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Podcast: Our 2020 Election Preview
Chris Spangle and Rhinehold dive into the numbers to see where tomorrow's election stands. What are some good news sites to follow? How should we mentally approach the next few days? Should we trust polls? What are the motivating factors in this election? How can Trump or Biden win? What percentage will Jo Jorgensen capture? Who will win? We answer all of these questions and more. Much of yesterday and today’s emails are covered in this if you’d rather listen than read.
00:16:30 - Sites To Follow
00:38:46 - How To Handle Things
01:07:36 - Do You Trust Polls?
01:17:34 - Two Central Questions of the Elections
01:36:00 - Good and Bad For Both Candidates
02:09:05 - Jo Jorgensen
02:31:02 - Final Thoughts
The Two Fundamental Questions of 2020
The fundamental question for voters in the 2020 race is, "Can you handle four more years of Trump?" Over 57% of this country has consistently said no in approval ratings, the best metric for judging incumbents re-elect. Approval ratings are the best predictor in terms of a Presidential re-elect, and he has been consistently at 43%.
This PDF has a ton of great information. Let’s look at some of the data.
Question two is, "Can you afford more lockdowns?" and “Who will lead on the pandemic?” This has increased in importance as the virus surges while other countries lockdown again. It's why I think Iowa swung so hard in a month towards the President, in my opinion. As you’ll see below, the economy plays less of a role than I expected, and the pandemic is a major key for folks. Depending on which pollster one looks at, lockdowns are very unpopular or very popular.
“When asked what should be the federal government’s top priority, voters are 25 points more likely to rank limiting the spread of coronavirus over restarting the economy (61-36 percent).” - Fox News Poll
In my conversations with my hard-core Democrat friends, none of them are for more government intervention. They want others to show personal responsibility and concern for others. I think people tell pollsters what they think they should say. The long-term catastrophes, deaths, and job loss of the lockdowns are evident. It is evident they didn’t work, either. Most Americans are willing to modify some of their behavior to protect other people, but they’re leery about destroying the li’ livelihood or being significantly restrained.
Indiana is the perfect bellwether of how the pandemic upturns politics. It is an independent state (Obama won here), and my guess for the Gubernatorial race is Holcomb 51-52%ish and Rainwater 15-20%ish. This poll matches many of the other reliable polls done here, so let's use it.
Why is the Republican Governor surging ahead of Trump in a very pro-Trump state despite losing 10% of his base to a Libertarian? The Republican base is punishing the Republican governor for lockdowns, and the Democrats are defecting to the Republican because the Democratic candidate promises a Whitmer-style lockdown. While Indiana had lockdowns, they weren’t close to what MI, NY, or CA have gone through. (This poll is where I predict the IN Governor’s race will finish.)
I guess that if polling were honest, they’d find that people want leadership to take it seriously but not mandate aspects of their lives. Trump’s rallies are seen as a positive, but polling shows they breed resentment and lower his numbers. When people are told they can’t go to work, the gym, funerals, or other meaningful locations, they’re rightly angry. When the President says, “the rules don’t apply to my people and me,” they get furious.
The pandemic may motivate his base as a defensive move to stop more lockdowns, but his lack of leadership will cost him. The moment he ripped off that mask on the balcony, he sealed his fate with early voters. If there is a singular issue that cost him re-election, it is his performance on COVID-19. Americans are tormented by the pandemic and want a way out, and he has little to offer in the way of solutions. He can’t even model the kind of behavior that would reduce the spread (which is the most a free-market-oriented President ought to do besides de-centralizing testing, giving good data, and fast-tracking FDA approvals.
He’s lost on the two central questions of this election.
Shy Trump Voters and Polls
Can we know what happens tomorrow based on polls? I don’t know, and neither does anyone else. Pollsters have certainly learned their lesson from 2016 and have probably undercounted certain segments to play it safe. It is also hard to identify people willing to participate honestly. The “Shy Trump voter” in polls is the great hope for many Trump voters, but it turns out all sides lie to pollsters.
As Jonah Goldberg wrote, it isn’t 2016 all over again:
An average of the final national polls in 2016 indicated a Clinton victory of 3.3%. She won the popular vote by 2.1%—which is squarely within the margin of error. Meanwhile, pollsters called 47 out of 50 states correctly.
Biden is Not Hillary
But… Trump is Doing Well in Registrations
Trump has a Bigger Pool Of Sympathetic Voters In Swing States
Pennsylvania is in play because of that large number of non-college whites, a group he does well with. One more but… Not all of them will vote for Trump, and his margins with white voters have shrunk since 2016.
It is still the state most in play for the President. Nate Silver has said, "Without Pennsylvania, Biden becomes an underdog."
In Pennsylvania, the Democratic Lt. Gov. said on CNN this morning that 50,000 people attended a Trump rally this past week. He said the GOTV there by Trump has been strong, and the momentum is shifting towards the President.
He is also losing seniors by 17 points compared to the last election.
Trump’s one sign of growth is within Hispanic communities.
The trend for Republicans in the coming years is catastrophic. The W. Bush and Trump eras have diminished the GOP brand to a point where America will experience a long period of center-left government. Eventually, they will go too far, and the pendulum will swing back towards libertarian strains of government in both parties.
Another key piece of data is Congressional districts. In 2016, they showed the drift towards Trump.
Most Voters Who Went Third Party in 2016 Are Backing Biden Over Trump This Year - Joe Biden leads the president by 32 points among likely voters who supported “someone else” in 2016
You can check out the main prediction sites here, here, here, and here.
Amy Walter writes, “To win the election, Trump will need to win every state we currently have in the Toss Up column: Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Iowa, Ohio, Maine's 2nd CD, as well as the newest addition, Texas. Even then, Trump would be 22 electoral votes short of 270. He would need to win at least two of the seven states currently sitting in Lean Democrat: Arizona, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Nevada and New Hampshire. Trump carried all but Minnesota, Nevada and New Hampshire in 2016.
At this point, Ohio and Maine's 2nd District are probably the most promising for Trump, followed by Texas and Iowa. If he were to win all of those, he'd be at 188 electoral votes, still 82 votes shy of 270. Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina are pure Toss Ups with Biden ahead by anywhere from 1 to 2 points in those states.”
Trump basically has to run the table.
Charlie Cook is a long-time Election handicapper and wrote a good piece here. Jonah Goldberg also captures a lot of the reasons why Trump will likely lose.
A Final Word to Trump Loving Libertarians
Justin Amash had a killer thread that all libertarians MUST read. No one confuses Joe Biden for a libertarian. He’s pretty much the antithesis of one. Somehow, Trump has fooled a lot of libertarians. Trump is the furthest thing from a libertarian. Here is his record and what he proposes for a second term.
Maybe it was foolish to look at polling to conclude, but what other metrics should I use? My gut? Gut feelings aren’t facts. My Facebook feed? Here at I.O., we respect experts because they’re a function of the free market. So we will go with it.
Given the information above, I don’t see many positives for the President. The polling catastrophe in 2016 was in 3 of 50 states and within the margin of error. The race was clearly tightening, and pollsters were saying they’d miss the white working-class shift before Election Day. That isn’t happening this time. Given the number of states Trump must win, I don’t see how he continues to defy political science. Gravity has to kick in at some point. If Trump does win, then it is due to anti-lockdown sentiments being wildly under polled. It would be the destruction of the polling industry.
Trump’s own continual statements betray that even he thinks he will lose. If I were confident in winning the election tomorrow, I wouldn’t be talking about all of the ways it’s rigged. His ONLY option, in my opinion, is to limit votes and throw up enough fog tonight to sow doubt that snowballs into unrest, allowing him to win. He is outright saying it. But the problem is HE IS TELLING US HIS PLAN. What criminal tells you his heist? A movement built on popularity and power deflates quickly once it is out of power and unpopular.
Biden - 52%
Trump - 45%
Jorgensen - 1.5%
Hawkins - 1.5%
I neglected to mention the power of the irony vote and its potential to upend things. Brian captures it well.
Love the analysis! Only thing I would contest is that the GOP will win the Texas senate race. Beto made big gains in 2018, but Cornyn doesn't have the unfavorables Cruz does, and Hegar isn't nearly as ppular as Beto. I remember the vibe around the state was much more excited and energized in 2018, Hegar is getting drowned out this time around.