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'What-if' nightmare scenarios, polling errors headline Trump vs Biden battle

'What-if' scenarios, polling errors, nightmare scenarios from statistical flubs in 2016 and non toss-up maps are the toast of frenzied US media coverage in the final week before Americans choose their next President on November 3.

What-if nightmare scenarios, polling errors headline Trump vs Biden battle

New York

Polling errors are getting a tonne of attention in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania - the states that sank Hillary Clinton four years ago.

Both Florida and Pennsylvania are emerging as must-win states for Trump in his re-election bid. Seen another way, Trump must carry at least one of the three rustbelt states he won in 2016: Pennsylvania, Wisconsin or Michigan.

Clinton led by 4 points in Michigan and 5 points in Wisconsin in polling averages in those states in 2016, and then lost both the states by less than 1 point.

Where does Biden stand today? He's got a little more elbow room than Clinton did at this point in the race. Biden's up by an average of 8.9 points in Michigan (polling errors in the 3-4 points range). The story is same in Wisconsin where he leads Trump by an average of 7.8 points. Polling error remains in the 3-4 points range.

Polling aggregator FiveThirtyEight thinks Biden could survive a "2016-magnitude miss".

The Pennsylvania conversation gets more intense. Polls were off by more than 4 points in 2016 and Trump carried the state after trailing in final polling by a shade less than 4 points. In the 'what-if' world, Biden's current lead there of anywhere between 3.8 (RealClearPolitics) and 5.1 (FiveThirtyEight) would put this must-win state into the cliffhanger territory.

And, just in on Wednesday morning EST, Trump is inching ahead by the slimmest of margins (0.4) in a poll of 5 polls conducted between October 20 and 25. Polling error: 3-5 points. In other polling averages where Biden leads Trump, the margins are razor thin - less than 2 points.

Here's another data point that's off the charts: As of Sunday, October 25, 60 million people had already voted. That is more than the 47.2 million in 2016 general election pre-poll votes and more than the 58 million in-person and mail ballots cast in 2016.

In two of the six battlegrounds -- Wisconsin and Pennsylvania -- mail-in ballots will not be processed until Election Day, which means counting is likely to go well past midnight. It's the same story in a total of 14 states.

For folks wondering when to bring out the popcorn on November 3, it's likely that the first trends will begin trickling in at around 7 pm EST (5:30 am IST, November 4).

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