Nate Silver's Model Gives Trump Same Odds of Winning in 2020 As It Did in 2016

An election forecasting model places President Donald Trump's current chances of resuming office at 29 percent, as Democratic competitor Joe Biden maintains a steady lead in national voter surveys ahead of November's election.

Statistics-driven site FiveThirtyEight published the forecast on Wednesday. Its founder, Nate Silver, noted the model's prediction matched results shown in FiveThirtyEight's final forecast prior to Election Day in 2016, when Trump's win contradicted political polling estimates released during his campaign against Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

"Coincidentally, these are the exact same odds as in our final forecast in 2016," wrote Silver, a statistician who specializes in sports and election analysis, on Twitter Wednesday morning. He referenced FiveThirtyEight's forecast numbers four years ago, which suggested the probability of a Clinton win was 71 percent, compared to Trump's 29 percent.

"As was also the case in 2016, our model gives Trump a MUCH higher chance than other statistical models," Silver continued in Wednesday's tweet. The model based its figures on election simulations conducted 40,000 times. He said FiveThirtyEight will continue to update the forecast's details until the election.

Comments attached to FiveThirtyEight's election forecast recognize Biden's advantage over the president in current polls is more significant than Clinton's was at its peak in 2016. Still, Silver explained why present survey results may not necessarily signal November's election conditions in a Wednesday blog post, titled "It's Way Too Soon to Count Trump Out."

Silver's analysis provided more context about the recent forecast model, which he acknowledges gives the president a greater chance of winning than voter surveys indicate right now. He discussed the likelihood of a tighter race than current numbers suggest.

Donald Trump
President Donald Trump speaks during an August 11 news conference at the White House in Washington, D.C. Alex Wong/Getty

Silver said the forecast's probability accounts for a number of variables not explicitly reflected in national surveys, since the election race's remaining months are critical and can yield unpredictable changes to polling data. With national conventions and presidential debates still ahead, coupled with ongoing uncertainty brought on by the novel coronavirus pandemic, he argued there is still time for a shift in numbers between August and early November.

Silver also noted Trump's influence among members of the Electoral College. In 2016, he earned 304 Electoral College votes to Clinton's 227, becoming the fifth U.S. president in history to assume office without winning the popular vote. FiveThirtyEight's election forecast includes possible Electoral College outcomes based on its 2020 election simulations. On Wednesday, its model showed Biden earning the necessary 270 Electoral College votes in a greater number of simulations than it did Trump.