US election minus three weeks; NZ election minus two days

Biden’s national lead reaches double digits, and he holds 7+ point leads in states likely to be the “tipping-point”. Meanwhile, NZ Labour retains a large lead.

Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is an honorary associate at the University of Melbourne. His work on electoral matters for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.

With three weeks left until the November 3 election, the FiveThirtyEight national aggregate gives Joe Biden a 10.2% lead over Donald Trump (52.3% to 42.1%). Biden’s lead has increased by 0.6% since last week. In the key states, Biden leads by 7.8% in Wisconsin and Michigan, 7.1% in Pennsylvania, 4.0% in Florida and 3.9% in Arizona.

Pennsylvania is back to being the “tipping-point” state in the Electoral College, after being tied with Wisconsin last week. The good news for Trump is that Pennsylvania is currently 3.1% more favourable for him than nationally. The bad news is that, with Biden up ten nationally, that isn’t going to matter.

For Trump to win, he needs to either reduce Biden’s national lead to under five points, so that the key states become highly competitive, or hope for a polling error much worse than in 2016. In the last two weeks, Biden’s national lead has increased from seven to ten points, and Trump is rapidly running out of time. A Trump recovery would probably involve him focusing on the economy for the last three weeks, and not holding rallies that can be seen as reckless given coronavirus.

Biden also leads by 3.2% in North Carolina, 1.2% in Georgia, 0.6% in Iowa and 0.3% in Ohio. He trails by 1.4% in Texas. As I have said previously, if Biden wins all these states, he wins over 400 of the 538 Electoral Votes.

The FiveThirtyEight forecast gives Trump a 13% chance to win the Electoral College, down from 16% last week. He only has a 5% chance to win the popular vote.

Despite the bad voting intention polls, Trump’s job approval ratings have been relatively stable. In the FiveThirtyEight aggregate, his net approval with all polls is -10.4%, and -10.0% with polls of likely or registered voters. His ratings are down slightly since last week, but there has not been a fall like in July.

Favourable ratings are likely a better explanation for Trump’s decline. The RealClearPolitics average has Biden’s net favourability at +7, the highest it’s been, while Trump’s is -12. In 2016, both Trump and Hillary Clinton were very unpopular. This year, Biden’s big lead is partly explained by his own popularity.

In the FiveThirtyEight Classic Senate forecast, Democrats now have a 76% chance to win control, up 4% since last week. The most likely outcome is a 52-48 Democratic majority, a one-seat gain for Democrats. The 80% confidence range is 48 to 56 Democratic seats; it was 48 to 55 last week.

Early voting

Some states have voter registration by party, though this does not mean that every registered Democrat votes for Biden, or every Republican for Trump. According to Michael McDonald’s Elections Project site, in North Carolina 51% of returned mail ballots have been from Democrats and just 18% Republicans. In Florida, it’s 50% Democrats and 29% Republicans.

These figures appear strong for Biden. However, it’s to be expected according to polls. A Pew Research poll was conducted after the first presidential debate from a sample of over 10,000. It gave Biden an overall 52-42 lead. Among those voting by mail, Biden’s lead was 69-27, and he also led by 55-40 among those voting in-person before election day. However, Trump led by 63-31 among those voting in-person on election day.

There could be big swings on election night depending on the order in which states count early and election day votes. In Florida, for example, the early vote is counted first, and much of it will be reported soon after polls close. Biden would expect to take a big lead on these early returns, but Trump would likely gain on the election day vote.

Colmar Brunton: NZ Labour leads National by 46-31

Two days before Saturday’s New Zealand election, the final Colmar Brunton poll, conducted October 10-14 from a sample of 1,005, gave Labour 46% (down one since last week), National 31% (down one), the Greens 8% (up two), the right-wing ACT 8% (steady) and NZ First 3% (up one). Jacinda Ardern led Judith Collins as better PM by 55-20 (50-23 last week).

If this poll was the election result, Labour would win 59 of the 120 parliamentary seats, two short of a majority. National would win 40, the Greens 11 and ACT 10. The Greens will be happy that their vote has increased to 8%, three points above the 5% threshold for party representation without winning a single-member seat. A Labour/Greens government is the most likely election outcome.

A Morgan NZ poll, conducted in September, gave Labour 47.5%, National 28.5%, the Greens 9.5% and ACT 7%.

28 comments on “US election minus three weeks; NZ election minus two days”

  1. This morning Sportsbet had Biden at $1.40 and Trump at $2.80, ignoring the vigorish, the implied probabilities remain at about 65 and 35 percent respectively.

    On Facebook’s Sportsbet page, most commenters seemed to believe that these are insane odds to take for Trump, with most bettors stating disbelief that Trump is the outsider and that more appropriate odds would be $1.01. Most said that they are jumping at the prospect of virtually no-risk free money. Just sayin’……

  2. I think there’s an error here:

    The most likely outcome is a 52-48 Democratic majority, a one-seat gain for Democrats.

    Dems are currently at 47 seats (including 2 independents). so 52 is a gain of 5 not 1

  3. Trump really outsmarted himself pulling out of the second debate because it wouldn’t be in person for health concerns. Trump really needs all the debates he can get to get traction against Joe Biden. When Trump said he was pulling out, and his campaign put out a statement asserting this was the case. The Biden campaign thrilled that Trump would give up a chance to debate him while 10 points down in the polls- immediately booked their own Townhall event where they would take questions from the public. The Biden campaign had agreed to the debate commission original proposal to make it virtual.

    Trump campaign realising the mistake they had made the next day wanted the debate back on but(still in person). But because Biden had already booked the Townhall meeting on the date the debate was to take place. The debates commission advised it wasn’t going to be able go ahead.

    Trump stunts calling the commission corrupt, and the moderator (from Fox news) biased is really grating. It’s good to see he is now seen for what really he is the boy crying wolf who got burned for it.

  4. Political Nightwatchman
    Thursday, October 15th, 2020 – 6:33 pm

    Trump really outsmarted himself pulling out of the second debate because it wouldn’t be in person for health concerns. Trump really needs all the debates he can get to get traction against Joe Biden.

    You reminded me of a comment I posted a couple of days ago. I wrote wtte that Trump always pulls out of a contest he feels he can’t win. The context for my comment was that Trump didn’t win the first debate and was uncertain about a second. I was also thinking of transactional negotiators, who approach negotiations as a contest with a winner and a loser rather than an effort to find suitable shared outcomes. I wrote (again wtte) that a classic negotiating tactic is to abandon negotiations, or more accurately to pretend to. (You can see it in the Brexit negotiations.) The intent is to unbalance your opponent. And that (both reasons together) is likely why Trump pulled out of the second debate, first so he wouldn’t lose the next debate but mainly to unbalance Biden.

    Unfortunately for Trump the problem with that tactic is there has to be a reason for your opponent to want to continue. If they don’t, you just lost. And Trump miscalculated. Biden doesn’t need to debate Trump any more. He’s leading. The only reason he ever did was that debates were some sort of convention. Trump broke the convention and let Biden off. And now Trump unexpectedly finds himself in the weaker position.

    It doesn’t change much though. If anything it will make Trump come back harder. He knows this election is about him, MAGA Trump. Biden just happens to be the contender. Trump is losing. The next few days will be interesting. We’re about to see if there’s anything left in his tank.

  5. Cameron C. @ #1 Thursday, October 15th, 2020 – 5:53 pm

    This morning Sportsbet had Biden at $1.40 and Trump at $2.80, ignoring the vigorish, the implied probabilities remain at about 65 and 35 percent respectively.

    On Facebook’s Sportsbet page, most commenters seemed to believe that these are insane odds to take for Trump, with most bettors stating disbelief that Trump is the outsider and that more appropriate odds would be $1.01. Most said that they are jumping at the prospect of virtually no-risk free money. Just sayin’……

    You lost me after “On Facebooks Sportsbet page…”
    Trump isnt giving up because he feels he can bluster through it with smoke and swindle. He will claim victory early in the count then claim the rest is fake/fraud. He will use the courts (as he always does) to sow more doubt. He will create a climate of chaos and confusion that gives him the pretext of election uncertainty and walk away (if he walks away) saying he was robbed and it is all deep state fake.

    Peeps like Trump never face up to their failures. Never ever. He will ‘save face’ and that gives me hope he leaves of his own accord, chest puffed, hair quaffed, kicking and screaming but leaving all the same. He doesnt want to be pulled out of a hole with his hair messed up and no orange tan.

  6. Simon Katich:

    He will create a climate of chaos and confusion that gives him the pretext of election uncertainty and walk away (if he walks away) saying he was robbed and it is all deep state fake.

    If that scenario comes to pass, does Trump run in the 2024 Republican primary? It’s always been inconceivable that a losing first-term President would stand any chance of winning a primary, but what even is inconceivable in 2020 US politics?

  7. AB: Sorry. You need to work on your comedy routine. 😉

    SK: That’s a hopeful thought.

    Peeps like Trump never face up to their failures. Never ever. He will ‘save face’ and that gives me hope he leaves of his own accord

  8. Here’s a strategy for the Republicans, building on the idea that Trump might sow confusion, and then leave with face intact.

    Trump will claim he has Made America Great Again. He’s so great he only needed 4 years.
    Of course the problems won’t be fixed by 2024. And by then it will be time for the adults to take charge again.
    ??

  9. I live in hope that the polls are out by 3 or 4% – and that Biden’s lead is now nudging towards 15%! Biden needs to win in a massive landslide, to annihilate Trumpism once and for all.

  10. I live in hope that the polls are out by 3 or 4% – and that Biden’s lead is now nudging towards 15%! Biden needs to win in a massive landslide, to annihilate Trumpism once and for all.

    Not impossible. A lot of analysis is dedicated to polls being on the bullish side for Biden, it’s also possible they’re underestimating his support (Although I am not betting the house on it)

    As for the death of the Trumpism philosophy, I dunno how that is going to happen in the long term.

  11. Nate silver and 538 say they are deliberately underestimating Biden, and are factoring a swing of a few points to Trump….time will tell

  12. The town hall is not going so well for Trump. The moderator is finally asking him questions about his nuttier claims:

    “”I’ll put it out there. People can decide,” Trump said, a statement that stunned Guthrie.

    “I don’t get that,” Guthrie said. “You’re the President. You’re not like someone’s crazy uncle who can just retweet whatever.”
    https://www.smh.com.au/world/north-america/trump-talks-qanon-and-biden-talks-pandemic-at-duelling-town-hall-qandas-20201016-p565pc.html

  13. Go Jacinda! I hope you get to govern in your own right this time, though I know that’s very hard to achieve it in NZ. Thinking about it though, if you have to have a governing partner, after that massive smackdown of the QAnon whacko this week, it wouldn’t be too bad to see Winston Peters back on board again with Labour.

  14. State election officials across the US are reporting record numbers of voters casting their ballots ahead of election day on 3 November.

    More than 22m Americans had voted early by Friday, either in person or by mail, according to the US Election Project.

    At the same point in the 2016 race, about 6m votes had been cast.

  15. 1. No.
    2. Facebook is not a source of news. See #1.
    3. That post shows (or purports to) the registered party of voters returning ballots, not who they voted for.
    4. Wasn’t able to find 2016 (or prior) postal/early-vote breakdowns by registered party, but would hazard a guess that these metrics tend to skew heavily Republican, so the Dems being at/near parity is actually a good showing on their part.
    5. On the claimed numbers, it’s not red or blue voters who will decide the contest, it’s the independents on 20%.
    6. A more credible source actually shows the opposite in every swing state that reports voter registration data. Here’s Florida:

    https://i.imgur.com/qkgye0i.png

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