In the RealClearPolitics polling average, Joe Biden has bumped back up a few tenths of a point to a 4.2% lead in the battlegrounds. That is more relevant than the national polls. There’s a good piece in Politico today that I think captures some truth in it. The basic gist is something a lot of people won’t want to hear — had 2016 not happened, we’d all be writing the obituary of the Trump campaign right now.
By any normal metric, Trump is toast and the GOP is losing the Senate.
But these are not normal times and 2016 showed that there is an undercounting of Trump voters out there. There are also some pollsters out there who just excel at really crap polls that skew the averages. For example, I don’t know any pollster this year on either side of the aisle who is putting any stock in Quinnipiac’s polling, but that poll skews the averages. It is, however, offset with Rasmussen, another crap pollster who tends to go towards the GOP.
That is why the averages matter. Likewise, a lot of Republican and Democrat pollsters I have talked to have taken to adding two points flat out to the President’s numbers. So, for example, the Florida polling average has Joe Biden up by 2.1%. Add two points to Donald Trump and Florida is a tied race. So too are North Carolina and Arizona.
The problem for the President is that Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin still have a Biden lead by adding two points to Trump in the polling averages. That, of course, comes back to the question of if the polls are right. I fall back on the position that no, the polls are not right, but the polling averages do a good job of sorting out what is happening and the polling averages and their related trendlines suggest a few things.
First, the polling average suggests this remains Joe Biden’s race to lose and all the speculating about taking days to determine a winner could very easily be a moot point by 1:00 a.m. on Election Night.
Second, the polling average suggests the Democrats are on the verge of taking the Senate, but it is too close to call with states like Iowa suddenly looking more favorable to the Republicans.
Third, the polling trend lines suggest Republicans who were wayward are starting to consolidate behind the President and that is helping him in a few key states, including Pennsylvania, where the President’s trend lines are headed in the right direction. This also means the Democrats have wasted a ton of money in places like South Carolina that could have helped them in places like Montana or Iowa for Senate races.
Fourth, if the race continues in its present trajectory, the GOP could very well see itself lose a few state legislative houses, which will set back the party for a decade in trying to recapture the House of Representatives.
Fifth, the Democrats are set to pick up more seats in the House of Representatives.
Sixth, all the bluster in the press about the early vote is ignoring that these are passionate voters and not new voters. These are people who would have shown up on Election Day and their minds are made up, so don’t think the President cannot overcome a wave of early voting to win.
Seventh, we have one more presidential debate and twelve days to go. The President can still lock-in undecided and wavering voters and Joe Biden can certainly lose them.
But, and this is what you must understand, the President has had relentlessly negative media coverage, but had 2016 not happened the coverage of his campaign would be even more relentlessly negative in these final two weeks of Campaign 2020. The question no one has an answer to is can Trump defy expectations twice?
If you like him, you think he can. If you don’t like him, you think he cannot. I have no idea, but at the risk of pissing off my readers, I think the GOP is running from behind and time is running out to change the trajectory of the race. It is possible but increasingly less probable that they can do it. The tsunamic warnings are still sounding for the GOP and behind the scenes, they know it even as they paint rosy pictures in the media.