But the election is not being held today. It’s being held in a little less than four months. That’s a lot of time.
To be clear, I don’t mean that Biden and Trump have similar chances of winning — far from it. Biden is clearly the favorite.
What I mean is that people often don’t realize what odds actually mean. Something may not have a likely chance of occurring, but it’s quite conceivable that it does happen.
It’s not shocking at all to receive a poll result back that’s outside the margin of error. It’s even less surprising when a poll comes in within the margin of error of the other results, though at the high or low end of the polling results published.
Borrowing from this margin-of-error concept, there’s literally no reputable forecast I know of that suggests that Biden’s advantage is outside that 95% confidence interval when projecting forward to November.
You can see how a race can change from this point forward by looking at history.
That’s more than the current margin between Biden and Trump. Two out of 13 times is well more than 2.5%. One of 13 times is plenty more than that.
This historical study doesn’t even take into account that Trump likely has a better shot of winning the Electoral College than the popular vote.
Importantly, you can look at a lot of different odds makers and reach conclusions similar to mine.
There are clearly differences among these odds. The similarity across all of them is that Biden is ahead, though not by enough to have a lead that can be considered anywhere close to being outside the true margin of error.
The worst result for Trump is having about a 1-in-10 chance. His shot would need to be below 1-in-40 to be considered outside the true margin of error.
Indeed, we still have a lot of events and potential game changers ahead of us.
Additionally, the coronavirus pandemic is bad right now, but there’s no real way of knowing how things will be when voters are casting their ballots. Perhaps the case rate will be lower. Maybe there will be better treatments. We just don’t know.
Speaking of the coronavirus, it feels like this campaign isn’t even really underway. Usually, a presidential campaign is the main news story by this point. But with the pandemic and the protests against police brutality, it’s been the number three story over the last month.
The campaign will eventually become the number one story. With a compressed time frame, we may see bigger jumps later in the campaign than we’re used to in modern campaigns.
The bottom line is that unless the economy totally falls apart or Biden starts leading by closer to 20 points than 10 points, this election will never be anywhere close to being safely in his corner at this early juncture.