2020 Presidential Election Forecast




Shown above is the Electoral Map with the seven closest states (those with less than 2.5% difference between Trump and Clinton in 2016) shown in gray and tallied as "close."

Biden Goes Anti-Riot
September 9, 2020
Three weeks ago, Joe Biden had a commanding lead in the polls and was keeping his mouth shut, and largely staying out of public view -- the traditional strategy of a frontrunner with a wide margin. However, public sentiment rapidly shifted against the ongoing violence taking place in America's urban areas. ANTIFA rioting in Portland entered its 100th consecutive day, there were high profile killings in Kenosha, Wisconsin and Portland, Oregon, and the overall death toll from BLM and ANTIFA rioting surpassed 30, with injuries in the thousands, hundreds of businesses burned to the ground, and property losses projected to top $2 billion. As riot-fatigue set in, Joe Biden's poll numbers began to plummet, and the RCP betting-odds average fell right along with them. Just as the betting odds fell to coin-toss territory, Biden finally made public statements against the rioting -- and it seems to have helped.

Biden's public statements that he condemns violence across-the-board "no matter who it is" appear, for now, to have stopped his precipitous fall in the polls. The betting odds are now bouncing back in Biden's favor -- sitting at around 53/47 as of today. There remains a large disconnect between state-by-state wagering on PredictIt and the contract for overall-winner, which technically represents an arbitrage opportunity, but one that is very hard to exploit because market participants can't be sure which states are wrong -- but the current contract on the overall winner signals that they know some of the state-by-state contracts surely are. For example, PredictIt participants believe that Biden has a 65% chance of Winning PA and WI (and AZ!), and a 70% chance of winning MI -- but only a a 59% chance of winning the election. If those state contracts are accurate, Joe Biden's chances of winning the election are closer to 85%. Talk about serious 2016 Déjà vu vibes.

Missing Bumps
August 25, 2020
Historically, the opposition party typically sees a bump in the polls after a favorable VP pick, and during the party convention. We're now several days post Democratic National Convention and it's been more than a week since the Kamala Harris pick, but there hasn't been a discernable bump for Biden in the RCP average betting odds. In fact, Trump's numbers have been steadily improving over the past 30 days. So why are the Biden bumps missing?

no convention kamala bump

The explanation kindest to the Biden campaign is that betting markets had already priced in a Kamala Harris pick, and that COVID driving the conventions online leads to lower viewership, less engagement, and less energy. Scott Adams, the Dilbert cartoonist with an uncanny insight into Trump-era politics, called a Kamala Harris pick for the Dem ticket back in December of 2019. On the other side of the aisle, Politico leaked an article naming Harris as the VP pick on July 28, later chalking it up to a website error (complete with graphics and a congratulatory quote from Biden). There didn't seem to be any widespread whisperings of anyone other than Harris getting the nod. It's probably safe to assume that people betting real money on the election had already priced in Harris as the VP pick.

Even with disabled chatrooms and YouTube comments on convention videos, online viewership appears to be much higher than 2016. Television viewership, however, is down as much as 48% compared to the DNC ratings from four years ago. Don't assume that is a bad thing for Joe Biden. He's the frontrunner in the polls and the betting markets, and, if the numbers are to be believed, then it's his race to lose -- and keeping a low profile is a perfectly valid strategy. A lack of a convention-bump for Biden may end up being fairly meaningless if his 14 point lead in the RCP betting average is real.

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