The 2020 Presidential Election: How did I do?

Two weeks and a day after the 2020 Presidential election, we finally know the results of each state. The last to be called was Georgia, and thus the final electoral map looks like this:

The final electoral map for the 2020 Presidential election: Biden 306 Trump 232

So now that we know the final results, how did my prediction go?

Permit me a humblebrag, except maybe without the humble part, because I got

48.8 out of 50 states right!

Awwwwwwwww yeah.

Photo of The Dude from The Big Lebowski
Joel Zimba, probably

I missed on only Florida (29 electoral votes) and Nebraska’s second electoral district (1 electoral vote). I finished tied with Nate Silver, who also missed only Florida and Maine’s second congressional district going to Trump. My electoral vote total was farther off because of Florida’s 29, so the winner of the predict-off is… Joel Zimba! Congratulations Joel!

What my map proves, and Joel’s, and Nate Silver’s, is that once all the votes were counted, the polls were pretty much right on, with one major exception. Polling strongly underestimated Trump’s performance in Miami-Dade County, Florida, where Trump’s messaging was far more successful with Cuban-Americans than anticipated.

A histogram peaking at 45
The probability of successfully predicting different numbers out of 50 states at 89% probability for each

But remember that because of the electoral college, it’s not one election, it’s 50 separate elections. When you predict 50 different states with Nate Silver’s expected 89 percent probability (and yes, I know it wasn’t the same for every state, this is just a guesstimate), the probability of getting at least one state wrong is more than 99 percent.

The point of this is not to excuse the states that I missed – because seriously folks, I missed very little – but to remind us all that predicting future events is hard. All we can do is the best we can with the information that we have at the time.

And sometimes we do very well indeed.

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