Analysis: Biden Still Leads in Electoral College Projection
If Biden won all of the Tossup states, he would garner a whopping 375 electoral votes, a larger total than any presidential candidate since Bill Clinton in 1996.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden waves during a drive-in campaign rally in Dallas, Pennsylvania, on Sunday. Biden leads in polling in the state, which Donald Trump won in 2016. (DREW ANGERER/GETTY IMAGES)
AS THE 2020 presidential race nears its conclusion, Democratic nominee Joe Biden remains the favorite over President Donald Trump. But in our final handicapping of the contest – our first sincelate September – we’re tweaking a few states’ outlooks in the electoral college.
A month ago, we had Biden with 290 electoral votes leaning his way, compared to 185 for Trump and 63 in the tossup category. That put Biden above the all-important 270 electoral-vote benchmark for winning the presidency.
Biden remains above 270 electoral votes in our assessment, though he’s down slightly this month to 279. However, Trump has suffered an even bigger erosion, falling to 163. In turn, the tossup category has ballooned to 96 electoral votes.
Our assessment categorizes states as either Safe Republican, Likely Republican, Lean Republican, Tossup, Lean Democratic, Likely Democratic or Safe Democratic. Within each category, we’ve ranked the states from most likely to vote Republican to most likely to vote Democratic. The goal, after Election Day, is to be able to draw a line in the middle and have all the Republican-won states above the line and all the Democratic-won states below the line.
With this assessment, we’re moving six states into a different category. Of those six shifts, five benefit Biden.
The most important of these changes concern Arizona, Georgia and Iowa.
With this analysis, we’re shifting Georgia and Iowa from Lean Republican to Tossup, because both of these Trump-won states from 2016 have seen consistently tight margins in the polls.
As for Arizona, another state Trump won in 2016, we’re shifting it from Lean Democratic to Tossup. Although we still think Biden has a good chance of flipping the state, the current polling margins are closer to those of other states we have in the Tossup category, including North Carolina and Ohio, than they are to the trio of midwestern states that powered Trump’s 2016 victory: Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
Cartoons on the 2020 Election
Meanwhile, we’re shifting two states from Safe Republican to Likely Republican: Kansas and Montana. This is not because we expect Biden to win either of these traditionally red states in 2020, but because the margins for Trump in 2020 are likely to be significantly lower than they were in 2020.
Finally, in a bit of overdue house cleaning, we’re moving Maine’s statewide electoral vote and its 1st Congressional District vote from Lean Democratic to Likely Democratic. Maine is one of two states, along with Nebraska, that allocate electoral votes for each congressional district.
Our Tossup category, running from most likely to go Republican to most likely to go Democratic, now includes Ohio, Georgia, Iowa, North Carolina, Maine’s 2nd District, Florida and Arizona, each of which was won by Trump in 2016. Biden could win the presidency without securing any of these Tossup states, as long as he wins all of the states currently leaning his way. But if Biden did manage to win all of them – which would be a stretch but not unthinkable – he would garner a whopping 375 electoral votes, a larger total than any presidential candidate since Bill Clinton in 1996.
Our Tossup category does not include Texas, though it remains a plausible target for Biden. We’re keeping Texas in the Lean Republican category.
Biden still needs to keep a few potentially vulnerable states won by Hillary Clinton in 2016 in the fold, including Minnesota, Nevada and New Hampshire. But we think they are strong enough for Biden to rate in our Lean Democratic category.
Our ratings are based on reporting with political observers in the states as well as a look at historical, demographic and polling data.
In the rundown below, the state’s name is followed in parentheses by its number of Electoral College votes. States listed in bold have shifted categories since the last analysis. In Maine and Nebraska we’ve allocated electoral votes both by congressional district and for the state as a whole.
Here’s our state-by-state breakdown:
SAFE REPUBLICAN (97)
Nebraska, except 2nd District (4)
North Dakota (3)
South Carolina (9)
South Dakota (3)
West Virginia (5)
LIKELY REPUBLICAN (28)
LEAN REPUBLICAN (38)
Early voters line up in Columbus, Ohio, on Oct 6.(TY WRIGHT/GETTY IMAGES)
North Carolina (15)
Maine 2nd District (1)
LEAN DEMOCRATIC (67)
Nebraska 2nd District (1)
New Hampshire (4)
LIKELY DEMOCRATIC (30)
Maine, except 2nd District (3)
New Mexico (5)
SAFE DEMOCRATIC (182)
District of Columbia (3)
New Jersey (14)
New York (29)
Rhode Island (4)