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 FiveThirtyEight’s national aggregate of Donald Trump vs Joe Biden polls, Biden leads Trump by 6.9% (50.3% to 43.4%). This is an improvement for Trump from three weeks ago, when he trailed by 8.2%. In the key states, Biden leads by 7.5% in Michigan, 6.8% in Wisconsin, 5.0% in Arizona, 4.8% in Pennsylvania and 2.3% in Florida.
In my article three weeks ago, the difference in Trump’s favour between the Electoral College tipping-point state and the national vote had widened to three points, but this difference has fallen back to two points, with Arizona and Pennsylvania currently two points more favourable to Trump than national polls.
If Biden wins all the states carried by Hillary Clinton in 2016, plus Michigan, Wisconsin and Arizona, he gets exactly 269 Electoral Votes, one short of the 270 required for a majority. Maine and Nebraska award one EV to the winner of each of their Congressional Districts, and two to the statewide winner. All other states award their EVs winner-takes-all.
Under this scenario, Biden would need one of either Nebraska’s or Maine’s second CDs for the 270 EVs required to win the Electoral College. Nebraska’s second is a more likely win for Biden as it is an urban district.
The US economy has rebounded strongly from the coronavirus nadir in April. Owing to this, the FiveThirtyEight forecast expects some narrowing as the election approaches. Every day that passes without evidence of narrowing in the tipping-point states is bad news for Trump. Biden’s chances of winning in the forecast have increased from a low of 67% on August 31 to 76% now.
While Trump has improved slightly in national polls, some state polls have been very good for Biden. Recently, Biden has had leads of 16 points in Minnesota, 21 points in Maine, 10 in Wisconsin and 10 in Arizona.
Trump’s ratings with all polls in the FiveThirtyEight aggregate are currently 43.1% approve, 52.8% disapprove (net -9.7%). With polls of likely or registered voters, his ratings are 43.8% approve, 52.9% disapprove (net -9.1%). In the last three weeks, Trump has gained about two points on net approval, continuing a recovery from July lows.
The RealClearPolitics Senate map has 47 expected Democratic seats, 47 Republican seats and six toss-ups. If toss-ups are assigned to the current leader, Democrats lead by 51-49, unchanged from three weeks ago.
Coronavirus and the US economy
The US has just passed the grim milestone of over 200,000 deaths attributable to coronavirus. However, daily new cases have dropped into the 30,000 to 40,000 range from a peak of over 70,000 in July. Lower media attention on the coronavirus crisis assists Trump.
In the US August jobs report, 1.4 million jobs were created and the unemployment rate fell 1.8% to 8.4%. The unemployment rate has greatly improved from its April nadir of 14.7%. The headline jobs gained or lost are from the establishment survey, while the household survey is used for the unemployment rate. In August, the household survey numbers were much better than the establishment survey, with almost 3.8 million jobs added.
It is probably fortunate for Biden that the September jobs report, to be released in early October, will be the last voters see before the election. The October report will be released November 6, three days after the election.
I believe Trump should focus on the surging economy in the lead-up to the election, and ignore other issues like the Kenosha violence and culture war issues.
With the election drawing closer, I will do these reports every week from now on.
NZ: poll drought continues
A month out from the October 17 New Zealand election, there have not been any media-commissioned polls since late July. The only recently reported poll is a privately-commissioned UMR poll, conducted August 25 to September 2. That gave Labour 53%, National 29%, ACT 6.2%, NZ First 3.9% and the Greens just 3.2%.
The Greens’ low figure in this poll is very different from a Morgan NZ poll, conducted during August, which had the Greens on 11.5%. That poll gave Labour 48% and National 28.5%. Unless a party wins a single-member seat, the threshold required to enter parliament is 5%.
48 comments on “Time running out for Trump”
Ranked Choice Voting (a version of what we know as preferential voting), is being used in Maine for Congress and may be used for president but is before the courts. It is also on the ballot in Alaska (as part of a top 4 open primary system and campaign finance electoral reform) and Massachusetts.
I am all for it but I wonder how ranked choice would effect elections in close states. On the face of it, you would expect most of the Libertarian vote to go to Trump. That would spell trouble for Biden in places like Arizona and a bunch of others. I guess it could bring more people out to vote. Would niche parties actually get non voters out or just shuffle the chairs of those already voting?
Also, how would they cope with counting in some states where the system is far from modernised and well organised? Especially considering how involved the ballots already are in the US.
The whole system needs a stiff bristled broom through it starting with more states bringing in independent electoral commissions. Although…. the AEC has shown us on occasion in the past and just recently that perhaps their independence isnt all it should be.
Adrian, what do you think of 538’s adjustments to the poll average (demographics, economics and incumbency) to get the projected Nov vote share? Especially say in Texas where the polls show it neck and neck yet the 538 projected vote share has Trump out by 4pts. This does make some sense to me but, as 538 have mentioned in a podcast, the Texas polling average at the time of an election has in the recent past favoured the Republicans by about 3pts (eg, Cruz had a 7pt advantage in the RCP poll average in 2018 but won by only 2.5 and in 2016 Trump was up by 12pts in polling and won by 9).
Sorry Adrian, but you make it sound almost as if Trump is seriously still in the race… Good luck with that.
Even at Scientific American they have broken a long-standing tradition and for the first time they have endorsed a presidential candidate: Joe Biden. Read their rationale here:
The Republicans are now worrying about potentially losing the Senate too and delivering a trifecta to the Democrats… I can’t wait for the November elections…. 🙂
Alpo @ #4 Friday, September 18th, 2020 – 10:49 am
Too soon. Too soon on all of that.
Every day between now and November 4 should be treated as if Trump is ahead 51 to 49. And even if he’s not, it won’t end on the 4th. Trump will run to the courts before he concedes defeat.
[‘Biden lashes Trump over his ‘close to criminal’ COVID-19 response.’]
Nothing much has changed in the Presidential race for several months now, despite all the sound and fury of the Conventions and the election campaign. Trump has tried to shift the focus on to things like the BLM protests, and the apparently improving economy, but things still keep coming back to the two over-arching themes of this election – the pandemic, and Donald Trump himself. And as long as that remains the case, Trump will surely lose, and probably by a significant margin.
In terms of the Electoral College, Joe Biden has probably now banked 258 EVs, and Trump 187, leaving us the swing states of Arizona (11 EVs), Florida (29), Georgia (16), North Carolina (15), Pennsylvania (20), and the two at-large EVs in Nebraska and Maine. Of these, Biden has been consistently ahead by a margin outside the standard margin of error (ie 5%+) for some time in Arizona and Pennsylvania, and has enjoyed a smaller, if consistent lead in Florida, while Biden remains competitive in both Georgia and North Carolina, and quite possibly also in Iowa, Ohio and Texas. Trump really can’t boast any lead of significance in any battleground state.
The likelihood is that Biden will end up sweeping the battleground states, and be close enough to 400 EVs once all the counting is done. There are a few caveats on this of course: Republicans have for years games the system in their favour, with voter suppression, such as limiting polling places, purging voter rolls, voter ID laws, banning ex-felons from voting, and making it hard for students, and more recently neutering the USPS to underminming voting by mail. Turn-out is everything in the US of course, and it remains to be seen whether these polls translate into actual votes, and in the right places, and in the midst of a deadly pandemic, but most indications suggest that the anti-Trump forces are sufficiently motivated.
As for Congress, I don’t think there’s any doubt that the Democrats will retain control of the House, and they are firming as a very chance of winning the Senate as well. Assuming that Doug Jones losing in Alabama, the Dems require a net gain of four seats (plus the Vice-Presidency), which they look like getting in Arizona, Colorado, Maine, and North Carolina, with decent shots of also winning in Iowa, Montana, Texas, and the two Georgia races.
There’s still time for Trump, of course, but with voting starting already in some states, that time is fast running out.
It is not the at large seats that are the closest in Maine and Nebraska. The close seats are the Maine 2nd Congressional District elector (Trump won last time, while the at large seats went Democratic, although the margin was relatively close but Maine has swung a bit away from Trump since) and the Nebraska 2nd Congressional District elector (Obama won in 2008, Trump only won narrowly in 2016 and has a relatively urban and suburban demographic that has swung against Trump).
Thanks Tom. Yes, you are correct of course, and I got my terminology a bit mixed up. I was of course referring to the Congressional seat EVs that apply in Maine and Nebraska. ME-02 (which takes in much of rural Maine) was narrowly won by Trump in 2016, though recent polling suggests that Biden is ahead there by about 5-9 points. There hasn’t been much polling in NE-02 (made up largely of the urban area of Omaha), but polling earlier in the summer had Biden ahead by about 7 points. As it stands, it looks most likely that Biden will win both of these.
The big problem for Trump is that he is running out of time and targets that will consider switching their vote. People have made up their minds about what they think and feel about Trump.
The structural advantage for the Republicans that I didn’t mention above is of course foreign interference from the likes of Russia and China. There is already a fair degree of chatter about the Russian this year, and no doubt the Chinese are also putting the odd oar in. Personally, I’m not so sure that it will quite so prominent this year. For one thing, there is much more awareness of the probable this year, and so the CIA is quite on to it, and anomalies will be much more obvious. It’s also less clear that all foreign interference will necessarily be all in Trump’s favour. For sure, Putin knows a “useful idiot” when he sees one, but the Chines might be eager to have someone a bit more predictable and open to more traditional forms of international trade (ie someone like Biden), and so they might push the other way. In any event, such is a greatly decentralised nature of the US voting system that it’s hard to perpetrate fraud on any significant scale and get away with it.
Biden Bros at CNN and MSNBC have got their excuses ready in case Biden loses. They will blame 1. Bernie Sanders; 2. Russia; 3. Voter suppression and a poorly resourced electoral system.
There will be no introspection by corporate Democrats if Biden loses.
Nicholas @ #12 Friday, September 18th, 2020 – 5:10 pm
Who do you blame when Biden wins!
Trump is not running to be the President. He is running to win a gigantic game. The Presidency is a side show. It’s simply a platform for him to laud over the land. He is running not to be fired, and will do whatever it takes. The electoral gerrymandering in the US is without peer amongst democratic nations. The popular vote is meaningless. Trump will destroy Biden in the debates – not on substance, but on theatre. And it’s that what matters. And the polls will move and the Dems will panic. Today, Biden wins. In 48 days, no one knows.
As opposed to the hardline Bernie Bros who, in a rehash of 2016, have spent the last six months blaming “the establishment” for rigging the primaries against Sanders – which includes your almost-daily entitled tantrums which lack any self-awareness. Seriously, the hard left accusing everyone else of playing the blame game is rich as I have never once seen any of you show a single sign of introspection on anything.
Also, stop trying to make “Biden Bros” a thing. It’s pathetic, cringey and lame.
anyyyyyy day now…
The Biden supporters at CNN, MSNBC, the Washington Post and other establishment media are cringeworthy in their efforts to promote Joe Biden. Here is an interesting sample of their fawning attitude:
This is pretty cringey: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7IK8k6_9CV0
The Democratic Party has been using aggressive legal tactics to remove Green Party candidates from the ballot in Montana and Texas. Hmmmmm. The Democratic Party claims to be against disenfranchising voters.
Trumps entire presidency has been theatre. Why would a few debates this late in the cycle make any difference.
Nicholas @ #19 Friday, September 18th, 2020 – 6:24 pm
I always use aggressive legal tactics when I drive my car. Keep within the speed limit, use my indicators when switching lanes and stay on the correct side of the road. I know these tactics upset those of other political persuasions. But, damn, I believe in law and order.
What say you!
My soccer team uses aggressive tactics by expecting the referee to foul the other side for handling the ball.
I see Nicholas is barracking for a Trump victory again. Understandable, ascot will allow him to say “I told you so” for the next four years. Which of course is all that matters in the end.
Irrational ‘leftist’ describing democratic socialists as ‘hard left’ and other right wing cold war labels, says all you need to know about his ideology.
Biden still 6.6% ahead nationally: https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/polls/president-general/national/
A+ rated Marist College poll has Biden out by 9 (for likely voters) in head to head with Trump. It drops to a lead of 7 when they include the anti-climate change, environment destroying, social order-wrecking US Greens party.
Trump is spending hundreds of millions in trying to claw back a few percent off Biden, but with the US Greens he has a friend that does it for free.
Arrogant centrists such as Joe Biden need to learn how to appeal to voters’ economic interests instead of relying on vote-shaming and vapid cultural appeals with no economic policy that would help those voters.
They need to focus on issues such as Medicare-For-All, a Green New Deal, full employment, higher wages, and stronger workers’ rights. They are not entitled to anybody’s vote. If they continue to put the wealthy and the politically connected above everyone else then they don’t deserve to win elections.
They are the reason why Trump is President in the first place.
There have been no A rated polls released for Ohio since June (or end of July if you include YouGov) . Ohio would be considered on the outer of achievable for Biden but certainly still achievable. And it is 18 EVs. And the popular exGov Ohio Republican has backed Biden. And there have been recent scandals involving Ohio Republicans. And those polls back in June showed Biden slightly ahead. And Ohio one of those states Biden was picked as Dem candidate. This is where he is expected to gain ground on Clinton 2016.
So why no recent quality polls in Ohio?
Also, Ohio is a fast counting state. Early votes are precounted and released just after polls close leaving only ballots still in the mail. It is entirely possible that the state will be called on election night unless it is really really close. If Ohio is called for Biden early it calls the whole election there and then, making it harder for Trump to cling on and hissy fit his way to chaos. Even if Ohio isnt called because it is too close, that still indicates Trump is all but done.
So, Dems need to plough money and time into Ohio. And pollsters need to give us some idea if it is working.
I dont think Nov3 is the time to teach Biden a lesson.
I wish Biden’s policy on the environment and climate change was stronger. But it is light years better than we have seen in the past in the US and enough to get the global agreements back into something meaningful and enforceable. Enough for US voters to see the change away from fossil fuels isnt going to take them back to the stone age and in fact will advance their interests across the board. Which should allow targets to be quickly ramped up.
As for workers rights, you need to look at his policies on that. No, he isnt dismantling capitalism. But he does have strong policies on workers rights and conditions and pay and if he wins it will be because of people who need those rights – very hard for Biden to back down from them without being wiped out in 4 years and very hard for Congress to ignore his legislative agenda on it. The Dems need Pa and states like this until Texas and Ga etc turn blue. Workers rights and jobs is not something the Dems can shy away from under pressure from Wall St.
I’m more focussed on the US senate races. Alabama will go the other way, but you can count on gains from Colorado, Maine and Arizona. Georgia normal, NC and Iowa are all toss ups and there have been recent polling surprises from SC, Alaska and even Kansas to give us all hope that the US will soon be somewhat normal again.
In a massive development, left-wing Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died.
If Dems win the Senate and presidency in November, the Senate changes on Jan 3 and presidency on Jan 20.
So Trump and the Senate Republicans have until at least Jan 3 to appoint a hard right justice to the Supreme Court to replace RBG. Only the Senate has a vote on confirming judicial appointments.
I don’t know if there is enough time to get a nomination through before election day (I am doubtful) but I suspect Trump will either begin the nomination process or, at the very least, publicly declare his intended nominee before election day, just to get things moving and as an incentive for evangelicals to get out and vote.
So far Romney and Murkowski have both signalled they will cross the floor and vote against any nomination that occurs before Inauguration Day. That’s still too few. Assuming no Democrats cross over (I highly suspect people like Manchin, who normally might cross the floor, won’t vote to confirm anybody in a lame duck period), there needs to be at least four Republicans dissenting (more if any choose to abstain.) If Kelly beats McSally in Arizona, the Democrats will immediately gain a seat in the Senate, post-election but that still only brings the total of dissenting Republicans required down to three (and assumes that those who are holding a “principled” stance on it, don’t change tune if they know Biden is going to be President with a Democratic-controlled Senate.) Of course, if Trump wins the election – in particular, if the GOP also keeps the Senate – then there’s no reason to hold out until inauguration.
Another possibility brought up is that Republicans will wait until the inauguration, allowing Biden to nominate because the Democrats might go all-in if they get control and increase court size and other radical counter-measures. I honestly don’t know if they’re that forward-thinking though and also, any tactic used by the Democrats could also be used by Republicans once they’re in control again (with extra gusto because precedent had been established.)
Either way, I think a 6-3 conservative court is likely for the next term, unless Thomas and Alito drop dead and Biden is in the White House. Also, worth remembering that Breyer is in his 80s, so it could be 7-2 by this time in 2024.
Sigh… it could have been 5-4 the other way…
McConnell promising a vote. What a joke.
I cant see any republicans recognising their hypocrisy and denying Trump another judge.
What isnt clear is how this effects the election. It is probably in the Republicans interest to drag this out past the election. A focus on judicial nominations plays to their extended base, not just Trumps base. It thus may well be in the interests of the Democrats (wrt the election) for the nomination to be over and done with quickly.
But what then? A hard right leaning SCOTUS for years and years. Voting Rights Act provisions, Gun laws, Gerrymandering….. abortion. If the Dems win both houses are we now more likely heading to the packing of the court?
Of all the presidents to have held office, how the f have we ended up with this one getting three picks.
“The Democratic Party has been using aggressive legal tactics to remove Green Party candidates from the ballot in Montana and Texas. Hmmmmm. The Democratic Party claims to be against disenfranchising voters.”
Nicholas I agree with you on a lot of economics but this is nonsense. Removing a particular candidate from ballot forms and removing people from voter roles are two completely separate issues. Adding candidates with no prospect of victory in a first-past-the-past voting system is a cynical attempt to splinter one side of the vote and deny democracy. Any candidate who cannot make it through the primary system on either side should not be there. Period.
If you are concerned about disenfranchisement, focus on the numerous appeal court decisions to legitimise gerrymandered boundaries, deny people the right to vote, and deter or suppress it in other cases. That is disenfranchisement.
“Of all the presidents to have held office, how the f have we ended up with this one getting three picks.”
A good question. Unfortunately IMO one of the main reasons was the disastrous weakness of former US Senate Leader Harry Reid, who was Senate leader from 2007 to 2015 (eight years!), with a Democrat Senate majority. His reluctance to stop Republican stalling and filibustering meant the Democrats failed to get a nominee up even when in government. Reid was a weak man up against ruthless opponents. The last time the Democrats nominated a judge was 2009.
Having Presidents from one party for eight years is the norm in US politics. The Democrats hopelessly failed to encourage Democrat appointed judges to resign and replace them with similar incumbents while they still held office. You have to call that incompetence.
Reid ended the filibuster on lower court justices. The last time Obama nominated (and I presume you mean had confirmed) a judge was 2016. Unless you specifically mean a Supreme Court Justice. But that’s because there wasn’t an opening from 2010 (not 2009 – so you didn’t even get that part correct) until 2016. And Garland wasn’t blocked because of the filibuster but because as majority leader, he had the ability to prevent the nomination from coming to the floor (something which Harry Reid and the Democrats had literally zero power to stop him from doing.)
Words fail me…
this vignette of ginsburg is by ed walker who regularly contributes articles to empty wheel. -a.v.
Ed Walker : https://www.emptywheel.net/
Interesting piece by David Frum in The Atlantic, who raises doubts that Trump will be able to ram through a Supreme Court appointment.
As Frum suggested she might, Susan Collins says the appointment should be “made by the President who is elected on November 3rd.”
All summer long, we’ve been warned: Yes, Joe Biden is ahead in the polls — but so was Hillary Clinton.
There’s one key difference that’s often overlooked, though. Biden is much closer to the magic 50 percent mark — both nationally and in key Electoral College battleground states. That puts Trump in a significantly worse situation, needing to not only attract skeptical undecided voters but also peel supporters away from Biden, whose poll numbers have been remarkably durable.
And the president is running out of time for both.
According to the latest RealClearPolitics average, Biden is sitting at 49.3 percent in national surveys and has a 6.2 percentage point lead over President Donald Trump. That’s significantly higher than Clinton’s 44.9 percent mark this time four years ago, which was good for only a 1 point lead.
It’s the same story in many of the battleground states: Biden is at or within 2 points of majority support in enough states to lock down an Electoral College victory, compared with Clinton’s low- to mid-40s scores in mid-September 2016 in the same states, some of which she would end up losing as late-deciding voters went decisively for Trump.
Holdenhillbilly @ #41 Sunday, September 20th, 2020 – 7:16 am
Maybe, but Biden’s lead seems to be consistently trending in the wrong direction. WTF is wrong with Americans?
a r, It’s the economy, see original article.
538 expect that and allow for it. But Bidens lead hasnt reduced as much as they factored in… it is why their simulations are getting better for Biden even though his lead is shrinking.
It doesnt matter. Trump and McConnell just want the Supreme Court to be in the news. It kinda reminds me of the 2016 3rd debate (Fox) where the questions were all reasonable questions but ones that got Trumps bases juices going.
In fact, it would b in Trumps interest to not finalise the process for the appointment prior to the election. Just keep it in the news and hope all the conservative independents and traditional republicans are thinking SCOTUS when voting and not Covid snd how odious and incompetent Trump is.
I don’t think it will save him this time, but man, this guys life is littered with free passes.
I think that the idea of the Republicans replacing Ginsberg with a conservative will have a galvanising impact on many potential Democratic voters, more so than previously has been the case for potential Democratic voters with judicial appointments.
Simon Katich @ #68 Monday, September 21st, 2020 – 6:05 pm
Thought that was because the simulations/forecasts use the state-level polling rather than the national (since they’re simulating the electoral college)?
Yeah, that. The Dems should hope the Republicans make good on their promises to ram the confirmation through. Removes the Court as an incentive for anyone to bother voting Trump. And adds it as a huge incentive to vote Democrat, especially in Senate races.
ar – 538 have outlined how they get from poll average to forecast. It is fairly straight forward…
scroll to the heading;
They have also given a long explanation of how they come up with the starting point poll average for each state. It is not straightforward.