Predicting a Biden win, and when we will know.

Growing up, my dad used to say it’s not over until the clock reads “0.0”. For readers who are not into sports, this means that it’s not over until all of the game clock has run off. However, if you’re a football team up 28 points and there is 1 minute left, it’s safe to put that game in the win column. The 2020 election isn’t a sport. The consequences of the election, regardless of outcome, are likely to be dramatic. However, the clock is starting to run out on Trump. If he’s going to win now, it will be “Cleveland sports” level heartbreak for the Biden campaign. 

Based on the numbers, here is what I’m seeing right now. We have 8 states up for grabs and 2 districts in Maine and Nebraska. The states that are still within the margin of error are bolded. 

State (or District)Current Polling Outcome
ArizonaBiden +4.6
FloridaBiden +3.5
Georgia Biden +1 
IowaTrump +3.5
Maine 2nd DistrictBiden +3
Nebraska 2nd District Biden +3
North CarolinaBiden +3.4
OhioTrump +0.5
Pennsylvania Biden +6
TexasTrump +2
Average state poll margin of error is 4.5

If this all holds, this is what our map will most likely look like.

Electoral Map

We’ve had some good quality polling over the past few days that I’m confident in this outcome. However, memories of 2016 arrive and those who want a Trump 2nd term or fear a Trump 2nd term might ask, “What does it look like if Trump flips those Biden states?”. Within the margin of error, still not a win.

Electoral Map

“Well Arizona looks like it might be close, what happens if we give him Arizona?” Still short.

Electoral Map

Trump is going to need big time polling errors in a number of states and those polling errors need to go his way. Example, he needs Florida to go his way but then also keep Texas. 

A couple of notes to keep in mind. 

1. I think it’s reasonable to expect issues from the Trump administration if this is close. Close means that he loses in a few key states by a small enough margin to cause issues. However, it would likely need to be a situation where he wins all of those swing states and then loses Pennsylvania by a small margin, for example. 

2. Mail-in ballots will come in at different times and be counted differently by state. For example, we should expect Trump to have an early lead in PA before the larger sums of mail-in ballots are counted. 

So when will we know? did a great recap of when states close and I would highly recommend reading that. I think it’s fair to say not to expect any “official” results on election night BUT given the narrow path of victory for Trump, I think there are 3 races that could show us early on who will end up winning this thing.

Ohio: This is a bit of a homer pick but I promise there is some reasoning. The polls close at 7:30 eastern in Ohio. Early voting and mailed-in ballots received by election day are counted and reported first. I think it’s fair to expect an early Biden lead, and Trump will crawl back into it. However, as results are reported, if Biden hangs onto his lead or falls behind just a bit by the end of the night, Ohio could go blue and that would all but end things for Trump. 

Florida: Florida is similar to Ohio in the sense that they will report early, and mail-in ballots first. The difference here is Florida does not accept ballots that arrive after election day. The polls close at 8 eastern in Florida. I’d expect to see an early Biden lead and throughout the night we will see if Trump makes it competitive. 

North Carolina: North Carolina also reports early and mail-in ballots first. The polls will close at 7:30 eastern so we can expect an early Biden lead. According to the New York Times, North Carolina is expecting 98% of the votes will be reported that night.

I think we are going to be in for a long night either way. I believe there is a chance Biden is declared the winner on election night but what is far more likely is that most of us go to bed with Biden having a lead and over the next couple of days that will start to solidify and become official. If Trump is going to win, he will need all of those states plus Pennsylvania which might be the last state to officially report. 

In sports, before a big game, there might be weeks of commentary on who might win, what match ups could the other team exploit, etc. Usually right before the game starts, the commentators will say something like “All the analysis, all of the predictions, they don’t matter now. All that’s left is to play the game.” 

At this point, all that’s left, is the election.