Joe Biden will defeat Donald Trump

Today – on November 3rd, 2020 – the United States of America hold their next election for the presidency amidst a raging pandemic, struggling economy and widespread political and social unrest. Democratic candidate Joseph R. Biden, a previous vice-president to Barack Obama, has held a strong (and steady) lead over Republican incumbent Donald J. Trump in both national polling and – more crucially – polling of vital swing states, such as Michigan, Wisconsin, Florida and Pennsylvania.

2020 presidential polls have now closed, and Joe Biden has been elected the next President of the United States. A “post-mortem” (of sorts) of my prediction can be seen below. Aftermath ►

Joe Biden has additionally seen success in polling from traditional Republican strongholds: Georgia, a deep-south state that has voted Republican in every election since 1992, has been seen by many as a toss-up. Even conservative fortress Texas, which last voted Democratic in 1976, has seen some favourable polling for Biden’s campaign. On the contrary, Donald Trump’s re-election effort has not seen the same glimmers of a prospective landslide: Trump is falling behind in many states he won in 2016, including the aforementioned swing states, and is far further behind his opponent in terms of both voter margin and undecided voters than he was behind Hillary Clinton in 2016.

As a result, my personal prediction is that Joe Biden will defeat Donald Trump in today’s general election by 334 to 204 electoral votes.

My forecast for the 2020 presidential election: Biden gains Wisconsin, Michigan, Arizona, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Florida compared with Clinton's 2016 result.

Justification is a little bit hard to give, but most of my predictions are based on polling and some knowledge of the state’s political affiliations (California, for example, is certainly Democratic). I’ve done my best to outline why I believe certain states will go certain ways below, but only for a select few swing or interesting states. Details are given for Arizona, Georgia, Maine, Michigan, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin. I most expect to get tossup states, specifically Ohio, North Carolina or Arizona, incorrect.

Arizona (AZ)

Arizona has only been won once by a Democratic candidate since 1952, when it was won by Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964. Nevertheless, demographic shifts and a competitive Senate race between already-once-defeated Republican Martha McSally and strong Democratic candidate Mark Kelly make this state a potential gain for Biden in the 2020 election. Polls in the state have been relatively favourable, although by no means decisive, and political ratings groups agree that this state is at least leaning Democratic.

✓ This state was won by Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Georgia (GA)

Georgia has never been too strongly Republican, with the GOP’s victories in 2008, 2012 and 2016 all falling within seven points, but it has been steadily Republican. This certainly could change this year, with the race a definite toss-up, although I believe it unlikely: polling for Joe Biden in the state has been cautiously positive but generally mixed, and demographic changes that newly delivered some counties to Hillary Clinton in 2016 may not yet have had enough of an effect to change the result of the entire state. Nevertheless, it is widely seen as a potential (albeit ambitious) Democratic pickup, and I could easily reason with a 2020 election delivering Georgia to Democratic hands; some analysts even regard the race as leaning Democratic entirely. I don’t doubt the race will be close, but I don’t believe Georgia will turn blue just yet.

✗ This state was captured by Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Maine (ME)

Unusually, Maine splits its four electoral votes: two statewide and one for each of Maine’s two congressional districts. This year, as in 2016, I believe that Maine’s first congressional district and statewide Maine will vote Democratic, giving three electoral votes to Joe Biden, but I still believe that Maine’s second congressional district will remain Republican: despite being rated as a toss-up or even lean Democratic by ratings agencies, Trump’s 51 – 41% victory over 2016 candidate Hillary Clinton appears to me to be close, but just slightly too far for Biden’s campaign to swing.

✓ This state was won by Joseph R. Biden Jr.

✓ Maine-2nd was won by Donald J. Trump.

Michigan (MI)

The swing state of Michigan was a crucial piece of Donald Trump’s unexpected victory in 2016, in which he carried the state by an incredibly narrow margin of just 0.23%. Favourable polling for Biden in the state, combined with a popular Democratic governor, places Michigan firmly within Biden’s camp. Pollsters and political aggregate organisations concur: Michigan is consistently rated as either lean or likely Democratic.

✓ This state was won by Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Nebraska (NE)

Similarly to Maine, Nebraska also splits its electoral college vote by congressional district (1 vote per each of the 3 districts, 2 statewide). I have little doubt that the heavily Republican statewide vote, as well as the votes from congressional districts 1 and 3, will go to Donald Trump. However, as in 2008 (and almost in 2016), I think that Nebraska’s second congressional district is much more likely to vote for Joe Biden, as seen across the majority of recent polling in the district.

✓ This state was won by Donald J. Trump.

✓ Nebraska-2nd was won by Joseph R. Biden Jr.

North Carolina (NC)

North Carolina is, in my opinion, not the ‘swing state’ many believe it to be. It is a Republican state that happens to vote Democratic on occasion – and, as such, I would feel inclined to believe that Donald Trump would win North Carolina as he did in 2016. However, polling from the state has widely favoured Joe Biden, and North Carolina, as a result, is likely to vote Democratic as it did in 2008, for Biden’s then running mate Barack Obama. The 2020 election may be the last election in which the state votes Democratic for some while – but I do believe it will regardless.

✗ This state was captured by Donald J. Trump.

Ohio (OH)

Ohio is the state that (personally) I am the least sure of: widely regarded as a toss-up, Ohio has been a perfect bellwether state (one that votes for the winner) since 1964, and has only had two misses since 1896. However, I’m taking a bit of a guess and saying that this year will be the first year since 1960 in which Ohio votes against the winner of the election. In 2016, the state voted for Donald Trump by a whopping 51.7% to Clinton’s 43.5%, making the state a whole 10% more Republican than the nation on average. Admittedly, it certainly could go Democratic this year, and I would choose Ohio to be the state that I am most likely to get wrong. Nevertheless, Ohio has trended more Republican in recent years, and I believe it is most likely to be this year in which it breaks from its bellwether history.

✓ This state was won by Donald J. Trump.

Pennsylvania (PA)

My personal choice for the indicative state for the 2020 election, Pennsylvania has Biden holding a steady, but not necessarily strong, lead in polling. Pennsylvania’s election may be unexpectedly close, but I still expect it to vote for Joe Biden. The lead that he does hold, while not being too astonishing, is certainly steady, and certainly much larger than Donald Trump managed to achieve in 2016. Biden’s 5-point difference is beyond doubt more comfortable than Trump’s 2016 victory that forms the state’s narrowest margin in a presidential election for the state in 176 years.

✓ This state was won by Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Texas (TX)

An unexpected list to the entry of ‘swing states’ (not really) in the 2020 election, Texas is a ‘conservative stronghold’ that has recently seen some incredibly strong performances by Democratic candidates, including in a 2018 senate race in which Republican incumbent Ted Cruz won re-election by an astonishingly thin 3-point margin (he had won his previous election by 16 points). Trump carried the state handily in 2016, and I expect him to do the same in 2020: Texas would be the ultimate prize for a Biden landslide, and while the state is undoubtedly becoming more competitive I doubt it will fall into Democratic hands just yet.

✓ This state was won by Donald J. Trump.

Wisconsin (WI)

Wisconsin is similar to Michigan in both location and the fact that it was a deciding state for Donald Trump in 2016, in which he carried the state by 0.77%. Wisconsin was the tipping-point state of 2016, a required victory for both Trump and Clinton that decided the election in Trump’s favour. It is unlikely to be so kind to Trump this time round: Biden has shown strong and unmoving leads in Wisconsin state polls, and it (like Michigan) is too consistently seen as lean or likely Democratic.

✓ This state was won by Joseph R. Biden Jr.

This was published at 21:43 (GMT) on November 3rd, 2020, around 75 minutes before the first presidential polls closed. It was edited in order to fix grammatical mistakes at 21:54. A disclaimer was added again two days later, 21:21GMT on November 5th, along with some SEO adjustments. The post-mortem, and the results attached, were added on November 14th, at 14:38GMT.

Post-mortem

Overall, I managed to correctly predict (guess) 47 of 50 states correctly, including the split electoral votes from Maine and Nebraska. Arizona did indeed flip blue for only the second time since 1948, and Ohio did indeed go red and break with its notorious bellwether status for presidential elections. North Carolina and Florida, however, stayed unexpectedly red, while huge swings in voter registration and turnout in Georgia turned the typically deeply Republican state into a battleground – and then, Democratic.

More success for my personal prediction comes in the ‘Rust Belt’ states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Straying from their role as critical pieces of Donald Trump’s 2016 victory, all returned to the Democratic Party. Additionally, both Maine’s and Nebraska’s 2nd congressional districts broke with their statewide votes, going for Donald Trump and Joe Biden respectively, while Nevada remained blue after a close count and Iowa red. Overall, not too bad.

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