The debates are over, the last election rallies be finished. Donald Trump and challenger Joe Biden are in the last straight line to election day on November 3.
Time for an interim score: how are the candidates doing? Below the latest state of the national polls and the forecasts in the most important swing states.
Anyone who follows the American media has not been able to fall under the polls for weeks from. Newspapers, TV channels, scientific institutes: everyone who takes themselves somewhat seriously conducts their own poll in the run-up to the elections.
Data websites FiveThirtyEight and RealClearPolitics bundle and weigh those polls to arrive at an average. A clear trend has been visible at both websites for weeks: Joe Biden is leading the way. Since the beginning of October, the Democrat has run even further on Trump.
These are the figures up to Monday October 26:
Despite what has often been said after Trump’s unexpected victory in 2016, national polls are a good gauge of the mood among American voters, correspondent Arjen van der Horst explained in this piece.
Still, the national polls are not everything. After all, in the US it is not the candidate with the most votes to his name that wins, but the candidate with the most electoral votes.
How that system works exactly, Arjen van der Horst explains in this video:
To predict the outcome, it is therefore more useful to look at the polls in states that are likely to be decisive for the outcome. In those so-called swing states it is impossible to determine in advance which candidate will win: sometimes a Democrat and sometimes a Republican. It is good to note that polls in individual states are often less accurate than national polls.
One of the most important swing statesFlorida is where many electors can be won. If that state goes to Joe Biden, data site FiveThirtyEight will give him a more than 99 percent chance of running for president. Conversely, if Trump wins Florida, Trump has a 40 percent chance of winning, according to the website’s calculation model.
Based on the average of the latest polls, FiveThirtyEight lists Biden in Florida favored to win. But the difference between the candidates is small: Biden is at 50.7 percent, Trump at 48.5. That difference is within the margin of error.
Other swing states
In Pennsylvania, another important one swing state, Biden is further ahead in the polls: 52.4 percent against 46.9 for Trump. The Democrats in Pennsylvania have an 86 percent chance of winning, according to FiveThirtyEight.
In the important states of Arizona, Michigan, North Carolina and Wisconsin, Biden is also ahead in the average of the polls. The biggest difference is in Michigan: 53.5 percent for Biden against 45.4 for Trump. In the other three states, the lead is limited to a few percentage points and the difference is within the margin of error.
Will Biden become president?
In general, the closer the elections get, the better the polls can predict who will win. If Biden takes the lead so shortly before election day, won’t he just run for president? No. A candidate leading the polls can also lose the race, as happened with Hillary Clinton in 2016.
It is therefore important to put the polls in perspective and to keep in mind that it is not about predictions, but about probability calculations. That’s why pollsters and analysts call Joe Biden favored to win, but certainly not yet the winner of the American election. That may not be clear even on November 3.