Nationals Baseball: Election Day !

Tuesday, November 03, 2020

Election Day !

Are you a Doolittle or a Suzuki (and Zimm and Corbin and...) 

Here's a quick guide on how to watch tonight's elections if you care to

Simple :

It can be argued you only need to care about Florida at first.  It's a big electoral state. It swings to both parties. It should call relatively quickly even if it's only a couple percentage points apart*. 

If it's called for Biden it's likely over. Florida is a bit of it's own thing but it's hard to see Trump winning the Midwest state given the polling and the closeness of those states in the 2016 election if he's losing ground in a state he won back then. 

If it's called for Trump then hang around and wait for the next likely battleground results in AZ and NC. Biden still has several paths to victory. If these go for Biden, it's over. If they are called for Trump, now we're in a dogfight. Essentially Trump has held his ground on his 2016 states outside the Midwest and we gotta wait out Wisconsin, who will try to call it tonight at some point even if "tonight" is after 6AM, Pennsylvania, who have resigned themselves to call it later in the week if it's close, and Michigan which is in between.  Trump barely won these so even a slight turn back toward the Democrats would give Biden the wins and winning all three still gives him the electoral count he needs. But unless something crazy happens (Biden wins Texas! Trump turns Nevada!) this means a hell week.  Let's not hope for this. 


Complex :  

When the polls close at 7:00 the speed on how fast they call states will give us an idea of how the night will go.  A lot of these states are so NOT close that they'll be called extremely quickly regardless, but Indiana and Virginia might give us ideas of how long this will take. Those are both pretty partisan states this election but not overwhelmingly so and would probably normally be called within... I'd say 60-90 minutes this time. (Typical for Indiana, faster for Virginia which is progressively getting very blue)

It does matter if the reasons these are not called are because it's "too close" or "too early". What's the difference? Think of "too early" as "everything going as we think it will but we don't have enough votes to get to the confidence to call" and "too close" as, well, too close. Both of these should fall into the "too early" category, and if that's the case and they are taking a long time that's bad news for an early night.  That means counting all these other votes, even in states with relatively low counts or good processes, will add significant time to the call times.  If they are "too close" that tells you something else. Indiana too close - good for Biden. Virginia too close - good for Trump.  But I don't expect either of these.

Assuming we don't have those delayed calls when the counts do start, Trump will take a very small early lead then Biden will blow past around 8:00 as the NorthEast comes in and those call. They'll trade some other states with Biden expanding his lead. 
Early bellweathers at this point will be Maine and South Carolina. Neither are expected to be close but are in a range where a few percentage points can change that. If one side is making an unexpectedly good or bad showing (I guess that goes hand in hand) we'll likely see it as these states make their counts. 

Around now (9:00 ish) you can go back to the simple analysis above.  We see when Florida calls and to who Florida calls. It's big. Still, it's not enough to win the game for anyone. You can also look at some other close ones. Nebraska-2 could be telling. Same with New Hampshire.  (If you are wondering Maine-2 tends to take a while in any election) 

The midwest will be closed by now but because the closest ones, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, decided to barely (or not at all) process before election day it'll be hours for them to call unless it's a landslide, maybe even then. So that means the next "toss-up" will be Texas, who also counts quickly. Of course I only see this being notable in a very strong night for Biden and you probably will know by the time Texas is likely to call if that's a possibility. 

The West Coast will call next around closing (11PM) and if things have fallen as expected, Biden will have a strong lead over Trump but won't be at 270 outside of a crush and with most left in play being battlegrounds.  We start playing a waiting game looking at Arizona, North Carolina, maybe Minnesota, Ohio, maybe Iowa, Georgia, and the aforementioned Wisconsin and see if anything gets Biden over the top or if it's a string of Trump holds that keeps him in the game. If it's the latter then it'll be up to MI and PA to decide it, likely over the next couple days.

Outside of timing issues, anything outside of this above would be a surprisingly result. I'm not talking about a state or two flipping in a different direction (that's possible). I'm talking about the general flow
  • Very small, early Trump lead
  • Big Biden push over Trump
  • Some back and forth with Biden's lead expanding
  • The Texas call to close a lot of the gap for Trump
  • The West Coast call to open it back up and get Biden within a couple states
  • The wait and see what happens.
and in all that does Florida fall for Trump and make it tense, or does it go for Biden and make it a fait accompli? 

I set the over/under for Biden at 305, expecting a Biden win but with a lot of close losses that mitigate talk of a blue wave. Last time I said (in private) I thought Hillary would win but Trump had a chance. Now I'd say I think Biden wins but Trump has a prayer.

*Note here : A "close" election that delays calling a state is REALLY close. Like under a 2% win.  Even as low as a 0.50% win - these guys can call it right with limited delay - a couple hours.  (They've only missed one in all these years and that one was RIDICULOUSLY close). Of course absentee ballots will change things but in general a lot of these states can and will be called quicker than you may think**

 ** unless I'm wrong about these absentee things and in that case just go to sleep because we're likely looking at the middle of the night at the earliest.  


Cautiously Pessimistic said...

To dig into the weeds more, I'm looking specifically at Macomb County, MI as the bellwether. If it goes to Biden, I suspect Biden sweeps WI, MI, and PA. It's a bunch of Reagan Democrats that tipped the scale to Trump in the last election and fit the 2018 Blue Wave demographic quite well (white, upper-middle class, suburban moms). I don't envision a scenario where Trump sweeps WI/MI/PA, but if he wins Macomb, I could see him taking 2 out of 3.

Something tells me that no matter what, though, this election is headed to the courts. I don't think there will be this "blue wave" just by nature of the Electoral College and shifting urban/rural demographics, and Trump has made it clear that he's ready to bring in lawyers the moment battleground states are called. Even if Trump pulls out a victory, I don't expect Biden to concede and move on with reports of voter intimidation already coming out of PA and NC.

It's a weird world and while you can probably infer I'm pulling for Biden, I just desperately hope the next few months are peaceful whoever wins.

Harper said...

I'm not as sure. Well I'm sure we'll see some things go to the courts but no one is going to get behind quixotic attempts. They might get put out there but they'll die fast if the election isn't very close.

G Cracka X said...

Nice analysis Harper! You’re clearly good at this type of thing. I usually go to fivethirtyeight for election forecasting

Harper said...

Seems like my big problem was that some states were affected far more than others in counting and that screwed things up. Virginia was slightly slower. Maine was WAY slower that kept them from being "hey - everything looks the same as last time!" matches to IN/SC

Close elections in AZ/NV, FLs Trumptasticness, and no turns from Biden kept him from having that bigger early lead and vaguely getting closer to win lead that I thought he might at various points.

I went from 305 down to "290s" in my estimation by like 9:00. Felt even closer than I had it to start. Why was I close to start? I don't know. I guess when it's going to be a blowout and everyone agrees you can feel it. And if it wasn't going to be a blowout... well there were just gaps that existed in winning percentages expected after PA and after AZ that suggested clumps would go or not. If no blowout you just had to set your gap and I set it after the PA with a state extra for something happening.

Natural Herbal Medicine said...
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