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First expert survey for 2020: Biden leads Trump by nearly 5 points in popular vote


The Pollyvote has completed its first survey of elections experts to forecast the 2020 presidential election. In the survey, conducted from April 16-20, twelve political science professors from a variety of U.S. universities predicted that Joe Biden will win the popular vote.

The mean forecast is that Biden will garner 52.3% of the popular two-party vote, compared to 47.7% for President Trump. Eleven of the twelve experts expect Biden to win the popular vote, while one expert predicts a Trump victory.

This is the fifth presidential election campaign in which an expert panel has been formed by the Pollyvote to forecast the election outcome. The first surveys, those in 2004, did not begin as early as the current survey, but those in 2008, 2012, and 2016 did.

  • In 2008, the March survey predicted Obama to gain 52.4%, who eventually received 53.7% of the two-party vote; a forecast error of 1.3 percentage points.
  • In 2012, the April survey predicted Obama to gain 51.2%, a forecast that was off by 0.8 points, as Obama won 52.0% of the two-party vote.
  • In 2016, the March survey predicted Hillary Clinton to gain 53.1% of the two-party vote. She ended up winning 51.1% – an error of 2 percentage points.

Thus, even with this long lead time, the expert survey always correctly predicted the popular vote winner, and missed the final result on average by only 1.4 percentage points.  

As we see, the experts have considerable expertise in forecasting elections. Watch this space for the next report from the experts in about a month. 

Also, stay tuned for the first PollyVote forecast, which will be released in a few days. 

PollyVote thanks the experts who participated in this round, namely

  1. Alexa Bankert (University of Georgia)
  2. Andrea Benjamin (University of Oklahoma)
  3. Scott Blinder (University of Massachusetts Amherst)
  4. George Edwards (Texas A&M University)
  5. Sarah Fulton (Texas A&M University)
  6. Sandy Maisel (Colby College)
  7. Michael Martinez (University of Florida)
  8. David Redlawsk (University of Delaware)
  9. Larry Sabato (University of Virginia)
  10. Mary Stegmaier (University of Missouri)
  11. Michael Tesler (University of California, Irvine)
  12. Charles Walcott (Virginia Tech)
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