Biden / Trump election prediction: Can the polls be trusted?

Making a prediction about the Joe Biden / Donald Trump election is harder than it seems. Most polls show Biden with a lead over Trump, but they aren’t really reliable sources upon which to make an election prediction.

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We only need to look as far back as 2016 to see just how unreliable the polls are when it comes to predicting the winner of the presidential election. The electoral college is the key, and the battleground states will decide the winner.

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Biden / Trump election prediction: What the polls say

National polls suggest Biden is leading Trump in the election, which is leading to many predictions that he will be the next president. However, if you take a closer look at the numbers, especially those in key swing states, you start to see just how slim his lead is. One issue is so-called "shy" Trump voters who are too embarrassed to admit to pollsters that they voted or plan to vote for him. If the 2016 trends hold, Trump is behind by enough in most of those states

If you study the national polls, most of them are predicting a 5% or 10% chance of Trump winning the election. One other factor to take into consideration is that this year will bring a much larger than usual number of mail-in ballots. Some of the early patterns have been going well for Trump in recent days even though most people who mail in their ballots are expected to vote for Biden.

Those ballots are facing pushback from the Trump campaign. Some states have made their rules for mail-in voting very loose because of the coronavirus, and Republicans oppose such moves. The problem is voter fraud, which can become a bigger problem with mail-in voting because some people might try to vote more than once, while others might try to cast other people's ballots.

Looking at the battleground states

To get a better prediction of the Biden / Trump election, it makes sense to look at the major swing states. However, even the polls in those battleground states are running very close—within the margin of error. That means Trump could still pull out a surprise win, just as he did in 2016.

The BBC compiled a list of the major battleground states for this year's election, along with a list of how each candidate is doing in each of the states. Trump won the 2016 election by almost sweeping the swing states. Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin turned out to be the keys in the 2016 election, and Trump didn't win those states by very much.

The swing states in this election are Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin. According to The BBC, which took averages of multiple polls in each swing state, Biden is leading in all the states except Iowa, North Carolina, Ohio and Texas.

The polling averages seem to suggest that Biden has a somewhat comfortable lead in most of the swing states in which he is leading, but not all of them.

Wall Street makes a Biden / Trump election prediction

Wall Street had been making a prediction about the Biden / Trump election, but that prediction has changed within the last week. With the markets soaring, it appeared that investors were expecting Trump to win, but now that stocks are falling, it looks like they're expecting Biden to win.

According to CNN, Wall Street predicted a Trump win until Friday. CFRA Research's Presidential Predictor indicates that the S&P 500 declined 0.04% between July 31 and Oct. 31, which suggests a prediction that Biden will beat Trump in the election.

Apparently, the market has a somewhat reliable track record in making election predictions. Since World War II, the incumbent president or party lost the election 88% of the time when the S&P declined in the three months before the November election. On the other hand, when the index increased during those three months, the incumbent president or party has won 82% of the time.

However, f Trump can keep a hold on the southern states he is within striking distance to pull off states like Iowa and Wisconsin and win another stunning victory. The unknown factor is voter day turnout - those are overwhelmingly Trump voters. If turnout is good tomorrow even a small percentage increase will give Donald another electoral college victory.