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I posted a “Predicting the Next President” round-up analysis of election forecasts on August 31, six weeks ago.

Did anything interesting happen since then?

Ginsburg died on September 18, and McConnell announced his intent to replace her hours later. The White House hosted a celebration for Trump’s pick, Amy Coney Barrett, on September 26, resulting in at least thirty-four CV-19 infections. On September 28, Ginsburg was buried, and The New York Times released Trump’s tax records. Trump debated Biden on September 29, tested positive two days later, and was hospitalized the following day, October 2. He returned to the White House on October 5. A fly landed on Pence’s head during the vice-presidential debate on October 7, and the second presidential debate was cancelled on October 9 after Trump refused to participate in a virtual format. The Senate Judiciary Committee begins Barrett’s nomination hearings today, October 12.

That’s the short version. Normally, an October 2 release of a recording of the First Lady saying, “who gives a fuck about the Christmas stuff and decorations? …I say that I’m working on Christmas and planning for the Christmas and they said, ‘Oh, what about the children that they were separated?’ Give me a fucking break,” would be THE ONLY headline.

On the day of the first debate, Trump was polling six points behind Biden, 43 to 49. Ten days later, he was ten points behind, 42 to 52. It’s hard to diagnose which had the most impact on that four-point leap: Trump getting sick, Trump hosting a superspreader event, Trump paying no income taxes, or Trump delivering the worst presidential debate performance in U.S. history.

The election forecasts were already leaning hard in Biden’s direction in August. None predicted Trump, nine predicted Biden, and three made no prediction due to toss-up states. Biden’s lowest electoral college count estimate was 268, two short of the 270 needed to win. Trump’s highest was 204.

What are those forecasters saying now?

All but one predict Biden. Only Politico remains with Biden at 268, Trump 203, and 67 toss-ups. Six weeks ago, CNN and Crystal Ball placed Biden at 268 too. Now they both say 290, as do NPR, U.S. News, and Cook Political Report.

How, according to half of the forecasters, does Biden get to a minimum of 290?

By winning Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Arizona. None place those four most pivotal states in the toss-up category. And according to the Real Clear Politics conglomerate polls, they’re right. Biden is up seven points in Pennsylvania, six and half in Michigan, five and a half in Wisconsin, and two and a half in Arizona.

Biden is also up three and a half in Florida. A year ago, half of the forecasters had Florida for Trump. Now six place the state with the toss-ups, and four for Biden.

Biden is up one and a half points in North Carolina, a state that all of the forecasts called a toss-up six weeks ago. Now two give it to Biden.

Real Clear Politics doesn’t list them with their “Top Battlegrounds,” but Biden is up by one point in Iowa, Ohio, and Georgia, and Trump’s lead in Texas is down to two. Biden leads by nine in Minnesota, a state one forecaster still placed with the toss-ups six weeks ago.

According to current polls, Biden and Trump are within five points of each other in a total of seven states: Arizona, Texas, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio, and Iowa, with Biden ahead in all but Texas. Only one of the forecasts considers Texas a toss-up, and the rest predict Trump will win it. Only one considers Arizona a toss-up, and the rest predict Biden. And only one still considers Wisconsin a toss-up, and the rest predict Biden.

Biden can lose either Wisconsin or Arizona and still reach 270. Which of the possible toss-ups states does Trump need to win?

All ten, plus both Pennsylvania and Michigan, states that all of the forecasts predict for Biden.

Can Trump still win?

Yes. But he has only one path: through the courts.

The states and national GOP will fight to disqualify every ballot possible, with mail-in ballots especially vulnerable. Since Democrats are twice as likely to vote absentee, the danger is very real. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled last month that mail-in ballots not placed inside “secrecy envelopes” will not be counted. 100,000 votes could be tossed—placing Pennsylvania back in the toss-up category since Trump won it in 2016 by only 44,292 votes.

He won Wisconsin by 22,748, and Michigan by 10,704.

Biden needs big margins of victory to keep his electoral college count safe.

Even then, Trump is guaranteeing November chaos while states count mail-in ballots. Most can’t start counting until election day, a process that can extend to December 9, the day Congress must have a certified count from every state. Since mail-ins are likely to include twice as many Biden votes, early counts and exit polls could favor Trump—fueling baseless claims of fraud when his leads erode over the following days and weeks

The best and probably only way to avoid that is an election night landslide.

Early in-person voting in Virginia started on September 18. The day Ginsburg died.

Have you voted yet?

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court Justice, Dies at Age 87 - HISTORY

UPDATE: As of late afternoon October 12, Politico predicted Wisconsin for Biden. That means ALL forecasts predict Biden, regardless of how any of the toss-ups states end up.

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