Suprisingly, only a few of my friends were following the 2020 election data closely. One of them was my friend Li, and me being as impatient as I am and Li being as good at spreadsheets as he is, we set up some incredibly simple modeling on the remaining states to see if we could predict who would win. All we did was copy and paste the NYT data, determine the current margin of Trump to Biden votes for each county, and then figure out how many more votes would go to Biden or Trump (assuming of course the margin held; although at times we allowed for some skew for mail in votes, because those tend to be more blue). While everyone was freaking out on election night about Nevada and Pennsylvania, we were freaking out about Georgia because it looked like it was going to flip blue for the first time since 1992.read more
I was keeping my entire family up to date with our analysis because I knew they were very nervous about the outcome, and all the networks do is talk about the current vote margins, not the ratios of votes that are coming in and are remaining by county, let alone modeling out a prediction based on those ratios. We called the election for Biden in the evening of November 5th, CNN didn't call it until the morning of November 7th. Here's the full conversation up until the election officially got called.
When we originally ran the analysis at 8:16pm on election night, we predicted that Biden would win by a 25,571 vote margin. In the end, Biden won by a 11,779 vote margin. I teared up when our prediction came true:
And here it is. 4:32am, November 6th. 1.824 votes were just added. 87% of them went to Biden. Biden is now 🎉WINNING🎂 Georgia by a margin of 917 votes. I think Biden's margin will grow throughout the day. And just like that, Trump is toast. Even if he manages to win every other state: Arizona, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Alaska, the last delegate from Maine, and North Carolina, an exceedingly unlikely scenario, he will only get to 269 votes. If they both tie at 269, the president I believe is determined by the house and the vice president by the senate. The last time Georgia went for a democrat was 1992.
And in a beautiful moment: "the community flipping the switch from red to blue in Georgia was represented by the man who spent his life fighting for the right to vote. Rep John Lewis spent 34 years serving #ClaytonCoGA in Congress."
November 4, 2020, 3:43 AM Joe: Georgia is going to be the first deciding factor, then after that Pennsylvania might be a factor, but we'll almost certainly know Georgia before Pennsylvania. Seems like there will be a nice blue skew for Georgia, so that honestly could be what makes it all over. I think Georgia is what's going to call this election. If Biden doesn't win Georgia, it'll be up to Pennsylvania. Joe: If Biden loses both, then the election is over and Trump has won. Joe: Looking at the counties in Georgia, it's looking decently good for Biden. The ones that have the least counted by far are the Atlanta area, which skew 70-80 Biden. November 4, 2020, 5:50 AM Joe: Honestly, I don't think the forecasts were that far off. Because right now it's an 82% chance of Biden winning. down from 88% according to Five Thirty Eight's forecast before the election began. So even thought it might feel despairing, I think this is exactly what they warned about which was it's going to feel like one candidate is winning but over time the other pulls ahead. Joe: it's 6am, and unlike 4 years ago, I'm feeling better and better as the night goes on. The odds are looking good for Biden. Joe: some other good stuff, like more marijuana legalization, also Oregon legalizing medical mushrooms (very big for mental health), and Mississippi is changing their flag so it doesn't have a confederate flag inside it. Auntie Toni: Thank you for the good news! I was feeling despair. have to leave for work soon and I'm feeling more hopeful. Thank you. Medical mushrooms wow, I missed that whole thing. Who needs a news source when I have you! Joe: Not everyone has called it yet, but Biden winning Arizona is probably the biggest help to winning so far. Joe: meh I don't really know what I'm talking about, but I do understand statistics! November 4, 2020, 9:04 AM Cousin John: Thanks Joe. We're all just holding on tight, but I'm far from losing hope. I have faith Cousin John: Bring this home North Carolina. And keep the blue wall standing!!!!! November 4, 2020, 2:06 PM Joe: I think the path from NC is highly unlikely. Although many ballots have yet to be counted from Wake and Mecklenberg county (Raleigh and Charlotte), the margin might not be made up. I think Georgia is more of the state you should look at, they also have committed to counting the ballots sooner than NC, plus in NC ballots can actually arrive from the mail and be counted until ~Nov 10th, so they may be one of the latest ones to be called. Uncle Ken: MI and WI a must then as is Nevada I think. PA would lock it up just not sure what is going on there and if he can close that gap. Surprised senate didn't swing. I hate being in the minority. Joe: He could lock it up with just Georgia, Wisconsin (called), and Nevada. Joe: Michigan and Georgia are equally valuable, 16 votes. Uncle Ken: Yep. Just feeling like he's got a better shot at Ml. Time will tell Joe: Either way, there are a lot of paths, and it's looking good. Joe: Yeah, you're right, only taking a look at Michigan now, and it does look promising. Many of the uncounted ballots in the urban areas. Joe: Which skew 66% Biden Uncle Ken: That is my thinking. Joe: But the main thing I'm interested in isn't so much which one is more likely, but which one will tell us sooner Uncle Ken: Agreed. Cousin John: We have faith Cousin John: Pennsylvania, and if what you're saying about North Carolina is true, probably won't be called super soon, unless someone pulls away Joe: I'd look to Georgia and Nevada. Winning just those two will win him the election. Maybe Michigan instead of Georgia, but it really depends on who is counting faster and I need to look more into who is likely to do it sooner. Uncle Ken: They filed suit in MI to stop the counting until the republicans have "meaningful access". Joe: this is one reason I'd watch Georgia today. Joe: We should have a good update on Georgia by 9pm tonight (not necessarily a full count). That race is going to be pretty damn close, but it seems pretty promising for Biden. Joe: Trump currently leads in Georgia by 79,509 votes, and the secretary of state said during an 11:30 a.m. press conference that there were still 200,000 mail-in votes and 50,000 early votes to count, mostly in Democratic-leaning counties like Fulton and DeKalb Mom: I really appreciate your updates. I haven't looked at anything since this morning. Joe: thanks mom Joe: There is some concern about Arizona now not being so confidently for Biden, but we'll know a lot more at 9pm. Both Arizona and Georgia are giving a bia update at 9pm. Joe: Although Arizona is a small "if" assuming Arizona holds, Biden only needs to win one more state to get to 270: Nevada, Georgia, Pennsylvania, or North Carolina. I've put those in the order most likely for him to win (soon), although Pennsylvania might be more likely for him to win in the long term. Joe: Really just waiting until 9pm, unless something unexpected happens like Nevada counts their ballots really fast or something. Auntie Susan: Thanks for the update joe. Glad to hear about Michigan. Auntie Susan: Do I have this right that if Michigan and Nevada go to Biden he has the 270? Joe: Michigan is pretty safely called for Biden alreadv. Joe: Like I said, he only needs one more state to win. The only concern is that he actually could_ lose Arizona, but it's not super likely. That one was called a bit early (last night), by Fox news of all places. Auntie Susan: So has those electoral votes already part of his current total of 248. Joe: He has very safely secured 253 votes. With Arizona he's at 264. Joe: The only remaining states would put him at the mark. Even if he just won Nevada, with its 6 electoral votes. Auntie Susan: Thanks joe. Joe: (the others on the table are NC, highly unlikely, Georgia tossup, or Pennsylvania, probably tossup but too early to tell). Joe: Nevada might not give us a major update until tomorrow, Thursday. So we can really only expect to hear about Georgia and Arizona tonight. If Arizona holds for Biden and Georgia is secured, then it'll all end tonight at 9pm or 12:30am. Otherwise, we'll have to wait until at least tomorrow to hear about Nevada. Joe: So this is Georgia. ((4,832,616/.94)-4,832,616)*m argin = differential, where differential needs to be >= 57,266 for Biden to be able to take the state. With this, the margin comes to be 18.5%, so Biden needs to winning the remaining outstanding votes by a margin of 18.5%, or 68.5% of the votes. This is feasible, but it'll be close at best. The most outstanding ballots are in counties like these: Joe: I would definitely say Georgia is still a tossup, but it's the earliest hope we have to finding out the final results tonight. My guess though is that it'll be close enough to warrant a recount either way. Cousin John: Damn. That's really crazy. It's to be so close. I would still rather not find out if Biden won tonight and Biden end up winning than Biden not winning at all, you know. Joe: Going county by county for these big ones, the remaining ballots are 40,837 in Cobb, 39,032 in DeKalb, 16,417 in Clayton, 4,752 in Douglas. All estimates derived from the NYT and ABC data. https:// docs.google.com/ spreadsheets/d/12WZppLxm- 151c9PC9XLTuHJK7WoletOLd UnDh58qUaE/edit? The mail in bump is really a guess, but no matter what, I think Georgia is going to be so close a recount could be called. Cousin John: Wow. This is insane Cousin John: I believe Joe: Ok, news is getting even better for Biden in Atlanta. Fulton county just said they have a lot more ballots to count, whereas we thought they were done. They go 72% democrat so far. This county alone could be responsible for breaking what would have been a very close race in Georgia. Joe: We may get a trickle of results coming in from Fulton from now until midnight, when they expect to finish. That combined with the 9pm update from other Atlanta, Georgia counties could be enough to not only decide Georgia tonight, but the entire election (again, assuming Arizona holds). Joe: Li and I are actively updating the voting estimates in the remaining Georgia counties. But it'd definitely be within recount territory. Joe: Li and I are now just doing a projection based on the NYT data, very simple, just playing out the current spread. We're being as conservative as possible and Georgia still comes out to Biden. November 4, 2020, 9:55 PM Joe: Georgia counties are not keeping up with when they said they'd have things counted, so we're still waiting. Still waiting. Joe: Arizona is looking more and more of a tossup, probably should not have been called by Fox for Biden yesterday. This is nail-biting news. Joe: On the bright side, Pennsylvania might be a savior, but it'Il be a while before we know for sure. Joe: But Georgia is still looking good, the results that are coming in make sense, the margins are holding in these counties, and Li and my projections have that if this continues, Biden will win the state with at least 10,000 votes. Again, as long as Arizona doesn't fall, that's the ballgame. Joe: Georgia is especially interesting, because we could end up with at least one, maybe two runoff elections in the senate there, which would be enough for tie in the senate. Everyone's attention should be on Georgia right now. Cousin John: Wow Georgia really doing it right now Joe: Big update from Dougherty county, they just finished counting. According to the NYT data. Cousin John: NBC has them at a 0.6% difference. Is that Arizona or Georgia? Joe: Georgia. added 773 votes for Trump, 2.325 for Biden. Joe: That's 25% for Trump, 75% for Biden. That's significant because these late votes had that spread, whereas their earlier votes were 35% for trump and 65% for Biden. Joe: That means that the mail in votes exaggerated the dems lead. Li and I have been assuming a 0% mail in vote exaggeration, but at least in this county, we saw a 10% mail in vote exaggeration. Cousin John: Damn this is insane. It is so close. Mad respect for these models Joe. I hope they are accurate like you say Joe: it is for now, but I don't think it's going to be. I think Biden will win Georgia by at least 10,000 votes. Joe: lol it's so easy, it's just taking the existing margins and assuming they hold for the remaining vote counts. Joe: We could go farther and start modeling out the mail in bump, but honestly I don't think we'll need to. Cousin John: Knock on fucking wood bro Cousin John: Knock on fucking wood November 5, 2020, 12:34 AM Joe: Li and my projection is showing a growing margin for Georgia as more counties come out Joe: This is due to an additional 4,344 out of DeKalb county. Now the spread here for all of their 367,359 votes has been 83.5% for Biden, but these 4344 votes that they actually added was only 82.5% for Biden. Not a big deal, but interesting that this didn't see the same mail-in bump that we've seen at least one other county see. Joe: Another 10,461 votes just came in for Fulton, Georgia. Our conservative estimate expected 73% of those to go to Biden, 77% of them ended up going to him. That's good news, although it'd be better if the mail-in bump were even higher (like 10% in the case of the other county). Biden winning Georgia is really going to come down to the estimates of just how many people actually voted, that's what could end up making this a stalemate, or a very narrow win one direction or another. This is going to be such a close state, far closer than Wisconsin was (when adjusting for population). November 5, 2020, 12:45 AM Joe: Just woke up, morning update. Bad news from Georgia. What I feared last night is coming true, some very democratic counties that the NYT was reporting as ~85% or 90% reported have bumped it to 93% or 95% even though no new votes were counted. Notably, counties like Clayton (103,553 ballots counted so far with a 71 point spread) which used to be claimed at 84% reported now have 92% reported with no new votes counted. This basically just means less room to grow, so we would hit the vote ceiling before we can catch up. Biden has 49.2% of all votes in Georgia, Trump has 49.5%. Last night, our projection had Biden winning the state by 7800 votes. With this new data, he's losing it by 4000 votes. Uncle Ken: PA had halted vote counting in and around Philadelphia as appellate judge had ordered trump campaign in person access to where votes are being counted. Case is going to PA Supreme Court but counting halted in Philadelphia as moment. Crazy. Cousin John: This is insane. Really? To both. Dad. what does that mean for the counting, will they continue still? Uncle Ken: Yes. Halted temporarily. Will resume either with order allowing them in person to monitor or not. Probably by day's end Joe: Yeah, again, why I'm banking on Georgia to finish the count soon. PA will be who knows how lona. mavhe Nevada and Arizona will pull through who knows, Georgia is taking a while. Cousin John: Okay cool. That's good Cousin John: It's. So. Close. Uncle Ken: I think announcement expected this afternoon from Nevada and maybe AZ as well. Sounds like NC has been conceded to Trump. Joe: Based on the newest data in from the NYT though, we think it's reasonable to give a mail-in bump to Biden of about 3.5%, which will have him winning by about 3000 votes in Georgia, which makes our model no longer conservative, but average-ish. Either way, it's going to be incredibly close, probably 5000 or fewer votes will decide Georgia. Also note that two senate run-offs in Georgia is increasingly likely, which, if both won by democrats, could mean a tie in the senate with a vice president breaking. Georgia is as hot as it gets right now. Auntie Susan: Thanks joe. You're a mountain of info. Cousin John: Yea keep it coming Joe, this is really awesome Joe: Nevada is getting to the point where it might be callable for Biden. This will put some networks like Fox in a very strange position. They'Ve already called Arizona for Biden, and they're one of the only networks to have done so, so if they call Nevada for Biden too, then they will be the first network to call the entire election for Biden. Aunt Susan: Serves them right. They shell out bullshit all the time. It's about time they get something right. November 5, 2020, 2:56 PM Uncle Ken: If we are talking about Nevada, I wouldn't bet on it you know? Just sayin Joe: Li and I have put together the same document but for all of the other remaining states except NC. Looking very good for Biden in most cases. The Georgia 2.0 tab is especially interesting because it shows what percentage Biden needs of all remaining votes in order to win in Georgia, right now its 64%, up from 63% earlier today. Uncle Ken: You selling cliff notes for these things? Joe: Li and I are running the numbers all sorts of way, we aren't feeling great about Georgia right now. We took a weighted average of the outstanding votes and their counties, and the margin is 55%, which we could safely expect to go up to 58.58% with a mail-bump. He needs a 64% margin on the remaining votes to win the state. It's not unreasonable that he could get a 8% or 9% bump from the mail-in, but his lead isn't as safe as it seemed yesterday night. That said, Pennsylvania in an amazing feat may end up getting to a callable point tonight, which would mean the end of things so long as Arizona holds. Cousin John: Wait, if Pennsylvania goes Biden, Arizona isn't needed, no? Joe: Good point, that may be the case. Joe: Biden can get 270 with just Pennsylvania right now? Yes, that is definitely possible Joe: I closed my electoral tab, shit. Joe: Yes, he can. He'll be at 273. Uncle Ken: Don't be so closed tab minded joe Joe: lol Joe: Georgia still may matter a lot for the senate. Uncle Ken: Biden getting 80% of votes in Philadelphia. Difference down to 90k. Maybe over tonight Joe: Over the past couple hours, 6,233 votes have been counted in Georgia. 4,736 went to Biden, which is 75%. This is absurdly good news. There are only 41,000 outstanding votes in Georgia. We think it's reasonable for Biden to take about 65-75% of them. That puts him in the lead in Georgia. Joe: The difference now in Georgia is only 9,525 votes. Joe: And there's 41.000 outstanding. Joe: And over the past couple of hours, Biden has gotten 75%... Joe: I hope this is hitting home. Uncle Ken: Heard Netflix has cancelled next season of Celebrity President. Anyone else seeing this? Cousin John: It's hitting, but I'm still knocking on wood Joseph Joe: A lot of that latest drop was from Fulton county, mostly democratic, but some were from republican counties, which destroyed their margins for Trump. Cousin John: When you say destroyed, do you mean in a good or bad way for Trump? Joe: there's also a ton of Trump counties which are now confirming that they have now counted all of their ballots, removing them from the equation. Joe: I mean in a bad way for Trump. Look at Morris county there. 4,000 new ballots were counted, and due to those ballots, Trumps margin plummeted from 54% to 44%. This means that even in those highly republican counties, there was a nice influx of democratic votes. Cousin John: WoW. Joe: Between Georgia and Pennsylvania, I'm hoping that I can finally stop this madness and a winner will be called tonight. Cousin John: But if Georgia is called, it's not necessarily a win because Arizona technically isn't called yet, right? Uncle Ken: 326k left to be Counted in PA. Biden will win PA. This race is over. Labbate is calling it Joe: Both the AP and Fox have called Arizona for Biden, but it's not unanimous. Joe: That said, it's increasingly likely he'll win Nevada, and then he doesn't even need Arizona. Auntie Toni: I'm just tracking this text chain..my only source! Joe: Works for me. I'Il accept donations to Bernie Sanders when it's all over. Uncle Ken: Thought this was an unbiased source? Uncle Ken: Lead in PA down to 78k. Trump to speak at 6:30. Should be interesting Cousin John: Is trump speaking now? Cousin John: Oh wait, I see. Soon I guess. Dad: He's speaking now. MSNBC cut away within 1 minute because he was exploding with lies Joe: I've been watching Fox. Joe: Yeah, he's on CNN too Uncle Ken: What happened to free press? Can't support the censorship no matter what lies he may be spewing Joe: MSNBC is hardly press. Mom: A free press also gives them the right NOT to give the floor to someone who they believe isn't being truthful. Joe: We're down to less than a 4.000 vote differential in Georgia Cousin John: Joe, what just happened in Georgia? Joe: We got more results in. I'm figuring out which counties noW. Uncle Ken: Devil went down Cousin John: And in Pennsylvania? I saw Trump's lead get cut by ten thousand Cousin John: Let me know. Joe: Chatham county in Georgia was responsible for this new jump. We're down to 23.000 votes. The new votes that just came in, Biden one them 67%. He needs to win the remaining ones 62% to take the crown. Cousin John: Okay, thanks. Crazv. Joe: Chatham is the county that they tried to sue about the votes being added that were late. Joe: I think the republican counties may be running out ballots to find, so I think these 23,000 remaining are probably in democratic counties. I think as the updates come in, they might go more and more to Biden. I wouldn't be surprised if we see 67% or higher on update #4 Joe: Ok, I'm calling Georgia for Joseph R Biden!!!! Cousin John: According to the NBC map, at least for the counties I have looked at, there's only one or so counties in Georgia that are red that have less than 99% land the one county that I saw had only a few thousand votes). The ones that still have 95% or so votes counted are the blue counties, including the ones around Atlanta. Cousin John: Okay Joe, start knocking on wood. November 5, 2020, 9:03 PM Joe: The last drop in Georgia was 1,319 votes about 90 seconds ago. 87.49% went to Biden. It is looking very good. Joe: Pennsylvania is starting to look very good with our model. Joe: In the last couple hours, our model has gone from projecting a 50,000 vote loss for Biden to a 9,000 loss. With about 300,000 votes to go, and the last drop of 17,295 votes, 72% going to Biden, that is very strong for Biden. Joe: New data in for Georgia. 1,902 new votes, 79.43% went to Biden. Only 1083 votes now separate Biden and Trump. 0.044%, still 13,775 left to count. Biden is about to officially win Georgia. Cousin John: Knock. On. Wood. Joe: Correction, it's 1902 votes that separate them. Very close. Cousin John: Okay, I was about to say I didn't see that update to 1083. Joe: It's down to 1.797 now. Joe: As expected, it's looking incredibly good for Biden in Georgia. November 6, 2020, 12:38 AM Joe: If this person (Brendan Keefe) hadn't gone to sleep, we might have known the outcome of Georgia tonight. Joe: Spoke too soon, trickling in from the remaining counties literally just now, after hours of waiting. 144 new votes, 85% went to Biden. 11,954 left to come in. Margin is 1,709 votes. Joe: Margin in Pennsylvania is almost gone. Trump up by 18,229 votes. By the time you read this, Biden will be ahead in Pennsylvania. Joe: Georgia margin is just 1,267 now. All of this is painfully slow. Joe: That's 90.4% going for Biden. You can see now hopefully why I've called it for Biden. Cousin John: This is crazy. That spread is nuts. Joe: Makes sense given what the existing breakdown is for Clayton. Cousin John: About twenty minutes ago, I was looking at the NBC county reporting percentages from Georgia. Out of the counties that still have significant counts to report, only two were in favor of trump. Those two, compared to the four or five Biden favoring counties (or more, I don't remember the exact number), had smaller populations than the Biden counties I am comparing them with here (for the most part). Cousin John: Clayton is where John Lewis was from, wasn't it? Joe: Didn't realize John Lewis was from the area, he was the 5th district, which is based in Fulton (nearby) with parts of Clayton though. Cousin John: Someone being interviewed on CNN put it as "poetic" for that county to flip Georgia to Biden in the year of his passing. Cousin John: I think that would be pretty beautiful. Joe: And another one. 665 difference for Georgia. Georgia my friends, is about to flip. Joe: CNN is losing their mind right noW. November 6, 2020, 4:32 AM Joe: And here it is. 4:32am, November 6th. 1.824 votes were just added. 87% of them went to Biden. Biden is now 🎉WINNING🎂 Georgia by a margin of 917 votes. I think Biden's margin will grow throughout the day. And just like that, Trump is toast. Even if he manages to win every other state: Arizona, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Alaska, the last delegate from Maine, and North Carolina, an exceedingly unlikely scenario, he will only get to 269 votes. If they both tie at 269, the president I believe is determined by the house and the vice president by the senate. The last time Georgia went for a democrat was 1992. Joe: And in a beautiful moment: "the community flipping the switch from red to blue in Georgia was represented by the man who spent his life fighting for the right to vote. Rep John Lewis spent 34 years serving #ClaytonCoGA in Congress." Auntie Toni: Just woke up! This is insane. Joe: I think Biden is going to win Georgia by about 4,000-6,000 votes. Joe: I'm less confident about this prediction, but I think Biden may win 306 to 232. Trump won in 2016 at 306 to 232. Joe: In the next 2 hours or so, it's also likely that Pennsylvania will flip to Biden, but I'm going to take a break from the reporting now 😉 Uncle Ken: Night! Thanks for your dedication to the craft! November 6, 2020, 8:58 AM Joe: The Decision Desk (the source of all of this early data) has just called Pennsylvania, and the entire election, for Biden. Congrats, we got em. November 7, 2020, 11:29 AM Joe: Surprising nobody, in case it makes you guys feel better, CNN has called it all for Biden.