KEY POINTS

  • A new election model from FiveThirtyEight shows Joe Biden with a 71% chance of making Donald Trump a one-term president
  • If the election were held today, Biden might even win by a landslide
  • FiveThirtyEight's model, however, gives Trump a better chance of winning the Electoral College

Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden has a 71% chance of defeating President Donald Trump if the election were held today, according to the latest forecast models.

An opinion poll analysis by statistical website FiveThirtyEight shows Trump's chances of pulling off re-election stand at only 29% with about 12 weeks to go before the polls open Nov. 3.

FiveThirtyEight said it simulated the election 40,000 times to see who wins most often. The result in seven out of 10 times is Biden.

While Biden is in a much better place at this stage of the campaign compared to Hillary Clinton in 2016, FiveThirtyEight editor-in-chief Nate Silver still warns a lot can happen that might turn things around. There's COVID-19  crisis to consider, as well as the floundering economy.

But these factors and others of similar import likely won't be enough to prevent a Biden win. His lead over Trump is currently larger than Clinton’s post-convention peak. Biden also enjoys more overall voter support than Clinton did at this stage in the campaign.

Silver said the uncertainty in this 2020 forecast of a Biden win stems mostly from the fact there’s still a long way to go until the election. In FiveThirtyEight's latest model, Biden leads Trump nationwide by 8 points, down from 9.6 points in July.

The model shows Biden with clear leads in five of six key battleground states --  Arizona (3.4 point Biden lead), Florida (5.2 points), Michigan (7.4 points) Pennsylvania (6.3 points) and Wisconsin (6.2 points).

Several other key states that could swing the election are in a virtual dead heat. Biden edges Trump by 1.4 points or less in North Carolina and Ohio. Trump leads by 1.5 points or less in Georgia, Texas and Iowa.

Silver said Biden is currently ahead in Florida, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Ohio and in the second congressional district in Nebraska. Clinton lost in all of these areas in 2016. If Biden wins these states while holding on to the other states Clinton won, this margin will be enough to give him 352 electoral votes, more than enough needed to clinch the presidency.

These estimates give Biden more room for error and a clearer pathway to victory. FiveThirtyEight notes polls predicting a Biden win have remained consistent for months. He also has seen a sudden surge in fundraising following his selection of Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., as his vice-presidential running mate.

Silver said if the election were held today, Biden might even win by a landslide. He'd win traditional swing states such as Florida and Pennsylvania and add new states such as Georgia and Texas to the party.

Silver said a Trump victory will require "a much bigger polling error than what we saw in 2016.”

On the other hand, FiveThirtyEight's model gives Trump a better chance at reelection compared to other current models. Silver said a huge shift in the polls from mid-August to Nov. 3 isn't all that rare.

He also said there are reasons to think the contest will tighten. If it does, Trump is likely to have an advantage because of the Electoral College, which delivered him the victory in 2016 despite losing the popular vote.

Trump could lose the national popular vote by 4 points and still win the Electoral College. Biden has an 81% chance of winning the popular vote, 10 points lower than his odds of taking the Electoral College.

Donald Trump is accused of pressing Kiev to investigate his potential rival for the White House in 2020, Joe Biden Donald Trump and Joe Biden go head-to-head. Photo: AFP / SAUL LOEB, Robyn BECK