Presidential election prediction 3: COVID-19 campaign edition

A microscope image of SARS-COV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19
One year ago, this virus only infected bats and pangolins.
Today, the President of the United States.

Well that was unexpected.

We got our October Surprise (TM) early this time. Just 25 hours into the month of October, at 1 AM ET on Friday, October 2nd, President Donald Trump announced on Twitter that he had tested positive for COVID-19.

Later the same day, he was reported to have started showing symptoms, although it is unclear when his symptoms began. By that night, he had been moved to Walter Reed Medical Center and placed on supplemental oxygen.

Today at 6:30 PM ET, Trump left Walter Reed Medical Center. I don’t think he’ll be back – not because he won’t need to go back, but rather because his medical staff is busy installing whatever is required to turn the White House into a hospital. If Trump’s condition worsens, the hospital will come to him.

And unfortunately, the typical trajectory of COVID-19 is for patients to improve for a few days and then get worse again. The up-and-down cycle continues until either the patient is healthy enough that they no longer need acute care, or they die. Obviously I hope for a quick, steady, and painless recovery for him and for everyone he may have infected – but I fear that is unlikely at best.

How this will affect the presidential election depends on how quickly Trump recovers, and how effectively his doctors can hide any relapses. We are seeing data only from the very first polls since Trump announced his diagnosis, and they seem to be heavily critical of Trump. For example, in a new Ipsos poll, 67 percent of registered voters agree with the statement, “If President Trump had taken coronavirus/COVID-19 more seriously, he probably would not have been infected with the coronavirus/COVID-19.” Considering how incredibly difficult it is to get 67 percent of people to agree on anything in today’s partisan environment, that’s a strong signal.

Similarly, polling data is starting to turn more strongly in favor of Biden, and that is reflected in the updated prediction map below. I realized that linking directly to the 270towin geographic map means that I can’t link to a larger version of the prediction map. So below is the prediction map, and if you’d like to try it for yourself, see the link below it.

As always, I try to report the data as clearly as I can. I care more about the truth than I care about what I think.

My predicted election results as of today, October 5, 2020

Make your own predictions using mine as a template at!

The final score prediction is the same: Biden 320, Trump 218. But some of the predicted confidence levels have changed:

  • Probably most importantly for determining the outcome: with Biden opening up a six-point aggregate polling lead there, I have switched Pennsylvania from “tilt Biden” to “lean Biden”
  • And similarly, I have changed both New Hampshire and Nebraska’s second congressional district to lean Biden
  • Perhaps most surprisingly, polling in Georgia is now basically a dead heat, so I have moved Georgia from “lean Trump” to “tilt Trump.”

Don’t be surprised if some of these states tilt back toward Trump now that the President is out of the hospital. But still, time is running out for Trump’s re-election chances – many people have already voted.

Including me – I dropped my ballot in the city lockbox on Saturday afternoon, and I got confirmation today that it has been received and counted. My voice has counted, and I hope yours will too. Vote!

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