Wednesday’s forecast, the first issued by FiveThirtyEight since Kamala Harris was announced as Mr Biden’s running mate, gives Mr Trump just a 29 per cent chance of winning the 2020 presidential election.
“While it’s clear that Biden is comfortably ahead of Trump right now – nationally and in most battleground states – the forecast shows Trump with a meaningful chance of winning because there’s still plenty of time for the race to tighten,” FiveThirtyEight said in a statement, adding: “But wait! Should you even trust the polls?”
“Hillary Clinton led in the polls in 2016, right? Yes. But Clinton had only a small advantage in most surveys – Trump’s win was well within the range of normal polling error.”
FiveThirtyEight also pointed out that “Biden’s lead over Trump has already topped Clinton’s post-convention peak,” and “Biden also enjoys more overall support than Clinton”.
2020 election polling is being highly scrutinised after many forecasters failed to call the 2016 presidential race. Four years ago, most major polling firms gave Secretary Clinton a seemingly unassailable lead, right up until election day.
FiveThirtyEight’s data guru, Nate Silver, gave Secretary Clinton a 71.4 per cent chance of winning in November 2016 with Trump on just 28.6 per cent – a prediction that looks a lot like the latest offering.
More than two months out from election day, most commentators and pollsters are predicting that Mr Biden will be the next US president.
They say that the size of the former VP’s lead – coupled with data suggesting that the president trails in most swing states he needs to win – is evidence that Mr Trump will be defeated.
The impact of the coronavirus pandemic, and the subsequent economic fallout, have been put forward as some of the reasons why Mr Trump, who has sought to portray himself as a “jobs” candidate, is tanking in the polls.
Despite dire predictions, the president’s campaign team and staff have been bullish about his re-election chances.
“We’re going to hold an election on 3 November and the president is going to win,” White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, told CBS earlier this month while rowing back on his boss’s suggestions that the November election date should be delayed.
Mr Biden and Senator Harris will make their first appearance together as running mates on Wednesday in Wilmington, Delaware, as the race for the White House enters a more frenetic phase.
The pair are scheduled to deliver remarks just days before Mr Biden formally accepts the Democratic presidential nomination at the party’s national convention which will take place largely as a virtual event due to the pandemic.
The Republican National Convention, where President Trump, 74, is set to be nominated for his second term, follows a week later, leaving a 10-week sprint to the finish line on 3 November.
Ms Harris, 55, California senator and former attorney-general of the state, was announced as the Democrats’ VP pick on Tuesday after a selection process that drew extra scrutiny because of Mr Biden’s age.
The 77-year-old former vice president would be the oldest president ever if he wins, raising speculation that he would not seek re-election in 2024.
Senator Harris, the first Black woman and the first Asian American to appear on a major US party presidential ticket, is the daughter of two immigrants, her mother from India and her father from Jamaica.