Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is an honorary associate at the University of Melbourne. His work on electoral matters for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.
In the FiveThirtyEight poll aggregate, Donald Trump’s ratings with all polls are 40.3% approve, 55.6% disapprove (net -15.3%). With polls of registered or likely voters, Trump’s ratings are 40.9% approve, 55.1% disapprove (net -14.2%). Since my article three weeks ago, Trump has lost about one points on net approval. While Trump’s approval has continued to drop, his disapproval has fallen a point from a peak last week.
The latest FiveThirtyEight national poll aggregate gives Joe Biden a 50.3% to 41.2% lead over Trump. Most polls at this stage give voting intentions based on registered voters, but Republican-supporting demographics have historically been more likely to vote, hence FiveThirtyEight adjusts registered voter polls a little in Trump’s favour. Three weeks ago, Biden’s lead was 9.6%.
Where there have been few recent polls of a state, FiveThirtyEight adjusts that state’s polls for the national trend. In the key states that are likely to decide the Electoral College, Biden remains well ahead. He leads by 9.1% in Michigan, 7.7% in Pennsylvania, 7.6% in Wisconsin and 6.8% in Florida.
If Biden wins all the states carried by Hillary Clinton in 2016 (232 Electoral Votes), he needs another 38 EVs to reach the 270 needed to win. If Biden wins Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin (46 total EVs), he wins the election with at least 278 EVs.
The issue for Biden is that the tipping-point state in the Electoral College is still about 1.5% better for Trump than the national polls. In 2016, the tipping-point state was 3% better for Trump than the national popular vote. If Trump were able to hold Biden’s national vote margin to under five points, and make bigger gains in the Midwestern swing states, he could still win the Electoral College.
Trump’s general behaviour offends well-educated voters, and they were always likely to vote for an alternative. To compensate, Trump needed the support of voters without high educational attainment. Had the coronavirus faded well before the November 3 election, and an economic rebound was on track, such an outcome would have been plausible.
However, the last few weeks have seen record numbers of daily cases set, then exceeded a short time later. On both July 10 and July 15, over 70,000 new US coronavirus cases were recorded.
Despite the surge in cases, daily coronavirus deaths had generally been decreasing until about ten days ago. But it takes time for patients to go from showing symptoms to death, and it also takes time for states to process the paperwork. US daily coronavirus deaths are rising again, with almost 1,000 recorded on Wednesday. It is likely they will increase further.
With coronavirus such a huge crisis, the candidate seen as best able to handle it is likely to win, and at the moment that’s Biden. In a terrible Quinnipiac poll for Trump, in which he trailed Biden by 15 and had a -24 net approval, Biden led on the coronavirus by 59-35, and Trump’s net approval of handling of coronavirus was -27. By 67-30, voters said they did not trust information about the coronavirus provided by Trump, while by 65-26 they trusted information provided by Dr Anthony Fauci. Picking a fight with Fauci appears to be dumb.
As I wrote in a recent Conversation article, the June US jobs report was good, but there’s still a long way to go to reach employment levels that would normally be considered poor. The coronavirus surge is likely to derail any economic recovery.
In the battle for the Senate, the RealClearPolitics Senate map currently shows 47 seats where Republicans are ahead, 46 with Democrats leading and 7 toss-ups.
Polish and Croatian elections
Owing to lack of elections, Wednesday’s article about the recent Polish and Croatian elections is the first I’ve published on my personal website since February. In the Polish presidential election, the candidate aligned with the economically left but socially conservative Law and Justice party won narrowly. In Croatia, the conservatives won easily in a disappointing result for the left.