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:…
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...)
Nonetheless, one thing these polling averages are very good at is detecting when there's been a real shift in the race from when there hasn't been. So even if you never look at our probabilistic *forecasts*, we think the *averages* can help you in that regard.
I would note that our averages are tuned to a more aggressive setting in the closing days of the campaign. There certainly can be danger in under-reacting; we think some other averages were a bit slow to adjust to the Comey letter in 2016, for example.
In general, though, there tend to be more false positives in the final two weeks than things that really do move the polls. And that's perhaps more so in an election where there are few undecideds and many people have already voted.

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More from @NateSilver538

19 Oct
The thing is that Trump has very little leverage here. He needs the debate a lot more than Biden does.
Unless Stepien thinks Trump would be so bad that debating would lower his comeback odds, even though Trump generally wants high-variance strategies.

It's not crazy: Trump historically loses ground following debates and his messaging has been even more erratic than usual lately.
Like, if this is what's coming out of Trump these days, it's not clear that Stepien wants him debating, especially if he could also impact downballot races.

Read 4 tweets
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
17 Oct
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.
Read 7 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

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