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Final PollyVote forecast: Biden likely to win – but Trump still has a chance


PollyVote’s work for this election cycle is done. Here is an overview of the final forecasts, and how they have developed over time.

National vote

According to the PollyVote, it is virtually certain that Joe Biden will win most votes. The final forecast is that Biden will win 52.2 percent of the popular two-party vote, which leaves 47.8 percent for President Trump.

Given the low historical error of the PollyVote’s popular vote forecast, the probability for Biden to lose the popular vote is less than 1%. Note that the PollyVote has never, not on any day in any of the previous four elections from 2004 to 2016, failed in predicting who would win the popular vote.

This cycle, PollyVote’s popular vote forecast was remarkably stable. Since it’s launch on May 15, the PollyVote consistently predicted that Biden will win the popular vote. Across the 173 days to Election Day, Biden’s predicted vote share remained within the narrow range of 51.5 and 52.9 percent, a range of only 1.4 percentage points (standard deviation: 0.3 points). 

The chart below shows how the PollyVote’s popular vote forecast has evolved over time.

Most component forecasts are in agreement with respect to Biden’s advantage in winning the popular vote. Polls are most bullish and expect Biden to win by 8 points, models have him ahead by 6 points, while expectations-based methods have him ahead by 5 points. The only component that has Biden losing by a narrow margin is the naive forecast, which in effect adds uncertainty by damping the PollyVote towards 50/50.

Electoral college

In its final forecast, PollyVote predicts that Biden will win 329 electoral votes, while Trump will win 209 electoral votes. The chart below visualizes the electoral map, and shows the candidates’ chances of winning in each state.

The tipping state is Pennsylvania. In order for Trump to win reelection , the president would have to win all seven states classified as competitive or toss-ups, namely Texas, Iowa, Ohio, Georgia, North Carolina, Florida, Arizona, and Pennsylvania. Since its first publication on September 10, the electoral vote forecast was quite stable, ranging between 325 and 345 electoral votes for Biden.

There is agreement across methods that Biden will win at least 270 electoral votes. Polls are most optimistic about Biden’s chances (340 to 198), followed by models (331 to 207), and expectations-based forecasts (317 to 221). Of 17 individual forecasts, only one outlier predicts that Trump will win reelection.

Chance of winning

According to the final PollyVote forecast, Biden’s chance to win the election is 77%. In other words, Trump still has a 23% chance at reelection. This forecast has remained quite stable since its first launch on September 10, although there was a slight trend towards Biden (the initial forecast gave Biden a 70% chance at winning).

Correction. November 3, 9:34 am (ET): An earlier version of this article mistakenly reported that the final electoral vote forecast is 333 for Biden and 205 for Trump. This was before running the final model update. The correct forecast is 329 Biden and 209 Trump. The numbers were updated in the article.

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