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The final stretch
Election Day is right around the corner. Is the tension palpable? That probably depends on who you support, where you live - who you may have backed to win - and what information you’re digesting.
While little is certain, despite what the headline polls may suggest, the weird and wonderful permutations of the Electoral College system - which requires a 270 vote majority to secure election - means the result is unlikely to unfold in as straightforward a manner as topline national polls suggest.
So Joe Biden’s lead looks comfortable. So did Hilary’s in 2016.
And we know the Electoral College vote can be won without the majority of the popular vote.
So far in the Cloudbet Blog’s coverage we have cited polling numbers, especially those state by state, from FiveThirtyEight in the belief that the methodology applied in its aggregation and weighting of national and local polls can provide as accurate a view as any polling option.
Using FiveThirtyEight numbers, Trump is polling within striking distance of Joe Biden in Florida (48.8% Biden; 46.6% Trump), North Carolina (48.7% / 46.8%) and Arizona (48.8% / 45.8%) - three of the Sunshine Belt states that Trump won in 2016 (the other two being Georgia and Texas).
Politico has mooted the notion that if Trump can carry the Sunshine Belt states again, and somehow take down Pennsylvania, he “could well hold the White House for four more years”.
Senior Trump campaign advisor Jason Miller told ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos in no uncertain terms his thoughts on the Sunshine Belt states: “I said I believe that we’re going to win all of them.”
And according to the latest data from betting markets, he may well be right: although North Carolina and Arizona are poised on a knife’s edge, Florida has moved into the Red camp (albeit just), Georgia looks a little more comfortable, and Texas looks to be the most comfortable of the lot.
So what then of Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania is now the “least Blue” of all the Blue states, according to Cloudbet data - moving away slightly from its Rust Belt neighbours, Michigan and Wisconsin in their support for the Biden camp.
It’s certainly an interesting shift to note… but is it enough to be a harbinger of things to come?
The polls still give Biden a fairly healthy 5.1 point lead (50.2% Biden / 45.1% Trump).
As Election Day draws near, as early voting numbers and voter turnout looks set to smash existing records, and as each candidate calls his supporters to arms, Pennsylvania will be the focus on Tuesday - the battleground on which this election may well be won or lost.
The outright winner market
At Cloudbet, our position on the election and its outcome is neutral and impartial.
At the time of writing, odds on Biden to win have narrowed back in a little to 1.49 from 1.57 when we last posted ahead of the final debate in Nashville - which puts his implied chance of victory at 67.1% (from 63.7%).
President Trump’s odds are currently 2.66 - having widened back out from 2.52 - putting his implied chance of victory at 37.6% (from 39.7%).
(Remember, these total more than 100% because the surplus reflects the bookmaker’s margin embedded in their odds.)
Of course, it’s important to recognise that the odds are fluid, so please ensure you check Cloudbet for the latest iteration.
As we’ve seen throughout the campaign, in many cases the polls suggest the race is much tighter than the numbers in our Electoral College map suggest. While polls capture a snapshot of opinion, there are numerous factors that go into how a bookmaker sets its odds on a political event such as this. They are numerous and many, and ultimately, it’s far from a precise science.
A headline-grabbing annualised 33% jump in GDP has given President Trump something to shout about (regardless of the underlying details; the economy is 3.5% below where it was at end-2019) - and this may be extremely fortuitous timing.
Pre-First debate (Sep 29)
Post-First debate (Oct 30)
Pre-VP debate (Oct 7)
Pre-Second debate (cancelled; Oct 12)
Pre-Third debate (Oct 19)
Pre-Third debate (Oct 20)
Pre-Third debate (Oct 21)
Turning to the states
Florida - the Reddest it’s been
The Sunshine State has since the beginning of our coverage kept us on our toes.
Florida is now the Reddest it’s ever been.
Starting off marginally Blue, that position then consolidated itself before a week later lurching Red (October 20), only to narrow back almost immediately towards undecided territory, then sitting on a knife’s edge (October 21). Since our last update the state has moved further into the Red - to a 54.8% probability on October 29 and to a 59.5% probability today that the President will take the 29 EC votes.
That has shifted our Electoral College seat prediction to 276-233 Biden-Trump. Remember that 270 is the all-important majority number needed.
Cloudbet implied probability of win
Knife-edge - Blue
Knife-edge - Red
Comparing October 12 to November 2, that’s an over-16% shift in the betting market probability.
North Carolina - the closest it’s been
North Carolina’s 15 EC votes also remain up for grabs
Although according to Cloudbet markets the state has remained Blue-leaning throughout, the extent of that conviction has moved within a tight range.
On October 7, the state was most precariously balanced, at a 50.9% Biden / 49.1% Trump probability split. The widest the gap ever got was on October 21, at 53.9% Biden / 46.1% Trump.
The latest numbers show that Carolina is now the closest it’s ever been, at 50.2% Biden / 49.8% Trump.
The winning party market at the time of writing is 1.94 Democrat, 1.81 Republican - and it’s showing up in undecided grey on our Electoral College map.
Cloudbet implied probability of win
Arizona wavering - Biden slides
In Arizona, identified earlier as a potential swing state, Biden’s probability of taking the state has been on the slide, slowly eroding over our coverage period.
Although Blue from the start (October 7) the trend is clear looking at the table below.
On October 20, Cloudbet markets slipped into undecided territory (of 5% either way) - albeit only briefly - but today, Arizona’s 11 votes look decidedly undecided.
Cloudbet implied probability of win
Pennsylvania decouples(ish) from Michigan and Wisconsin
The Rust Belt states are bracketed together for good reason - with a collective 46 EC seats, all are must-win states - a message driven home by Hilary Clinton’s failure to secure them in 2016.
Outside of Florida, Pennsylvania, with it’s 20 EC seats is the most important battleground. It is no surprise that the Trump machine has been in overdrive in Joe Biden’s home state, and on Saturday alone the president headlined four different rallies there
And according to Cloudbet’s markets this may well be paying dividends because a strange thing has happened…
It looks like Pennsylvania may have decoupled a little from Michigan and Wisconsin. Not so far as to say it’s turned Red, but levels of support for Biden have fallen substantially - off 10% from just a fortnight ago.
Biden told reporters last week that he hopes to carry the state “by the grace of God”.
Relying on acts of Providence may yet prove to be a risky strategy.
Probability of win
Pennsylvania (20 EC votes) has generally hovered near, or over, a 70% probability of going Blue - but from a print of 73% on October 21 this has fallen dramatically, now down 11% at 62%.
The FiveThirtyEight poll shows Biden with a relatively healthy 5.1 point lead (50.2% / 45.1%), but the Keystone State is undoubtedly where both campaigns are now focussed.
At the top of this piece we asked if the tension was palpable.
Uncertainty has a habit of tightening the chest.