.

Ah yes, Florida, home of close elections. Trump won it by just over a point in 2016, Obama won it by just under a point in 2012, Obama won it by just under 3 points in 2008, Bush won it by 5 points in 2004, and let’s not discuss the 2000 election. In general, Florida tends to be a close state, and it seems like it will continue that tradition this year. Currently, Biden is leading by around 2 points in the polls in Florida. With Florida’s history, it wouldn’t be surprising to see it go either way, but for the moment it seems to be going to Biden.

North Carolina is another one of those states that have classically tended to be Republican, but now seem to be Democrat. Admittedly, North Carolina did go to Obama in 2008, although barely. This year, Biden has almost a 2 point advantage over Trump according to polling. This still isn’t enough to overcome the polling error from 2016, but this year isn’t 2016.

Georgia has swung back and forth in the polls this election, but currently Biden, surprisingly enough, is ahead over a point in polling data. In the last few elections, Democrats have lost by about 5 or more points in Georgia, so it is impressive to see Biden ahead this year.

Biden seems ahead in Maine’s 2nd district (he has a 3.2 point lead), but due to less polls it’s harder to say for certain. What can be said for certain is that in 2016 Trump won by nearly 10 points, while in 2012 Obama won by over 8 points.

In Nebraska’s 2nd District, it also seems like Biden will win, with a 4.5 point lead.

Lean Trump States:

While Texas has been going more and more blue over the last few years, it seems unlikely that this election is the year that it fully goes blue. Trump has an admittedly low 1 point lead over Biden, but it still seems likely it will go Republican. Given current trends, maybe next presidential election will be the one where we see Texas go blue.

Tilt Trump States:

Ohio’s prediction is honestly tragic. For the last 14 presidential elections, Ohio has voted for the winner of the election. However, this year, it seems to have shifted too far to the right. Currently Trump is ahead 0.8 points in the polls in Ohio, although in general it seems like Biden will win the election, which would break Ohio’s streak. We will see though, as it is a close race in Ohio.

Iowa has been the weirdest state to watch during the making of this prediction. It has been fluctuating back and forth between the 2 candidates for the last month. It has settled to be Biden territory for most of October, but now it has jumped up into being a Trump state. This state is really hard to call either direction, but as Election Day is just around the corner, and Trump has a lead of 1.6 points, it seems it will go to Trump. That being said, early voting was occurring while Biden was in the lead in the polls, so it could swing to Biden. It seems likely this will be the closest state of them all.

And that has been every state! Based on this prediction, here are the predicted results: Biden 351, Trump 187. However, as this prediction does list states based on their likelihood to go to each candidate, included below is what would happen if certain levels of change from the prediction would happen.

To clarify, the wave scenarios outlined below are based on what would happen if various levels of change in the prediction happened, with a blue wave meaning Democrats win tilt Republican states, a blue tsunami meaning Democrats win lean Republican states, and a blue blow-out meaning Democrats win likely Republican states. This also goes for the red waves, but in the favor of the Republicans. This is why the red wave has no change, as there are no tilt Democrat states in this prediction.

Blue Blow-Out: Biden 475, Trump 63


Blue Tsunami: Biden 413, Trump 125


Blue Wave: Biden 375, Trump 163


Standard Prediction: Biden 351, Trump 187


Red Wave: Biden 351, Trump 187


Red Tsunami: Biden 252, Trump 286


Red Blow-Out: Biden 183, Trump 355

Some of the sources:


FiveThirtyEight Forecast: https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/2020-election-forecast/


FiveThirtyEight Polls: https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/polls/president-general/


FiveThirtyEight 2016 Data: https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/2016-election-forecast/


Historical Results:

https://www.270towin.com/historical-presidential-elections/

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/2016_United_States_presidential_election#

(and various other Wikipedia articles)

If you wish to see a map form of this prediction, go to this link:

https://www.yapms.com/app/?m=4frs

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s