How I will be rationalising US election day results

October 31, 2020, 6:29 am

Assuming Biden doesn't beat his polls and win in Texas (pretty much guaranteeing a Trump loss), these are the states I'll be watching on Wednesday (with the current 538 polling average margins in brackets).

  • North Carolina (Biden +2)
  • Arizona (Biden +3)
  • Florida (Biden +2)
  • Georgia (Biden +2)
  • Pennsylvania (Biden +5)

So basically Trump needs all these states to win. For the first four, a pretty minor polling error in Trump's favour gives him a second term. However, he'll also need a historically large (though certainly not unprecedented) polling error in his favour in Pennsylvania to win.

In 2016 Hillary Clinton under-performed her polls (in Pennsylvania) by 1.39% while Trump was over-performing his by 3% (a net polling error of 4.39%). So a 2016 magnitude polling error will make the election pretty close (though not re-count close) but we'll probably still get a president Biden in 2021.

So assuming those first four states are called before Pennsylvania, I'll only start freaking out if we see Trump wins in those states with 2-3% victory margins.

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