The 2020 Presidential and Senate polling nowcast: Biden’s popular majority is congealing

The 2020 Presidential and Senate polling nowcast: Biden’s popular majority is congealing

Here is my weekly update on the 2020 elections, based on State rather than national polling in the past 30 days, since that directly reflects what is likely to happen in the Electoral College. Remember that polls are really only nowcasts, not forecasts. They are snapshots of the present; there is no guarantee they will be identical or nearly identical in early November.

As I have frequently noted, Trump’s approval has always reverted to the mean, absent a new outrage that is both unusually cruel and simultaneously unusually inept. Since there has been none in the past few weeks, Trump’s margin reverted by 2% for both approval and disapproval. Perhaps more importantly, there has been virtually no movement in the past week, despite the RNC convention:


Here is the updated map through August 22. To refresh, here is how  it works:


– States where the race is closer than 3% are shown as toss-ups.
– States where the range is between 3% to 5% are light colors.
– States where the range is between 5% and 10% are medium colors.
– States where the candidate is leading by 10% plus are dark colors.


There were a bunch of polls out during the week from pollsters rated “C-“ by Nate Silver. Despite that, only Florida changed, downgraded from “likely” to “lean” Biden.

There has been erosion over the past 4 weeks, as demonstrated by the map from the beginning of August:


Note the weakening in Minnesota, Michigan, and North Carolina in particular, and the deeper red of Montana and South Carolina.

Even so, despite heavy polling, Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio, and even Texas remain in the toss-up category.

And I am still surprised that there have been no new polls in months in Nevada in particular.

Nevertheless, based on the current map Biden still just has to win the “solid” and “likely” States, and need not win any of the “lean Biden” States, in order to win the election.

After the August jobs report this Friday, I believe the public’s perception of the economy is going to be congealed; and after Labor Day equally so as to the coronavirus pandemic. After that point, only wild cards such as a dramatic further explosion of social unrest might sway the dynamic. I expect some tightening in the polls based on an improved economy, and based on GOP voters “coming home.”

The Senate map has not changed at all during the past week, despite the spate of “C-“ polls of those races:

Based on this map, if Democrats simply win all those seats rated “solid” and “likely,” they  will have the 50 Senate seats necessary for a technical majority. If they were to win the “toss-ups” and “lean GOP” races as well, they could end up with as many as 55 Senate seats.

Finally, a couple of noteworthy nuggets.

Below are the nightly ratings for both the Democratic and GOP conventions:

Note that while both viewerships were down, the Democratic convention viewership was only down -17.5% from 2016, while the GOP viewership was down -26.1%. Trump is such a known commodity that I doubt anyone other than diehard believers turned in. The differential favors Biden.

Second, here are the Morning Consult polls pre- and post-conventions for 2016 and 2020:


Note that Hillary Clinton, while leading, never crossed 50%. By contrast, Biden has not been *under* 50%. And there is less than half the percentage of undecided voters this year vs. 2016. It is simply going to be a nearly impossible task for Trump to actually win the popular vote. All of his hopes must be on the Electoral College and in voter and vote-counting suppression.