FiveThirtyEight: Biden has a 71 percent chance of winning the White House

A new election model released by FiveThirtyEight gives presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden a 71 percent chance of winning the White House, compared to 29 percent for President Trump.

The analysis gives Trump a greater chance at reelection than other current models.

For example, The Economist’s forecast gives Trump only a 10 percent chance of victory at this time.

The FiveThirtyEight model starts off with Biden as a heavy favorite largely because of his lead in the polls.

Biden leads Trump nationally by 8 points in the FiveThirtyEight model, down from 9.6 points one month ago. Biden has clear leads in the polling averages in five of the six core battleground states of Florida (5.2 points), Wisconsin (6.2 points), Michigan (7.4 points), Pennsylvania (6.3 points) and Arizona (3.4 points). 

Biden leads by 1.4 points or less in North Carolina and Ohio. Trump leads by 1.5 points or less in Georgia, Texas and Iowa.

That breakdown provides Biden more room for error and a larger pathway to victory currently, and the polls have been relatively steady for months. 

However, FiveThirtyEight editor in chief Nate Silver noted that a lot could change in the final 83 days before the Nov. 3 election. The conventions and debates still lie ahead, and no one knows what the coronavirus or economy will look like in three months.

“Biden only named his running mate yesterday,” Silver wrote. “And the campaign is being conducted amidst a pandemic the likes of which the United States has not seen in more than 100 years, which is also causing an unprecedented and volatile economy.”

“Nor has it been that uncommon, historically, for polls to shift fairly radically from mid-August until Election Day,” Silver added. “Furthermore, there are some reasons to think the election will tighten, and President Trump is likely to have an advantage in a close election because of the Electoral College.”

Analysts say that Trump could potentially lose the national popular vote by 4 points and still win the Electoral College in November. Biden has an 81 percent chance of winning the popular vote, compared to only a 71 percent chance of winning the Electoral College. However, the FiveThirtyEight model gives Biden a 30 percent chance of winning the popular vote by double digits. 

Biden’s calculated chance of victory is exactly the same as FiveThirtyEight reported Election Day in 2016, when the news source said that Democrat Hillary Clinton had a 71 percent chance of winning.

At the time, the data journalism website was criticized for giving Trump too great a chance of victory. 

The New York Times model gave Clinton a 99 percent chance of victory on Election Day. 

But Trump ran the table in the traditional battleground states, where polling was close, and depressed Democratic turnout in the “blue wall” states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin helped Trump to win narrow victories. Trump ultimately won the Electoral College, despite losing the popular vote by millions of votes.

“The uncertainty in our current 2020 forecast, conversely, stems mostly from the fact that there’s still a long way to go until the election,” Silver wrote. “Take what happens if we lie to our model and tell it that the election is going to be held today. It spits out that Biden has a 93 percent chance of winning. In other words, a Trump victory would require a much bigger polling error than what we saw in 2016.”

Tags Data journalism Donald Trump election 2020 Election prediction FiveThirtyEight Hillary Clinton Joe Biden Nate Silver

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