On Monday, FiveThirtyEight, the website run by polling analyst Nate Silver, launched its model setting the odds in the presidential election. Right now, according to FiveThirtyEight, President Trump has a 28 percent chance of winning reelection — almost exactly the 28.6 percent chance the model gave Trump on Election Day 2016.
Trump’s poll numbers are significantly worse right now than they were on Election Day 2016: If the election were held Monday, the FiveThirtyEight model would have only given Trump a 7 percent chance of winning.
“The uncertainty in our current 2020 forecast,” writes Silver, “stems mostly from the fact that there’s still a long way to go until the election. Take what happens if we lie to our model and tell it that the election is going to be held today. It spits out that Biden has a 93 percent chance of winning. In other words, a Trump victory would require a much bigger polling error than what we saw in 2016.”
It’s forgotten by some now, but the polls on Election Day actually did indeed show a very tight race in the states that decided the election. In the RealClearPolitics average of polls, Trump was ahead by narrow margins in Florida and North Carolina, while he was down 1.9 points in Pennsylvania, 3.4 points in Michigan, and 6.5 points in Wisconsin. In other words, every state Trump won in 2016 except Wisconsin was a race basically within the margin of error.