Don't trust electoral college tracking maps based on whim and prayer

Originally published at:


Just need to reiterate that polls today mean basically nothing for election day. Doing the horse race stuff in June is largely just a way to give talking heads something to blabber about that isn’t the race riots currently happening in the US.


If this simply reminds Biden and the Dem establishment that the Electoral College is something they have to take into account when campaigning (unlike in 2016), it’s worthwhile. But yeah, they shouldn’t count on it as a predictive tool.


Fivethirtyeight did a great job of cautioning against the apparent result the 2016 polls implied. IIRC, the day before Election Day they were saying it could easily break trump’s way with a few subtle changes.


Exactly. The press should spend more time on covering the real bullshittery and actual crimes that are taking place in the trump administration.

But I guess giving the maps crew something to do is more important.


Because that national poll isn’t how the election is decided, as we’ve seen. It’s not helpful to know that Biden could win nationally by even more than Clinton did and yet still lose, unless you want to talk about how and why that could occur and it’s implications.

Without any shading in the middle, it’s not clear if all of those state level polls are clearly one side or within the margin of error?

While I don’t know all the state level polling off the top of my head, my gut reaction is that many of those states are not solid blue or red, but somewhere within the margin of error. Google sends me to a random site that tells me Texas, Iowa, Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio, and others; 13 states where the margin is 5% or less.

Which just means, the picture showing the big win ins’t any better. :frowning:

It would be nice if they were all one sided far enough that there was no wonder. But, I suspect that’s not true for every state today.

Edit: Doh, there was a link to the state level results. I need to read closer. But, that’s exactly it, on that link, 13 states have a margin of 5% or less. With 9 of them 3% or less. In my mind, those are all toss ups. To be safe, anything less than 10% could be called unknown, 16 states in that bucket. West Virginia and Massachusetts are probably safe to say which way they’ll go. :slight_smile:


So…don’t have hope or enthusiasm. got it @beschizza


Don’t trust any polling at all.

Stay mad. Get out there. Vote like your life depended on it. Walk out of work to vote. Get everyone who you can to vote.

The Republicans are going to do everything that they can to win - cheat, lie, steal, everything. They are trying to do voter suppression, and making it harder for people in traditionally democratic areas to vote, and doing all kinds of gerrymandering.

Now, here’s the thing - congressional districts are redrawn every 10 years. Coming up here next summer. Don’t like Gerrymandering? Win this election cycle.

Hate your sheriff? Vote him out.

Don’t like your police? Vote for a council and mayor who will fix the problem.

Up and down the ticket; vote like crazy, educate yourself and vote. I don’t care if it sounds like it will be a landslide, I don’t care if it feels like it doesn’t make a difference; I don’t even care if you think that the elections are rigged. GO. VOTE.



538 had it at around 70/30 in favor of Clinton at the end. Things that have a 30% chance of happening are not all that uncommon.

Now Sam Wang on the other hand… this article always makes me chuckle.


Polls are, contrary to rumor, generally accurate.

Polls taken the day before the election and polls taken 5 months before the election are accurate to different things. And as students of 2016 results will remember the term “likely voters” incorporates rather a lot of highly technical modeling complexity.

Incorporate various lines of evidence, if you want a complete picture.


Less sportball coverage by the pundits - more covering the issues and news please.


Meanwhile Trump’s lawyer is threatening CNN because their poll made Donnie cry.


Of course, there’s also the obvious site too:

It is tracked by polls and updated daily-ish. Not right or wrong but the closest in real insight I have seen. Was once and maybe still is run off a single excel spreadsheet and some custom web code.

If it’s current btracking seems to-good-to-be-true, it has you covered. You can compare this point in the campaign to previous ones and you’ll see how this moment does have an eerie similarity to the butter males of the last one.


Always a good source, that. I like to keep an eye on the

Electoral College 2020 Excluding States Where the Candidates are Statistically Tied

(If you’re reading this after June 11th, click through to find the live graph. Discourse will grab the image and freeze it, preventing it from updating.)


This statement is true of all knowledge. :+1:t3:

With polling averages it’s hard to calculate a formal margin of error because the averaged polls have different methodologies. But here’s the map with state averages within 5% excluded.


Don’t mess with Texas.

The point is not to provide a methodologically sound prediction of electoral college results, just to show how absurdly far punditry is from what results we get if current polls are taken at all seriously, which we should since they dominate news coverage and are a constant source of horse-race reportage. Besides, the margin of error isn’t gray space on the map, it’s a confidence interval.

If you want Biden to win, the current polling map is about as hopeful and enthusiastic as you could possibly dream of given how polarized voters are. I doubt Trump’s support ebbs much further below 40% without a medical crisis or genuine mental health issue.

MAP EDIT: Ninja edited Florida.


Polls do not account for the election day success of voter suppression campaigns


Well. here is the thing…we have a two party system. There is literally 0% chance a third party candidate could win.

So…if we resign ourselves to this truth (perhaps it can change in the future, but this is what we have now)…The question is not “if you want Biden to win” its I want Trump to loose…I don’t give a damn if its Biden or a house plant.

So…this gives me HOPE. And instead of consistently giving a cynical post about how “don’t believe this” and “this is how the jackass gets re-elected”…can’t we just have something happy?

“Hey, the latest polling data looks good for some change in the right direction. Take it with a grain of salt of course, but at least it looks promising”.

Because I can’t speak for anyone else…but perhaps everything else around me is so god damn awful and on fire…maybe I am a tad tired of negative spin on EVERYTHING.


Now we need to support the “Yes On National Popular Vote” campaign in Colorado, and urge state legislators, in states with the 74 more electoral votes needed, to enact the National Popular Vote bill for the 2024 election.

The bill is 73% of the way to guaranteeing the majority of Electoral College votes and the presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in the country. The bill changes state winner-take-all laws (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but later enacted by 48 states), without changing anything in the Constitution, using the built-in method that the Constitution provides for states to make changes.

It requires enacting states with 270 electoral votes to award their electoral votes to the winner of the most national popular votes.

All voters would be valued equally in presidential elections, no matter where they live.


I’m not so sure. Brian Kemp, for example, who won Georgia through one of the most blatant suppression campaigns against Stacey Abrams, was ahead of her in most polls.

It’s not that polls set out to account for voter suppression, just that polls that isolate “likely voters” tend to do so indirectly. On-the-day fraud isn’t a well-established method of vote suppresion in the U.S., but gerrymandering, long-term polling infastructure failures, lack of mail-in voting, etc., are