Final GW Election Model Project Using Twitter Activity Forecasts Sizable Biden Victory

Biden expected to garner 350 electoral votes to Trump’s 188 in PEORIA Project’s final vote assessment with Biden leading all projections since August

November 3, 2020

WASHINGTON (Nov. 2 2020)— The final PEORIA Project election forecast from the George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management (GSPM) predicts former Vice President Joe Biden will win the electoral vote count for the 2020 presidential election. The predictive model, launched in August, takes into account Twitter activity as well as state-level poll results and other factors, expects Biden will receive 350 electoral votes to President Donald Trump’s 188 electoral votes.

“We're expecting Joe Biden to attain a solid victory in the electoral college, including winning back the three key states of the "Democratic Blue Wall" that Democratic candidate Hilary Clinton lost in 2016: Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania,” said GSPM Political Management program director Todd Belt. “Nationally, we expect Biden to win the popular vote by eight percentage points, a much larger margin than Hillary Clinton's margin of two percent. It looks possible for Democrats to make gains in traditionally Republican states, such as Arizona, North Carolina, and even Georgia.”

The PEORIA Project election projection model began gathering data in early August and released projected results on a biweekly basis. All seven model projections released since August forecast a comfortable Electoral College victory for former Vice President Biden, who never dropped below 300 electoral votes in any of the model runs and always maintained a triple-digit vote lead over President Trump.

"Our model shows that even with the tumult of Twitter included as a factor this presidential race has remained stable since August,” said GSPM associate professor and research director Dr. Michael Cornfield. “In other words, the ‘October Surprise’ of the 2020 election is that no such surprise has jolted the relative standing of Biden and Trump."

The PEORIA Project election projection model sorts states into two categories, “base” and “battleground.” The 38 “base” states and the District of Columbia are considered to be firmly in hand for one candidate. Biden enjoys a significant advantage in “base” state electoral votes with 218 to Trump’s 126. The model identifies 12 “battleground” states that will decide the outcome of the election: Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin. Here too, Biden holds a commanding advantage. The former vice president is expected to receive 116 electoral votes from eight “battleground” states (Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin) while the president is only projected to earn 44 electoral votes from two “battleground” states (Iowa and Texas). 34 electoral votes from two states (Ohio and Georgia) are still considered true toss-ups. The model expects Trump would to receive Ohio’s 18 electoral votes and Biden would earn Georgia’s 16 votes.

The PEORIA Project election projection model considers five variables:

State-level polling, aggregated by state weekly (using polling available on RCP and FiveThirtyEight)

State partisan lean (using Gallup’s state-level party affiliation)

State-level negative candidate Twitter mentions (share of mentions interacted with negative sentiment)

State-level change in unemployment since January 2020 (using US Bureau of Labor Statistics)

National net candidate favorability (using RCP)

This battleground state model is part of the Presidential Prediction Project, under GSPM’s Public Echoes of Rhetoric in America (PEORIA) Project, which strives to quantify how voters react to campaign messages and events. The PEORIA Project website includes full reports for each biweekly projection, as well as a complete explanation of the model’s methodology.

The PEORIA Project research joins a prestigious cohort of GW research related to campaigns and elections. GSPM currently partners with GW’s School of Media and Public Affairs and Department of Political Science to conduct the GW Politics Poll, a measure of public opinion on political and policy questions. GSPM formerly housed the GW Battleground Poll, a nationally recognized series of surveys conducted by a bipartisan set of pollsters, which ended in 2018.