For all the Pessimism, Things Look Much Better than in 2016


From my trend tracker.  In terms of the popular, national vote margin, Biden is doing much better than where we were in 2016.

There's a lot of hand-wringing about how it looked like Hillary was running away with the race in 2016, and as it looks like Biden is way ahead now, that's a sure sign that he's going to lose.  Somehow.  

To pick just a single number, consider the popular vote margin.  According to my model (remember, high quality polls only), Biden currently enjoys a lead of 9.4 points over Trump.  At this point in 2016, Hillary was 5.1 points ahead using the same selection criteria. It's even more striking to see how the trendiness look.  Biden has a wider lead now (before any post-convention polls) than Hillary did at any subsequent point in the 2016 cycle.

If you'd like to look at this dynamically, I've written a little app.  It's nothing more than the state of my model (popular vote or win probability, for instance) as a function of time, compared to 2016 run through the same model.  As you can see above, they aren't really comparable.* There's also no real evidence to support the idea that the race is somehow narrowing.  It's not.

For something even more compelling – and even more stable – let's take a look at the number of either undecided or 3rd party voters:

Throughout 2016, roughly 20% of voters were undecided or declared that they were voting Green or Libertarian. This time, that number has hovered between 5-10%.  This is a very big deal, because it also corresponds to Biden sitting at 50+% in terms of committed voters.  Even if late-deciding voters swing toward Trump (unlikely, since undecideds historical break away from the incumbent), Trump would actually have to convince some Biden voters to switch allegiance or just stay home (or rather, fail to vote by mail.)

It isn't over until it's over, but I just can't buy into the cynicism of those who think that Trump has a remotely decent chance of winning*.

*The standard caveat applies, which is that, by using the power of the presidency, Trump is determined to cheat – more than the usual amount of Republican cheating.  We'll remain vigilant, but for the moment, I'm just trying to determine voter intention.