Midnight Update from PPFA

Technically, this is my ninth straight day with a post. Welcome to a PPFA Midnight Update! I’ll try to keep it to under 500 words. (Okay, 750)

Here’s ten bullet points for you:

1. The first couple hours were outstanding for President Trump. He beat polls in Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina, and he’ll likely win all three despite what the polls said and despite the networks dragging their feet on making it official.

2. However, keep in mind Presidential Politics for America saw all of that coming. It was already factored in when picking Joe Biden overall. That said, for a while there, the concern for a Democrat (or Biden picker!) was that the President’s success in the southeast, where he thoroughly beat the polls, was a sign that there was either a Shy Trump Voter or at least Bad Samples across the country. Florida, perhaps, was the canary in the coal mine.

3. Texas and Ohio will also be won by Trump, as was clear when Biden didn’t build a big enough lead in early returns with the processed mail-in ballots. Still, those were also accurate PPFA calls.

4. The betting markets responded in kind. Biden started the night as about a 2:1 favorite. The odds swung to Trump’s favor a little after 9:00, then they kept creeping up to 3:1, 4:1, and even 5:1. He had become an enormous betting favorite to be re-elected, apparently because gamblers have better things to do than read PPFA.

5. Arizona’s poll closure and early returns calmed those markets a bit. Joe Biden looks strong there, which would represent a flip from 2016. Trump odds then settled around 3:1 and sometimes 5:2. One network has now called Arizona, and Trump’s odds have dropped to around a 2:1 favorite.

6. The race comes down to — as I said repeatedly for the last four years — Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. I picked all three for Biden. If he loses Pennsylvania or Michigan, he likely loses the election. If he wins both, he can lose Wisconsin if his Arizona numbers hold and he gets expected wins in Nevada and Minnesota. Unfortunately, we will not know the winners of those upper Midwest states tonight.

7. Bottom line, though: the narrative of the race has shifted. We came into the night calling Texas, Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, and Georgia as “must-wins” for Trump and just bonuses for Biden. Trump won them all. Therefore, now we’re talking about states being must-win for Biden. So, although I haven’t been surprised by a single state result yet, it’s undeniable Trump is in a much stronger position now than he was at 7:00.

It’s like the World Series, and Trump had the first two games at home. Now the series shifts. Trump’s voters have shown up in states where he was supposed to win. Will Biden’s?

8. Here’s the map of what I feel decent about at this stage:

Note that this map prematurely assumes an Iowa call for Trump, and it prematurely assumes Minnesota and Nevada calls for Biden, all of which look appropriate, if early. All other states I’ve painted in are either called or will inevitably be called, based on current projections.

With a 247-243 score in favor of Trump, both candidates are in similar, but not identical, electoral situations. Here are your scenarios:

  • If either candidate sweep the three states, they win.
  • If either candidate wins Pennsylvania and a second state, they win.
  • If Trump wins any two of the three states, he wins.
  • And, of course, watch those second Congressional districts in Maine and Nebraska, because that’s where Biden can nose into 270 (MI + WI + a CD) or we can get a tie (Biden only takes MI and WI).

9. In less dramatic news, the House has been called for Dems, and some of the estimates look close to my predictions of the Democrats close to 240 seats.

10. The Senate, however, is less promising. Though I never agreed with sites like FiveThirtyEight that gave the Democrats a 75% chance at winning the chamber, I did have them barely getting to 50 thanks to a narrow win in North Carolina, which would require winning the presidency to earn the tie-breaking VP vote. However, it’s looking like Republican Senator Thom Tillis will hold off Cal Cunningham in the battle of the alliterative candidates. That really dampens the likelihood Dems win the chamber outright, and the GOP should ride Georgia (which I still think will be run-offs) to denying the Dem majority unless I get surprised in Iowa or Montana.

Now go to bed. We won’t have a winner tonight.


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