2020 Election. Eighty Days Out.
What to watch for on Election Night.
At the time of writing, we are almost within the 80 day mark mark until the 2020 presidential election. This election will be different than most in several ways and has the potential to have a huge impact on the political landscape for years to come. As I type Joe Biden is mounting a bigger lead than ever before in pre-election polling. Polling doesn't equal votes, just ask the 2016 Clinton campaign. It does, however, show momentum. Even the polling in 2016 began to show significant signs of tightening before election day. Thus far, no such luck this contest for Trump. Anything can happen in 80 days. Here is what you need to look out for.
The President up until recently had enjoyed a major polling advantage when dealing with the economy. A Quinnipiac poll released Wednesday (7/22/2020) had Trump trailing Biden on economic issues. A distinct change from earlier in the race
Making the case that a Trump presidency is good for the economy becomes harder in a post COVID environment. Especially with the constant barrage of unemployment numbers coming out every week. The third week in July saw unemployment numbers increasing for the first time since the beginning of the crisis. A sign that the rosy economic picture painted by the President is not going to resonate.
The Trump administration's attempts to downplay the virus in the beginning stages have backfired as the death total is now well over one hundred thousand people. The President has, in recent days, tried to pivot and promote the use of wearing masks in order to stem the flow of positive cases. Time will tell if this about-face will result in the president being able to recover from what many perceive to be a poor response to the crisis.
The Pew Research Center polling has given Biden an 11 point edge on his ability to handle the Coronavirus crisis vs Trump. As the crisis deepens and the caseload increases you could easily see this category as an overall win for Biden.
Given the recent killing of George Floyd at the hands of police and the accompanying protest, race is likely to be a major issue this electoral go round.
Biden has had no shortage of race issues come up during the campaign. Still, Biden is ahead on this issue, currently beating out the president by 13 points. Biden has consistently shown the ability to gain significant support from Black voters despite his gaffes.
States to Watch on Election Night.
Florida went Trump in 2016 by just over one percentage point. This is a hugely consequential state with its 29 electoral votes. Florida has been back and forth. Voting for Bush both times and Obama both times. It is seen as one of the states that are vulnerable as the Presidents margin of victory was small. Couple that with an increasing Hispanic population and you have a recipe the Democrats desperately hope can turn into an election night victory. Prediction as of now – Biden Win
Another Sun Belt State
A state Trump won in 2016 with just over 48 percent of the vote is leaning towards Biden. It's going the Democrats way because of minority voters and older voters breaking from Trump. Biden has been able to substantively cut into Trump's lead among the over 65 demographic as of late. This could be because of some of his more centrist policies vs the other Democratic contenders in the primary. Also, it could be attributed to the older population of the state being the more vulnerable and therefore concerned about the pandemic. Prediction as of now – Biden Win
The Newest Swing State
This may sound crazy, but Texas is in play this year. Texas flipping blue has been the stuff of legend for Democrats for years. It has seemed like a distant dream for the majority of that time. Until now. A recent Quinnipiac poll gave Biden a one-point edge. Still, most polling coming out of the lone star state has had Trump ahead. Albeit by much less than his campaign would like. Especially in formerly deep-red Texas. A changing demographic and declining approval ratings have made a guaranteed win for the Republicans, a battleground state. One they will have to defend with ads, money, visits, and time. A Republican spending campaign resources in Texas is never a good sign. Prediction as of now – Trump Win
Next We are Headed Down South
Also might sound crazy, but it is the same story as Texas. A state Republicans have taken for granted for years is now in play. Like Texas, the demographics have changed. Also, Georgia is home to a large black voting demographic. A group of voters Trump continues to struggle to attract. Prediction as of now – Trump Win
Another Southern Snag for Trump?
North Carolina is going to be an uphill battle for Democrats. Still, there is reason to hope if you are on the blue side of the aisle. North Carolina hasn't gone for the Democrats since Obama's first election in 2008. And other than that occasion it's only gone their way back in 1976. North Carolina has always been friendly territory for the Republicans. The state has trended overall in the way of Biden but as of very recently has had polls showing Trump ahead. If Biden wants to win North Carolina he is going to have to rely on voter turnout being high, especially among minority groups. Prediction as of now – Trump Win.
The Rust Belt
Ohio was a crucial state in 2016 for Trump. It is a state that almost always has the attention of politicians come November. This election cycle is no different. Ohio broke for Trump with over 53 percent of the vote. This is bad news for Democrats. If Texas and Arizona keep Republican strategists up at night, then so too should Ohio for their left-leaning peers. Ohio went blue in both 2008 and 2012 only to be lost to anti-Hillary sentiment and pro-Trump fervor in 2016. Ohio is currently polling at a Biden advantage (as is most of the important parts of the electoral map.) But let us not forget 2016. Ohio also has changing demographics to credit for its recent change to a sort of red state. Its populace is less diverse and less educated per capita than it's nearby peers, demographics the President does well with. In order to survive in this election cycle, Democrats will have to either flip Ohio back or create a firewall with sunbelt states to block the Trump path to 270. Prediction as of now – Trump Win.
A Must Flip
This is a harder sell for Republicans who wish to gain a foothold in the rust belt. Pennsylvania went to the Democrats every election since 1988. Until that is, 2016. If Ohio is enthusiastically joining the Republican party, Pennsylvania is dragging its feet behind it. The 2016 election came down to just less than one percentage point. This is seen by the Democrats as an easier flip than Ohio. Biden's polling in Pennsylvania is strong. With polls consistently showing him having a lead that is well within the margin of error. Prediction as of now – Biden Win.
Another Rust Belt Must Win
Another state that up until this most recent election was trending Blue. Wisconsin went for the Republicans in 2016 by less than one percent. Democrats are hoping that the lack of a strong third party candidate and the Presidents high disapproval will be enough to turn this reliably blue state back to blue in November. Prediction as of now – Biden Win
Overall Electoral College Prediction – Biden 319 Trump - 219
This election is going to be one of a kind. It will take place during an unprecedented pandemic and include one of the most polarizing political figures of our time in President Trump. It is a referendum on his performance in the past four years, but specifically during the recent racial upheaval and COVID-19 crisis. Will the enthusiasm from a base that seems to be shrinking be enough to overcome sagging poll numbers and low approval ratings? Will turnout be drastically different due to all that is going on in our country. For the first time in recent history, people may avoid the polls in mass due to health concerns. This could render polling more inaccurate than ever before. Or maybe not. We will just have to wait one hundred days to find out. See you in November.