The following data was collected from the latest FiveThirtyEight 2020 Election Forecast updates on November 2nd. Both the UK betting odds and PredictIt market prices also correspond to November 2nd. Numbers, screenshots and analysis are subject to change over the next few hours.
With just 5 days to go to the highly anticipated 2020 election, the presidential race between President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden is not the only face-off that is reaching its final and most chaotic stretch. As in the case of previous elections, and especially after the historic 2016 upset, data models and bettors are competing for accuracy when forecasting the outcome of the most important electoral event of the year.
Most pundit’s models use a similar methodology when making their 2020 races predictions, based on probabilistic algorithms applied to polls and fundamental data (e.g. demographics, economic indicators…) simulating outcomes millions of times to draw their conclusions. On the other hand, the betting markets reflect the latest odds matched between punters or traders, betting for and against an outcome at a certain price, often driven by many factors other than pure polling data.
The models were not accurate at predicting the 2016 result; a Donald Trump win in the Electoral College with 304 votes versus Hillary Clinton’s 227. In the last days of that race, bettors were pricing Trump at 25%, usually seen as a wrong ‘prediction’ by betting markets critics. This time the differences are larger than they were 4 years ago. Although models and markets currently agree that Joe Biden is the favorite candidate as we head into Election night, the latest trends of data models and betting markets have been very different.
For our last 2020 Election Numbers edition of this memorable campaign we’ll face off the FiveThirtyEight’s forecast, probably the most notorious forecasting site and model, against the latest odds traded in the betting markets. Remember you can follow all the action on these markets and the best insights through guesser.com. Keep reading to find all the numbers details below!
Starting with the big picture, the main outcome every single person is waiting for and the market which of course accumulates the highest matched volume within every bookmaker. Betfair’s Next President market has already broken an all-time record last week, becoming the biggest ever betting market with over 200M matched. The UK platform estimates that 400M will be bet in total before the final results are known.
The betting trend on both sides of the Atlantic has been very similar in recent weeks, with both Joe Biden and Donald Trump odds tightening until the President’s Covid positive result and the chaos generated around the White House situation that weekend. Since then Biden remains a firm favorite to win the presidency in November with, at the time of writing, 69% odds on Betfair and 64% according to PredictIt prices: Trump’s odds are currently around 40% on both platforms.
The Democratic candidate’s lead seems to be wider if we move to FiveThirtyEight Presidential Forecast, where a Joe Biden win is now predicted at 89% chance, more than 20 points above the betting markets consensus! The President's chances to remain in power after 2020 are therefore only 10%. The data model also sets a 349 votes victory at the Electoral College for the Democrats, while Trump and the Republicans would only get 180.
So expect a real blue wave sailing the States on Tuesday if you trust FiveThirtyEight’s numbers, or on the contrary, prepare for a much more disputed scenario if you’re confident in bettors’ skin in the game and where they put their money.
PRESIDENTIAL POPULAR VOTE BY STATE
When it comes to analyzing the 2020 presidential election popular vote, most of the key battlegrounds that boosted Donald Trump to victory in 2016 get all the attention within data models, as well as the most of the betting action.
In this case we are going to compare the swing states where the FiveThirtyEight Presidential Forecast and the betting markets show a different party as favourite to win. Two particular battlegrounds where both predict the same outcome but in a really contrasting way are also mentioned.
A must-win state? Since 1996, every presidential candidate who has succeeded in Florida has gone on to spend the next four years in the White House.
If we extrapolate this to the national forecast, we can say that FiveThirtyEight and bettors currently predict a different president for 2021! While the model data sets a 68% chance to win for Democrats in the Sunshine State, both PredictIt and Betfair price a GOP victory on Tuesday, at the time of writing, at 61% and 58%, respectively. Donald Trump and Republicans have improved their odds within this market by 7% in the last week after early vote reports were very positive for the President.
This is another key battleground that has made news recently after doubling its 2016 turnout a week before Election Day, seeing a special surge in the black vote.
Georgia leans slightly for Democrats in FiveThirtyEight’s forecast, where they currently get a 60% chance of winning. On the other side, betting markets from both the US and UK agree in the Republicans as favorites with odds at 62%. The GOP betting trend has not been favorable in the last month, although it has risen again by 2% during the last two days.
The third and last state where the two predictions differ is one of Trump’s preferred targets within the Rust Belt at the north-east of the country.
In Ohio, FiveThirtyEight currently forecasts a tie between the two parties with 50% chance each, while Betfair and PredictIt favour Donald Trump and Republicans again pricing their victory at odds 71%, 20 points above the data model prediction! The betting trend within the market sees the GOP’s odds rise 7% during the last week.
This is Joe Biden’s home state and one of the key factors, perhaps the most important one, in President Trump’s 2016 success.
So much so that for the 2020 race, FiveThirtyEight sets Pennsylvania at the top of its tipping points list, which ranks how likely each state is to deliver the decisive vote in the Electoral College. Democrats are given a whooping 87% chance of winning by the model, which also makes it easier to understand the overall advantage of Joe Biden in the main FiveThirtyEight forecast.
On the other hand, bettors and traders don’t seem to see the state so ‘blue’ and price the Democratic candidate odds at 69% at Betfair and 62% at PredictIt, an striking -20 point difference with FiveThirtyEight’s prediction.
Historically Republican at its core, this swing state holds the most electoral votes (38) and is another battleground where FiveThirtyEight notably decreases the GOP’s chances if we compare it to the betting markets.
Even though in Pennsylvania, both sides agree on the favorite party to win, in Texas the FiveThirtyEight model is giving Donald Trump and Republicans only a 61% chance to win, less chances than it gives Democrats in Florida (65%).
This is striking if we move on to Betfair, where the Republican Party’s options are much more confident at odds 73%, and similarly in PredictIt, which is currently pricing this outcome at 72%.
The 2020 Senate control has undoubtedly been the most difficult one to predict for pundit’s models during this crazy year. The current Senate is controlled by Republicans with 53 seats. This year, 23 of the 35 seats that are up for grabs are held by Republicans. Forecasts tend to set a low margin majority for the Democratic Party in 2020.
The FiveThirtyEight Senate Forecast is currently predicting a 52 seat Democrat control after 2020, leaving the GOP with just 48 senators in the upper chamber. This would suppose a +5 net change for the Democrats, which at the same time is the second most probable outcome according to PredictIt, which prices it at 16% on it’s market about the Senate’s change in seats.
But the most interesting prediction we can put against the betting markets within the FiveThirtyEight’s forecast is the chance of a Senate majority, which at the time of writing is predicted 76% in favor of the Democratic Party in the model and set Republicans at only 24% chances.
These numbers change a lot if we move to the other side of the forecast. Within the ‘Senate Control’ betting markets Democrats are currently priced at only 59% chance of winning, while their options drop to 62% at UK bookie William Hill. This sets a difference of more than 10%!
Despite the fact that this is in general terms the least contested race in all the 2020 Election, the expected Democratic victory has also different probabilities according to FiveThirtyEight and the betting markets.
Most forecasters predict Democrat control of the lower house in more than 230 seats of the 435 up for grabs in all cases, with some models eyeing even more than 240. The FiveThirtyEight House Forecast particularly forecasts 239 seats won by the Democratic Party on Election Night, giving them a 97% chance of a House majority.
The result of this race seems to be clearly advantageous to the DNC in the ‘House Control’ betting markets too, but Democrats’ chances here are reduced by 10%, with odds at 89% on Betfair and 87% on PredictIt. Therefore, Republicans are trading slightly higher, around 15% odds at the time of writing.
This summary comparison table is the end of the analysis! Let us know what you think on Twitter and feel free to share with your friends. Subscribe below for weekly updates like this one!