Swing State Pres

Monday, August 24, 2020

BTRTN 2020 Presidential State-by-State Snapshot: Biden Continues to Rule

Tom with a BTRTN update of the 2020 presidential race...not a prediction, just a “snapshot” of where the race stands right now, and how it might turn out if Election Day were held today.

THE LEAD

·        Since our last report in early July, the dynamics of the race are remarkably unchanged.

·        Joe Biden continues to lead Trump in most swing states, and is running neck-and-neck with him in the others; Trump does not have a statistically significant lead in any swing state, including those he won rather easily in 2016 such as Ohio and Texas.

·        Trump continues to stumble in his handling of COVID-19, continues to have trouble “defining” Biden as effectively as he demonized “Crooked Hillary,” and has sought to shift the spotlight to    the fraud potential of mail-in voting, a baseless charge.

·        According to our BTRTN model, if the elections were held today, Biden would have an 81% chance of winning the presidency, nearly identical to the 82% probability we saw in June.

·        Keep in mind that this assessment makes no attempt to adjust for the unpredictable conditions that surround the actual balloting, including the likely sharp increase in mail-in voting due to the coronavirus, Trump’s attempt to delegitimize and depress mail-in voting, and his potential challenges to a losing outcome.


WARNING:  No matter how good the numbers look at any given time, the Democrats will not win any election, and especially the presidential election, unless they work hard to earn it – registering voters, calling, texting, donating – throughout the summer and fall, up to and including Election Day.


THE LAST MONTH

Since our last look at the presidential race on July 1, the devastation of the coronavirus has continued unabated, and for all of Trump’s efforts at deflection, global attention remains first and foremost on the pandemic, and the Unites States’ unfathomably anemic response to it. 

Trump has run through his bag of tricks – his standard litany of COVID talking points.  That “the China Virus” is all China’s fault, along with the WHO.  That his response has been fantastic.  That the second surge of cases since late June has been driven solely by an increase in testing.  The U.S. deaths are “the lowest.”  That the economy is on the rise.  The only break in these mantras occurred in late July when Trump briefly adopted the sober tone of a realist, declaring that we “had a long way to go,” and finally donning a mask in public and encouraging the American public to do the same.  But that brief contact with reality lasted only a few days, and since then, he has been back to the mantra, as well as hyping hydroxychloroquine (groan) and a new miracle cure from Mr. Pillow.

It isn’t working.  Public attitudes towards Trump’s handling of the coronavirus remain overwhelmingly negative, and continue to fall, now running 58% disapproving to 39% approving, according to fivethirtyeight.com.  Trump’s overall approval rating remains stuck in a losing zone, in the low 40% range, where no president has ever won reelection.  And his low standing in national and swing state polls versus Joe Biden remains unchanged.  No one, apart from his base, is buying his story, and his insistence on sticking it to it is defying Einstein’s theory of insanity (“doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”).

Trump’s other approach, beside the mantra, has been the classic “misdirection,” fixing one firestorm by creating another.  Getting COVID out of the headlines has been understandably difficult, but Trump did manage one major headline-grabber – though it may end up backfiring.   He has spent a good part of the month lying about mail-in ballots and their alleged susceptibility to fraud, a claim with utterly no basis in fact.  His attack on mail-in voting has nothing, of course, to do with fraud and everything to do with partisanship.  GOP voters are far more likely to vote in-person than Democratic voters (as they downplay the virus, following Trump’s lead); Democrats are far more likely to vote by mail.  Trump’s “data point” in the fraud claim is focused on a set of recent New York State primaries that were 100% mail-in and did indeed take a very long time to count, but there has never been any suggestion of fraud in those races, and the outcomes, albeit delayed, were not contested.

More troubling than even Trump’s lies have been the actions of the new Postmaster General, a lackey named Louis DeJoy.  DeJoy, a businessman and major Trump donor, has directed a series of cost-cutting measures that have dramatically reduced postal delivery times and threatened the ability of the system to return mail-in ballots in time for state deadlines to be counted.  The backlash has been so strong that DeJoy has already committed to halting the measures until after the election, and the spotlight that has been turned on returning ballots on time could actually help Democratic turnout.  Indeed, the net effect of the entire drama – and what GOP governors fear – is that Trump’s relentless focus on delegitimizing mail-in voting will be to dampen GOP turnout overall.  This is why Trump suddenly declared the mail-in balloting was “great” in Florida, because Florida is “different from the other states” in large part because it has “got a great Republican governor.”

Trump is also having trouble defining Joe Biden, although in this instance it is not for lack of different approaches.  The first effort was to paint his rival as “Corrupt Joe,” smearing him through his son, Hunter, and alleged (and unproven) charges of undue influence relating to Burisma, the Ukrainian energy company on whose board the younger Biden served.  This gave way to “Sleepy Joe,” portraying Biden as a doddering, senile septuagenarian, again despite all evidence to the contrary.  This effort fizzled when Trump himself began behaving like a doddering, senile septuagenarian, gingerly traversing stair steps, slurring his words, and bragging about his own cognitive testing in which he correctly identified an elephant and endlessly repeated the mystifying phrase that, in his view, proved his intellectual chops:  “Person - Man – Woman – Camera – TV.”

That has given way to the latest effort, to link Biden to the progressive wing of the Democratic Party – yes, the Democrats that actually dislike Biden and vastly prefer Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.  This is tough sledding given’s Biden’s track record as a moderate.  The Biden campaign clearly recognizes this new effort and, if the Democratic Convention is any indication, is not falling for it.  Progressives were given little air-time during the four-night affair, and progressive idol Alexandria Ocacio-Cortez was given a mere 90 seconds the entire week.  (In another time, she might have been the keynote speaker as a clear “rising star” of the party.)

As for the Biden campaign, it continued with its winning strategy thus far, a low profile effort designed mainly to keep the channel tuned to Trump as he futilely defended his pandemic effort, extolled a fictional booming economy, and incessantly repeated “Person - Man – Woman – Camera – TV.”

The big news, of course, was Biden’s selection of former rival Kamala Harris to the ticket as Vice-President, which proved to be a hit.  Harris was the longtime favorite of the Veepstakes, given her status as the most experienced person of color in the field (apart from perhaps Susan Rice, who is a diplomat, not a politician by trade).  Biden wisely chose to wage a very lengthy and in-depth selection process, keeping his campaign in the news, but with the spotlight not on him, but rather on the absolutely stunning field of contenders.  The country was introduced to roughly a dozen women from different geographies, levels of government, and wings of the political spectrum, reinforcing the diversity of the Democratic Party and showcasing its next generation of leaders.  This was a brilliant stroke.

By the time the vetting was done, it remained for Biden to do the obvious – make the safest, least controversial choice, and picking the favorite so that the focus could go back on Trump.  Harris thus assumed the mantle of “the future of the party” and quickly proved her campaigning prowess and her readiness for battle, and the stage was thus set for the Democratic Convention.  It is a testament to the campaign and perhaps to our times that the historic selection of the first woman of color to a major party ticket was viewed as a "safe choice."

The convention – whose impact is not reflected as yet in any of the polls or data you will see summarized below – was a tour de force.  The Democrats seized the unfortunate circumstances that led to a virtual convention and turned it into a triumph.  The multi-night show was brilliant, featuring real people telling their stories, the breadth and dynamism of our diverse America, the new wave of rising stars, and sensational headline efforts by Michelle and Barack Obama.  It all culminated with Joe Biden smashing the myth of his frailty with a powerful speech contrasting the “light” of his candidacy with the darkness of Trump’s times – and reinforcing the decency, empathy and resilience he has demonstrated in a lifetime full of personal pain and public service.


THE SWING STATES

We have identified 14 swing states (plus the District of Columbia and two districts, one in Maine and one in Nebraska) that will determine the outcome in November.  These 17 voting entities comprise 203 electoral votes “in play.”

Biden can already count on 210 electoral votes from 16 “blue wall” states (plus DC and another Maine district), while Trump is good to go (we think) in 20 states (and two Nebraska districts) that comprise 125 “red wall” electoral votes.  We say “we think” because some of those states are looking far closer than they did in 2016, and far closer than they should, and may come into play before these 70 days are done.

In the months of June and July there have been 97 polls in our 14 swing states.  Biden led in 74 of them -- just over three-quarters -- Trump led in 16 and there were 10 ties.

But for all of the drama in the news, the net effect of all of those polls on our ratings was minimal.  Biden continues to lead in eight of the 14 swing states by healthy margins, and those states alone comprise 97 electoral votes, more than enough to put him over the 270 mark required to win (210 “solid” plus these 97 gets him to 307).  

Biden leads by +6-7 points in each of the major “flipped” states in 2016, states that Barack Obama carried in 2012 but Hillary Clinton lost in 2016: Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.  And the other two states that Trump flipped, Iowa and Ohio, are toss-ups.

Of particular note – in all 14 swing states, when compared to 2016, current polling has swing well toward Biden.  On average the 14 states show an improvement of +7 percentage points versus the final 2016 margin.

TRUMP VERSUS BIDEN SWING STATE POLLING
State
Electoral Votes
2016 Margin
Current Polling as of 8/24
Current Polling vs. 2016
BTRTN Rating 8/24
Maine
2
Clinton + 3
Biden + 12
D + 9
D Likely
New Hampshire
4
Clinton + 0.3
Biden + 11
D + 11
D Likely
Minnesota
10
Clinton + 2
Biden + 5
D + 3
D Lean
Nevada
6
Clinton + 2
Biden + 4
D + 2
D Lean
Michigan
16
Trump + 0.2
Biden + 7
D + 7
D Lean
Pennsylvania
20
Trump + 1
Biden + 6
D + 7
D Lean
Wisconsin
10
Trump + 1
Biden + 6
D + 7
D Lean
Florida
29
Trump + 1
Biden + 6
D + 7
D Lean
Arizona
11
Trump + 4
Biden + 3
D + 7
D TU
North Carolina
15
Trump + 4
Biden + 1
D + 5
D TU
Georgia
16
Trump + 5
Tie
D + 5
R TU
Iowa
6
Trump + 9
Trump + 2
D + 7
R TU
Ohio
18
Trump + 9
Biden + 2
D + 11
R TU
Texas
38
Trump + 11
Trump + 2
D + 10
R TU

WARNING:  No matter how good the numbers look at any given time, the Democrats will not win any election, and especially the presidential election, unless they work hard to earn it – registering voters, calling, texting, donating – throughout the summer and fall, up to and including Election Day.

This chart summarizes the breakdown of our BTRTN snapshot as of now.  If the election were held today, we see Biden securing the nomination with 333 electoral votes.

BTRTN SNAPSHOT: 8/24/2020
Categories
Voting Entities
Electoral Votes
Total
56
538
DEM TOTAL
28
333
Biden Solid
18
210
Biden Likely
2
6
Biden Lean
6
91
Biden Toss Up
2
26
Trump Toss Up
6
80
Trump Lean
0
0
Trump Likely
0
0
Trump Solid
22
125
GOP TOTAL
28
205

One of the oddities thus far is that the Trump states are all either “toss ups” or “solids” right now – no “leans” or “likelies.”  But that could change, as there are cracks in some of Trump’s “solid” states.  While polling is light in them, some states, such as South Carolina (which he won by +14 points in 2016) and Nebraska (+26), have Trump ahead by only single digits.  It is highly unlikely Biden will make a play for any of these states – he will surely focus on forcing Trump to play defense in Ohio, Georgia, Iowa and to some degree in Texas instead – but those polls must be of great concern to the Trump campaign.  We will keep an eye on them.

There is a chart below that summarizes all 56 races in detail.

WARNING:  No matter how good the numbers look at any given time, the Democrats will not win any election, and especially the presidential election, unless they work hard to earn it – registering voters, calling, texting, donating – throughout the summer and fall, up to and including Election Day.


THE ODDS

If the election were held today, we peg the odds of Biden winning the presidency at 81%.  The swing state polling paints a clear picture, but is just one of many data points that are problematic for Trump, including:

·        Trump continues to have a relatively low approval rating, right now at 42%.  Only George W. Bush won re-election with an approval rating of less than 50%, and he was at 48%, which is meaningfully higher than 42%.

·        As mentioned, the low – and declining -- assessment of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus, with only 39% approving and 58% disapproving, according to fivethirtyeight.com.  Both figures steadily moved in the wrong direction for Trump since March 25th, when Trump was a net positive on this measure at 50/46.  Thus the “net approval” has degraded from +4 to -21.

·        The shattering of Trump’s “trump card,” the healthy state of the economy, by the pandemic – and the potential for the “recovery” being halted by new surges and pullbacks on the re-openings.  Unemployment remains just over 10% and the second quarter GDP declined by just under 10%.

·        The generic ballot, which consistently shows the Democrats ahead of the GOP by 6-10 points, on average about +8 of late.

The factors all corroborate the swing state polling, and confirm that our odds assessment is not out of line with reality.

% Odds of Winning
Biden
81%

WARNING:  No matter how good the numbers look at any given time, the Democrats will not win any election, and especially the presidential election, unless they work hard to earn it – registering voters, calling, texting, donating – all through the summer and fall, up to and including Election Day.

Here is a chart that provides detail on each of the 56 voting entities, the 50 states, District of Columbia, three Nebraska districts and two Maine districts.  The “swing entities” are sandwiched between the two thick blank lines in the chart.

States
2020 Electoral Votes
Past Election Results (Margin D - R)
Swing State Poll Avg
BTRTN Rating
2000
2004
2008
2012
2016
DC
3
76
80
86
84
89

D Solid
HAW
4
18
9
45
43
32

D Solid
CAL
55
12
10
24
21
30

D Solid
VT
3
10
20
37
36
29

D Solid
MASS
11
27
25
26
23
27

D Solid
MD
10
16
13
25
25
25

D Solid
NY
29
25
18
27
27
21

D Solid
WASH
12
6
7
17
14
18

D Solid
ILL
20
12
10
25
16
16

D Solid
RI
4
29
21
28
27
16

D Solid
ME 1
1
8
12
23
22
15

D Solid
CT
7
18
10
22
18
13

D Solid
NJ
14
16
7
16
17
13

D Solid
DEL
3
13
8
25
19
12

D Solid
ORE
7
0.4
4
16
12
11

D Solid
NM
5
0.1
-1
15
10
8

D Solid
VA
13
-8
-8
6
3
5

D Solid
COL
9
-8
-5
9
5
5

D Solid









NH
4
-1
1
10
6
0.3
Biden +11
D Likely
MAINE
2
5
9
17
15
3
Biden +9
D Likely
NEV
6
-4
-3
13
7
2
Biden +4
D Lean
MINN
10
2
3
10
8
2
Biden +5
D Lean
MICH
16
5
3
16
10
-0.2
Biden +7
D Lean
PA
20
4
3
10
5
-0.7
Biden +6
D Lean
WIS
10
0.2
0.4
14
7
-0.8
Biden +6
D Lean
FLA
29
0.0
-5
3
1
-1.2
Biden +6
D TU
ARIZ
11
-6
-10
-9
-11
-4
Biden +3
D TU
NC
15
-13
-12
0.3
-2
-4
Biden +1
D TU
OHIO
18
-4
-2
5
2
-11
Biden +2
R TU
GA
16
-12
-17
-5
-8
-5
Tie
R TU
ME 2
1
1
6
12
9
-10
Tie
R TU
IOWA
6
0.3
-1
10
6
-9
Trump +2
R TU
TX
38
-21
-23
-12
-16
-9
Trump +2
R TU
NEB 2
1
-18
-22
1
-7
-2
n/a
R TU









SC
9
-16
-17
-9
-11
-14

R Solid
ALASK
3
-31
-26
-22
-13
-15

R Solid
MISSP
6
-17
-20
-13
-12
-19

R Solid
UTAH
6
-41
-46
-28
-48
-19

R Solid
IND
11
-16
-21
1
-11
-19

R Solid
MO
10
-3
-7
-0.1
-10
-19

R Solid
LA
8
-8
-15
-19
-17
-20

R Solid
MON
3
-25
-21
-2
-14
-21

R Solid
KAN
6
-21
-25
-15
-22
-21

R Solid
TENN
11
-4
-14
-15
-21
-26

R Solid
NEB 1
1
-23
-27
-10
-16
-22

R Solid
NEB 3
1
-46
-51
-39
-42
-55

R Solid
NEB
2
-29
-33
-15
-23
-26

R Solid
ARK
6
-5
-10
-20
-24
-27

R Solid
ALAB
9
-15
-26
-22
-22
-28

R Solid
KY
8
-15
-20
-16
-23
-30

R Solid
SD
3
-23
-22
-8
-18
-30

R Solid
IDAHO
4
-41
-38
-25
-32
-32

R Solid
ND
3
-28
-27
-10
-20
-36

R Solid
OKL
7
-22
-31
-31
-34
-36

R Solid
WV
5
-6
-13
-13
-27
-42

R Solid
WYO
3
-41
-40
-32
-41
-48

R Solid


11 comments:

  1. Wishful thinking. None of this means anything until after the first debate. The virus is waning and the economy is turning up. Treatment for the virus is emerging and a vaccine is around the corner.Rasmussen has Trump at 51% and the most accurate poll Trafalgar has Trump even in most battleground States. These people got the 2016 election right as opposes to the blogs dependence on 2016 losers.This all before the Republican National Convention that will showcase the Dems sad policies and disregard for the rule of law. Bottom line forward thinkers know the election will be close and right now Trump wins going away.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You certainly sound like a Trump supporter. Treatment for the virus is meager and an EFFECTIVE AND PROVEN SAFE vaccine is not imminent. Not that those facts will hinder Trump and other supporters like you from repeating these falsehoods. The debates are likely to show up Trump for what he is: a stupid, ignorant, loud, lout, who might have been a pretty good used car salesman.

      Delete
    2. Rasmussen and Trafalgar are extremely biased to the GOP and they are far from the "most accurate" pollsters. Neither called the 2016 election correctly, that is just simply false.

      Delete
    3. Just keep drinking the orange kool aid fanboi.

      Delete
  2. Not to mention Trump attacking the postal service and preventing votes from being counted. He will win for sure.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Attacks on the USPS are just riling people up and making them more likely to stand in line wearing a mask and vote in person. People that would have passed on voting this year are getting POed at Trump trying to rig the election and are going to go vote.

      Delete
  3. I think you may want to proofread: nobody else (and even the context of your comments) says "Trump’s handling of the coronavirus remain overwhelmingly negative, and continue to fall, now running
    58% approving
    to
    39% disapproving,"
    BAckwards?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, that one did get by our Army of proofreaders! Thanks, corrected.

      Delete
  4. Like always a clear analysis! Great for us foreigners that are trying to male sence of the US elections.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! Love Iceland, by the way, went there a few years ago and plan to get back at some point! Thanks for your comments about BTRTN!

      Delete

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