Who will win the US election? Our expert predictions shift as hush money trial begins

Our experts tell you who they think has the edge in the race as it stands
Our experts tell you who they think has the edge in the race as it stands - CHP

The Telegraph is asking five experts to regularly predict who will win one of the tightest US elections in recent history.

National polls show Joe Biden and Donald Trump are separated by the finest margins as they are locked in a bitter campaign.

Following developments from the US, our experts will be using their specialisms to periodically plot their likely winner on a sliding scale.

Each time, they will be explaining their decision.

This week’s updated predictions come as Mr Trump’s criminal trial in New York over hush money payment allegations finally began.

Donald Trump is facing some very serious criminal charges. Those in his Manhattan hush money trial are not among them. And while the Republican candidate is by no means pleased to be the first former president to stand criminal trial, his New York case - brought by an elected Democrat who bragged about his pursuit of Mr Trump - is the easiest for him to frame as a witch hunt.

There is no doubt the trial will produce some uncomfortable headlines for Mr Trump, and the White House may feel that every day Mr Trump is the biggest story of the day is a good day for Joe Biden. But a recent poll found only a third of Americans believe Mr Trump acted illegally in the Manhattan case, and Mr Trump is determined to use the media platform of the proceedings to amplify his claims of political persecution.

The White House race may come down to a knife edge, but it’s unlikely to be the Manhattan case that tilts it one way or the other.

Courtroom dramas are likely playing heavily on voters’ minds, as Mr Trump’s lead over Mr Biden falls to its lowest level since October - a minuscule 0.2 per cent.

The outcome of any trial is very unlikely to convince solid MAGA voters to change their vote. Indeed, a recent Ipsos poll showed that a third of Republicans were more likely to support Mr Trump if he was convicted in the hush-money case.

Just ten per cent would support him less - most likely Nikki Haley backers.

But the real impact would be amongst non-aligned voters, a third of whom would say they would support Mr Trump less. And with his lead narrowing in five of seven swing states since last month, the continued presence of the trials could damper his chances.

A foreign crisis and a stirring State of the Union: Mr Biden looks like Jimmy Carter in 1980, temporarily buoyed by chaos and the advantages of incumbency. But even as his poll numbers improve, Mr Trump retains an edge in the electoral college - and so long as the Republican holds Georgia and North Carolina, and is competitive in the rust belt, his path to victory remains clear.

One worry for the GOP is abortion. A new ban in Arizona - likely unpopular - raises an issue that Mr Trump had attempted to defuse. Conservatives will resent his relative moderation; liberals will try to make 2024 a referendum on women’s rights. Not only is it tricky to predict a winner, we can’t be sure at this stage what the presidential election will be about: the economy? Iran? Or abortion?

Mr Trump is finally starting to catch up in the fundraising department, swerving the devastating possibility of an unmatched Democratic war chest.

While the criminal proceedings he’s facing are undoubtedly serious - if convicted, his relatively favourable position in the polls is bound to take a hit - New York provides plenty of opportunities for self-promotion. The true-blue state hasn’t gone Republican since Reagan, but it has the greatest concentration of journalists in the country. The former president will be betting on big coverage to push his message of partisan persecution.

Mr Biden is resurging in the polls, and his latest message is that Mr Trump cannot be trusted with American democracy.

So far, his lead has yet to translate into a lead in the swing states, but his performance on the national stage during the State of the Union address has appeared to be a turning point for the ageing president.

For now, my prediction is that he will narrowly win the election -- perhaps with an even smaller margin than his nail-biting victory in 2020.

As ever, the months between now and November could change everything.


Our experts are asked to plot their decision on a scale of 100, where 0 is a Joe Biden landslide, 50 is a tie and 100 is a Donald Trump landslide.