A post from CGI member, ThomasB.Fagan...
CGI is RMN's readers forum.
By Thomas B. Fagan
I promised friends I’d review the current situation, so here I am with my first ELECTLINE post since 2018. Out of retirement. The promised thesis will be Trump/Biden and how that will eventually conclude. The usual caveats apply: people die or do something the which eliminates them from consideration. Circumstances out of anyone’s control can occur. For example, in early March, Trump seemed to be cruising and the Dems immolating. The Dems are still doing everything they can to throw this one away, but the devastation of covid-19 has given them a shot.
Let’s start with the bottom line: Trump is going to win, probably with a larger electoral count than last time. Several objective analysts are coming around to this view. This doesn’t have to much to do with the growing perception of Joe Biden as addled, but it is perplexing why the Dems haven’t done the easy work to dispel that view, if it really is false. A quick half hour interview with, say, Chris Wallace could make it clear that Biden is the perceptive, deep, decisive, visionary Renaissance Man the elder party keeps saying he is. Right.
Back to the menu. I’ll make this a short perusal of the current polls and what they mean and what they project. Source Reference will mainly be the RealClearPoliticals compilation of recent polls as they eliminate extremes through averaging, have a strict definition of what qualifies as a scientific poll, and note which are of registered voters and which are the more accurate core of likely voters.
Presently, RCP shows a 6.4% lead for Biden. Biden’s largest lead was 10.2% on June 23, so his lead has decreased by 3.8 points over exactly 6 weeks. This 37% shrinkage has happened despite new spikes in covid-19 and an economic recovery which remains promising but nascent. With 13 weeks to go and the conventions still in the future, nothing is concrete. Trump’s messaging has featured the candidate himself or negative Biden spots. Apparently, the continuing plan includes portraying covid-19 as politically neutral and launched by China, showing the Dems as sycophants of China. While Trump treads softly around Black Lives Matter, a recent poll showed, when Americans are asked to prefer either Black Lives Matter or All Lives Matter, 72% chose All Lives Matter. Expect Trump to slowly inject the theme that Black Lives matter only in the context of All Lives Matter over the coming weeks. The current left response of screaming “racist” at this formulation and demanding that all government functions be premised on the assumption that America is based on systemic racism, with little evidence offered regarding the functioning of this racism does not seem designed to effectively counter Trump’s message. Of course, Joe Biden could come out, campaign vigorously with a coherent and persuasive thesis, showing his acuity of thought and superior ability to make fine distinctions between cultural norms, but then we’re running into the Joe Biden problem again.
Given everything, the economy is expected to be slowly improving over the next three months. Three months ago, I heard several projections that the unemployment rate, which shot up to 18% during the pandemic, was unlikely to fall below 10% by election day. However, the rate is now 11% and falling. Projections now estimate an 8% rate by election day. At that point, Trump could point to the relatively rapid improvement, and point out that the Democrat positions of stringent lockdowns and excessive unemployment payments do not help.
Law and order is now gaining prominence as an issue. Briefly, if Trump campaigns as traditional law and order, gaining unanimous endorsements from police and fire fighter unions, and the Democrats insist that burning down courthouses is protected free speech…well ‘nuf sed on that issue.
Back to the polls. The national polling overemphasizes large (usually Democrat) states. However, the federal government did not create the states. The states created the federal government. In order to get smaller states to agree to union, those smaller states demanded a certain amount of sovereignty. Among those included a slightly disproportionate advantage in presidential elections. They recognized that similar people tend to congregate in proximity, To weld these people into a larger mass required they be given special authority over not only their own internal workings, but in some respects equal representation in national affairs which represent union among the states. Federalism, that is. The two most prominent artifices of this arrangement are the U.S. Senate and the Electoral College. Although neither quite functions as first designed, they still represent mainstays of the federalist principle. Ironically, in essence, the agreement represents a high standard of what the left usually idolizes: multiculturalism. The system allows smaller states to maintain a legal and cultural identity within a union with larger states. Back in 1790, smaller states didn’t want New York and Virginia to decide who ran everybody. Today, smaller states don’t New York and California, and maybe Illinois, foisting ideological Marxism on everyone else through a phony “popular” mandate.
OK, so this gives “swing” states disproportionate power and we have polls in those. Interesting business here. Although RCP currently adds Solid/Likely/Leaning on both sides into lumps and comes up with a 212-115 lead for Biden, not one of those states went the other way in 2016. In the center is a huge 211 electoral votes which supposedly go either way. 191 of those went Trump in 2016, 20 went Clinton. Biden needs those 20 plus 38 more to win. Trump needs 155 from any of them. How likely is a surge either way? States are much harder to poll than nations, often lag, and can magnify false assumptions from faulty pollster assumptions. For example, I don’t know the multiplicity of times Wisconsin was assumed Democrat in 2016 because Wisconsin had gone D seven elections in a row. However, Iowa was always considered competitive. Iowa, by a small amount, had gone R in 2004. Besides that, it had always gone D every election after 1988. In fact, Wisconsin had barely gone Democrat in 2004, also. Three thousand votes would have flipped it. Analysts were blinded by a winning streak when they should know all streaks end. Connecticut, notoriously liberal going back to the 1960s, voted Republican for President for five straight elections from 1976 to 1988. West Virginia and Arkansas, long time Democrat bastions, flipped quickly after the Dems jumped left starting with Gore.
Where do these supposed toss ups lean? Here are the polling trends in all 14 (B is Biden lead, T is Trump), polls are in chronological order:
Wisconsin (Between 6/14 and 7/26): B8, T1, B8, B5.
Michigan (Between 7/18 and 7/26): B12, B9, B6, B4.
Ohio (Between 6/24 and 7/24): B4, B4, T1.
Pennsylvania (Between 7/15 and 7/26): B5, B11. B9, B3, B2.
Florida (Between 7/16 and 7/26): B13, B5, B4, B3.
Georgia (Between 6/20 and 7/31): B2, T3, T7, T1, B1.
North Carolina (Between 7/7 and 7/31): B4, B7, B3, B4.
New Hampshire (Between 1/20 and 7/28): B8, B7, B13.
Iowa (Between 4/30 and 8/3): T2, T1, T2.
Missouri (Between 5/26 and 7/1): T4, T8, T7.
Arizona (Between 7/14 and 7/26): B5, B4, B2.
Nevada (Between 10/31/2019 and 1/20/2020): B6, T2, B8.
Minnesota (Between 7/18 and 7/25): B13, B5.
Texas (Between 6/19 and 7/20): T4, B5, T2, T1, B1.
Several points stand out. The only poll in a state which Trump took in 2016 that Biden’s most recent poll shows him ahead of his first poll is Texas, and RCP still show Trump ahead there. It is hard to believe Trump will lose any state where he currently leads. Some are befuddling. Nevada is incoherent. It hasn’t been polled in seven months and those previous were all over the lot. I don’t see why New Hampshire isn’t Lean Biden nor Missouri isn’t Lean Trump. However, the trend is clear. The two congressional districts which can vote independent of their state ME2 and NE2, are called tossup, but Trump probably will take both. The RCP average includes all the ones noted above. Now, look what happens when you take out the first, the furthest in the past, poll. Florida falls from B6.3 to B4. Wisconsin falls from B5 to B4. AZ falls from B3.7 to B3. GA goes from T1.5 to T2.5. MI drops from B7.8 to B6.3. MN from B9 to B5. You get the picture. Take into consideration that Biden needs to win nationally by more than two points (given New York California, and Illinois are going to give him at least a 6 million vote surplus but only deliver 97 electoral votes). Biden needs 173 electoral votes out of 441 in places where he will lose by over three million votes.
Bottom line; Trump has to assume a position of leadership and control, outlining a clear plan and energetically can plain on a recovery, prosperity, law and order, America First agenda. He also has to avoid the pissing matches with pissants. Be firm and proud, but don’t squabble with nonentities. The worst I saw him was when he passed on scurrilous rumors regarding Joe Scarborough’s relationship decades ago with a young woman who apparently accidentally died. This not only made Trump seem petty, but allowed Joe’s usually disingenuous wife, Mika, to make a credible plea of injury, shouting “go away, you vile man” to some sympathy. Trump has to show he has bigger matters to attend to than answering every low level climber seeing to suck up to the deep state.
As for Biden, the immediate problem is evident. As the great economist and commentator Thomas Sowell mentioned “it’s amazing how many people will argue about things which are factually verifiable”… The Democrat problem is clear, and has a simple solution. Over 60% of Americans and nearly 40% of Democrats think Biden has serious cognitive disability. If they are wrong, the solution is simple: put Biden out there for a week, doing at least one interview a day, with hard questioning and detailed analysis regarding plans for China, the economy, crime, et al. The solution is simple. Unless…
Current projection: Trump to win, probably with an increased electoral vote. Now that I’ve been sacked back into this avocation, expect soon projections on the Senate and House. Be kind to each other (I understand that saying just lost its patent).