United States Elections

2020 US Presidential Election: Ranking the States by Margins

3 Mins read
2020 US Presidential Election Predicted Margins

We are adding a new look to our 2020 US presidential election predictions: a continuum of all the states.

Okay, fine, not just all the states: the split-out electoral votes and Washington, DC, as well.

In trying to help our readers visualize the details behind our United States presidential predictions, seen here, we have arranged all states and electoral vote sources in a continuum. On one end, you have the bluest of the blue which Joe Biden will win big. Down at the other end, those are the states and districts in which Donald Trump will run up massive totals.

Yet, the states in the middle are the ones which will be getting all of the attention.

When you click the image below (opens in new tab), you will see our thinking as of October 31. Our predicted margin of victory for the blue or red candidate is noted. To arrive at these numbers, we combined three factors:

  • Current polling averages and/or models, looking at RealClear Politics and FiveThirtyEight.
  • State voting trends in the 2016 and 2018 elections, inclusive of key statewide results in those years.
  • A bit of adjustment as needed if, for example, we feel the polls may be over or under-compensating for a particular candidate. Such variations accounted for no more than a point or two in each state.

We reserve the right to adjust between now and election day. Who cares if in the end we transposed Vermont and Massachusetts or Wyoming and Idaho.

2020 US Presidential Election State Margins Prediction

2020 Presidential Election - states ranked by margin of victory 10-31-20

Rationalizing for Those in Need

There are bound to be questions about why we have chosen to rank some states where we have. First and foremost, as reflected in the chart (and in a previous video we did), Florida is our tipping point state and we dary defy you to say otherwise. Some November nights it seems like the Sunshine State is legally obligated to have a close statewide election. The day a Florida presidential vote is a blowout is going to be very strange. That day is not coming in 2020.

Just as close as Florida on the other end is the 2nd District of Maine. Trump should win, but it looks uncomfortable for him. Maine was a surprise last time, with Trump winning ME-02 by a decent margin and keeping ME-01 close enough that he almost carried the state. That will not happen in 2020. The rural northern and Downeast 2nd will be close either way but the 1st, home to Portland, will be a blowout Biden win.

Of Trump’s “Blue Wall” wins in 2016, we now think Michigan and Wisconsin are the most likely to flip back to the Democrats and Pennsylvania is the least likely. Not a big spread of points in there, however. Polls in Michigan have been the most consistently good for Joe Biden and Pennsylvania and Wisconsin have varied but show Biden ahead. Wisconsin polls late in the campaign have gotten very strong for Biden, perhaps so strong that we tend not to believe them entirely.

Arizona is one we think Biden is going to tip but it is clear we do not think it’s a runaway. Mark Kelly is bound to run ahead of Biden in his US Senate bid. If they run even, then Arizona will be a good-sized win for the former vice president. Nevertheless, the state has been too red for too long and we see Trump going down swinging there, if he loses it.

The polls in North Carolina have been about tied for much of the campaign. Perhaps it was seeing pollsters and pundits burned by the “shy Trump” vote in 2016, but even if there is one in 2020, one would not think it will account for a big shift. In North Carolina, however, it might be big enough.

Utah may seem too close to the middle of the list but despite its redness, Donald Trump is not as big a hit out there as one may think. As of August, his net approval was just +13 in a state where Mitt Romney got 73 percent in 2012 (and 63 percent in 2018). That also happens to be about our view of the final margin.

Colorado is not in play but a 7-point win will be good enough for Biden. Virginia is also not in play. Texas is one the Democrats will still reach for, but we give Trump an edge of a handful of points. Yet, this represents a swing against Trump and may cost the GOP a few races down-ballot. South Carolina is not in play but this could be the closest it’s been in a while, which will help Jaime Harrison in his race.

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