So far, returned mail ballots are D +31 (not a surprise given what polls show) whereas the set of mail ballots that have been requested but not yet returned are "only" D +17. Why does this matter?…
If (as this data shows) Dems are returning their ballots sooner, then mail ballots cast closer to Election Day—which in many states, will also be counted later—may not be as D as mail ballots overall. They could even wind up being R-leaning, conceivably.
This means there might not be as much of a blue shift in states with late-counted mail ballots, especially ballots that arrive after Election Day in states that allow that, as people might assume.
Also keep in that in the world in which the race is close enough for this to matter is probably a world in which Trump has made a fairly big comeback to close the race to say Biden +5. If there's late movement toward Trump, late-received mail ballots might not be so blue at all.
Anyway, when it comes to vote counting and the timing of when states are called or what the results look like on a given point on Nov. 3, 4, etc. people are actually oversimplifying when they talk about mail votes (D) vs. in-person votes (R). There are really 5 relevant tranches:
1. Early-arriving mail votes (VERY D)
2. Late-arriving mail votes (probably somewhat D, but hard to say)
3. Early in-person votes (somewhat D)
4. In-person Election Day votes (VERY R)
5. Provisional ballots (traditionally D but harder to say this year)
In certain states, some of these distinctions may collapse (e.g. if early in-person votes are counted simultaneously with Election Day in-person votes) but overall there are a lot of moving parts and which tranches are counted at which time will differ from state to state.

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More from @NateSilver538

19 Oct
The polls have been in something of a holding pattern for the past few days, with two distinguishing features.

First, Biden's lead in national polls is very steady. It was 10.4 points a week ago and it's 10.7 points now.… Image
You really have to squint/cherry-pick to see a Trump comeback in the national polls. The IBD/TIPP tracking poll has bounced around a bit in a vaguely pro-Trump direction, I guess. But the other two tracking polls (USC and SurveyMonkey) show a steady/increasing Biden lead.
There's also a lot of non-tracking poll national data, and it's just become very routine to see double-digit leads for Biden, especially in the higher-quality polls.
Read 5 tweets
18 Oct
Although everyone's waiting for that last twist of fate as with the Comey letter in 2016, more often the final two weeks of a campaign can be anticlimactic, with it being too late to shift tactics or change that many minds.
But everybody's anxiety level is very, very high. So there's usually a lot of jumping the gun at minor stories, any claims about shifts in the polls, etc. Looking at polling averages can be helpful in this regard:… Image
Even a 10-point lead isn't safe for Biden because 1) it's closer in the swing states 2) there's still *some* time for the race to tighten 3) polls can be wrong (although they'd have to be quite wrong, not just a little wrong, but I digress...)
Read 6 tweets
14 Oct
Look which state just turned blue in the snake.…
By the slimmest possible margin, I might caution. Biden has a 51% chance of winning Georgia and Trump 49%, per our forecast. Our model's priors favor Trump in Georgia but there's been enough good polling for Biden there to counteract them.…
Meanwhile, in the Georgia Senate special election, we have Loeffler (R) with a ~40% chance of winning after the runoff, Warnock (D) with a ~30% chance, and Collins (R) with a ~30% chance.

Ossoff (D) with a ~30% chance of winning the regular Georgia seat.…
Read 5 tweets
12 Oct
One fairly likely scenario is that it's readily apparent that Biden has won by Election Night but the networks won't call the race per se because they're being conservative about states that have outstanding mail ballots.…
There are also questions like: let's say Biden is ahead by 100K votes in Michigan as of midnight, and there are also an estimated 500K late-arriving mail ballots, and the mail ballots so far heavily favored Biden. Can you call the state for Biden?
I'd say no, because you can't assume the late-arriving mail ballots will have the same partisan composition as the ones you got so far. Maybe (especially given mixed messages from Trump) GOP voters were more likely to procrastinate before sending ballots in, for instance.
Read 4 tweets
12 Oct
Ad spending here, especially for Trump, is tilted toward the *closest* states rather than the *tipping-point* states, which is generally a mistake if your goal is maximizing 270+ EV although might make sense if you think that margin of victory matters.
There's also an element of game theory here. It can be dangerous you aren't spending resources on a state and the other campaign is on offense there, e.g. maybe GA or OH wouldn't be the tipping-point state ordinarily, but it could be if only Biden spent on them.
But instead of spending a bit there as a hedge or deterrent, the Trump campaign is invested quite heavily in those states and underspending in some of the more likely tipping points.
Read 4 tweets
12 Oct
Looks like IBD/TIPP will be publishing a daily tracking poll the rest of the way, which starts out at Biden +9. Not a good result for Trump given this poll has been one of his best all year; their previous poll, after the debate, had Biden only +3.…
Anyway, our national poll average is up to Biden +10.6. I believe that correctly reflects what recent national polls say, more of which show Biden up double digits than not. But the state polls we saw last week would not support that high a margin.…
If Biden is truly up by 10-11 nationally, we ought to be seeing a lot of polls where he's up 8-10 in WI/MI/PA or say 7 in AZ/FL or 5-6 in NC. And yes you can find *some* polls like those but the averages have been a point or two lower for Biden.
Read 4 tweets

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