With polls now closed in some states, results of the 2020 presidential election are coming in.
On November 3, the day of the 2020 presidential election, the Democratic party nominee Joe Biden was polling narrowly ahead of incumbent Republican president Donald Trump in key battleground states, although his lead had narrowed since earlier in the campaign.
The crucial state of Pennsylvania slipped back into the "toss-up" category when an election-eve poll reduced Mr Biden’s lead in the FT’s average of recent polls to just below five points.
Some of the closest races were in states Mr Trump won in 2016. In five states — Ohio, Iowa, Georgia, North Carolina and Florida — the FT’s polling average showed the candidates within two percentage points of each other.
Other battlegrounds include Arizona, a state only one Democratic presidential candidate has won in the past 70 years, but where Mr Biden led by just under two points on election day, and Texas, where Mr Trump led by just over two points. In Nevada, which Hillary Clinton won in 2016, Mr Biden led by just 3.2 points.
More than 100m Americans cast their ballots through postal and early voting, pointing to a record turnout. In Texas and Hawaii, the number of ballots cast early was higher than the entire vote tally in 2016, while turnout in key states like Florida and North Carolina was already above 90 per cent of the 2016 total before election day.
National polls have consistently shown Mr Biden at a significant advantage. On the morning of election day, the FT’s poll average showed him leading by 8.1 percentage points.
White seniors in particular, a group that helped propel Mr Trump to victory in 2016, have shown signs of disapproval towards the president's handling of the pandemic. Mr Biden holds a substantial lead among Latino voters, a growing demographic in swing states like Arizona and Florida, but some polls suggest he is less popular with Latino voters than either Barack Obama in 2012 or Hillary Clinton in 2016.
The coronavirus has realigned voters’ concerns and behaviour. For recent developments in voter sentiment, see the monthly FT-Peterson Economic Monitor.
The FT poll tracker is based on data from Real Clear Politics. We calculate poll averages for Biden and Trump in each state using an exponential decay formula, which gives more weight to recent polls. We then use these averages to determine whether a state is ‘solid’, ‘leaning’, or a ‘toss-up’. States where the difference between the two candidates is more than 10 percentage points are classified as ‘solid’, while those with a difference of less than 5 percentage points are classified as ‘toss-up’ states. If a state has less than two polls in the past 60 days, we use the Cook Political Report Electoral College Ratings to categorise it. We consider Cook’s ‘likely’ and ‘lean’ states ‘leaning’ in our classification. Historical results data comes from the Federal Election Commission and Daily Kos. For several hours on June 23, we included states with only one poll.
Most states use a ‘winner-takes-all’ method to allocate electoral college votes: the winner of the state’s popular vote receives all of its electoral votes. In Maine and Nebraska, however, the winner in each congressional district receives one electoral vote and the statewide winner is awarded two electoral votes.
US pollsters have attempted to correct methods that underestimated Mr Trump’s support in some states in 2016. Still, many Americans, including supporters of Mr Biden, are apt to mistrust the polls, especially at the state level.
Poll averages are just one way to estimate the state of the race, and can create potential outliers in states that do not have regular surveys. Do you think the polls are making wrong predictions in the most important states? Use our interactive calculator below to select who you think will win each state.
Key presidential races calculator
Joe Biden and Donald Trump each need 270 electoral votes to win the presidency. Most states are leaning or solidly in favour of one candidate, but in some states the race is too close to call. These toss-up states are ranked below, with the closest races shown first. Which way do you think they will vote?
Select a winner in each state to see the potential paths to victory for Biden or Trump
You have not selected an outcome in enough states for either Biden or Trump to secure an electoral college majority. Please choose a winner in more states to see which candidate will get to 270 electoral votes.
Reporting, data analysis, design and development by David Blood, Max Harlow, Joanna S Kao, Emma Lewis, Caroline Nevitt, Ændrew Rininsland, Martin Stabe, Cale Tilford and Christine Zhang. Additional work by Fan Fei, Brooke Fox, Keith Fray, Sarah Habershon, Eli Meixler, Jane Pong, and Aleksandra Wisniewska.