Swing State Pres

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

BTRTN Election Snapshot: Democrats' Odds of a Trifecta Continue to Rise Slightly

Tom with the latest update on the state of all the national races. 

STATE OF THE RACE

The political landscape in the stretch drive to Election Day has been utterly upended by the death of revered liberal Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the ensuing GOP rush-to-confirm hyper-hypocrisy led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Or has it?

We’ll see.  It’s very early in the process, no matter how accelerated it promises to be.  We don’t even have a nominee yet and then, we have the whole confirmation circus to get through, likely to be compressed within the remaining election cycle.  This is a classic case of spraying lighter fluid on the already roaring flames of the Biden-Trump election showdown.  If you thought the Brett Kavanaugh hearings were unseemly, they will seem like a friendly round of croquet before this one is through.  It is impossible to foretell the impact all this will have on the electorate, and don’t forget – they are already casting votes.

But as of now, early polling indicates the Republican’s about-face in filling this seat after refusing to consider Barack Obama’s pick (Merritt Garland) in 2016 is not helping them one bit -- and may even be hurting.  There have been at least three polls that indicate the plurality, if not the majority of Americans oppose Trump naming Ginsberg’s successor rather than the November winner – Morning Consult has it at 50/37, YouGov at 51/42, and Ipsos/Reuters has it all the way up to 62/23.  In each poll, the independents reflect the overall figures. 

Trump and McConnell are not expanding the GOP base, for sure, with this tack, and if they are thinking the enthusiasm factor will be a plus to get out the vote, the Morning Consult polls appears to support the opposite.  It is the Democrats who appear to be more energized by the GOP push.  To wit: the percentage of Democrats who said the Supreme Court was a “very important” factor in their election decision jumped 12 points after RBG’s death, to 60%, while the Republicans, on the same question, increased by only four points, to only 54%.  For those more persuaded by anecdotes, today I went to a Zoom texting training session, one of 1,400 volunteers attending this single session.  And, of course, the Democrats have been donating by the bushel since RBG's death, over $100,000 per minute in the immediate aftermath, and over $90 million in the first 28 hours

Trump strategists will argue that the court battle changes the dominant subject of the campaign from COVID-19, a terrible issue for Trump and the GOP (polls indicate that American disapprove of Trump’s handling of COVID-19 by a 56/40 margin) to a more favorable one, filling the courts with conservative judges.  But the Biden camp is already turning the SCOTUS issue into a health care issue, another terrible topic for Trump and the GOP, who have never put forward a plan to replace Obamacare.  Health care (and health insurance) remains a leading issue on the minds of voters, along with COVID and the economy.  Trump, of course, vastly refers to talk about the economy and the courts, while Biden will focus on COVID and health care.

As for the down ballot races, it is instructive to see how the GOP incumbents who are in reelection fights for their political lives are handling the SCOTUS issue.  Martha McSally of Arizona and Thom Tillis of North Carolina both quickly jumped on the McConnell bandwagon, while Corey Gardner of Colorado waited a bit before doing so.  Susan Collins, badly bruised in Maine by her support of Brett Kavanaugh and later Trump in the impeachment hearings, was the first to announce that she opposed the McConnell process.

And what of Lindsey Graham?  Locked in a dead heat with Jaime Harrison in South Carolina, he found himself portrayed, with good reason, as the poster child of GOP hypocrisy, with endlessly looping video of his hard-to-spin statement from 2016:  “I want you to use my words against me.  If there’s a Republican president in 2016 and a vacancy occurs in the last year of the first term, you can say Lindsey Graham said let’s let the next president, whoever it might be, make that nomination.”  Suffice to say, those words are indeed being used against him.

But there is a silver lining for Graham as well.  He will command the spotlight in the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings, as Chair, and from that platform remind conservative South Carolinians that he is dead solid behind Trump and doing his bidding.  And by Graham’s calculus, that is worth a flip-flop, even one of Olympian proportion.

 

THE ODDS

As of this moment, the Democrats have a very good chance of pulling off a “trifecta” – Joe Biden winning the presidency, the Democrats flipping the Senate, and also maintaining control of the House (the latter almost a certainty).

Election Odds of Democrats' Winning/Controlling

President

Senate

House

82%

67%

99%

Electoral Votes

Composition/(Dem Change)

Composition/(Dem Change)

335 Biden/203 Trump

50 Dem*/50 GOP (D +3)

250 Dems/188 GOP (Dems +17)

*Including Independents who caucus with the Democrats.  Also assumes Biden wins the presidency, which would require the Democrats to get to 50 seats to control the Senate.

These odds have been reasonably stable over time, though unmistakably inching upwards for the Democrats.

BTRTN Democrats Odds of Winning

Date >>>

5/9

5/28

7/1

8/2

8/24

9/8

9/15

9/22

Presidency

n/a

73%

82%

82%

81%

79%

81%

82%

Senate Control

59%

59%

59%

62%

62%

65%

65%

67%

House Control

99%

99%

99%

99%

99%

99%

99%

99%

Having delivered this favorable Blue news, this would be a very good time to reintroduce our “warning label,” which should be the mantra for all Democrats. 

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

And remember, this is a snapshot, not a forecast.


THE PRESIDENTIAL RACE

The national polls continue to be very positive for Joe Biden, and have changed little over time.  He remains +7 points ahead of Trump.  Keep in mind when you look at national polls that, given the inherent GOP advantage in the Electoral College make-up, Biden has to be up +4 to be considered truly “ahead.”  Yes, the GOP advantage is that pronounced, as Hillary Clinton discovered in 2016, when she won the national vote by 2.1 percentage points but lost the electoral vote.  But +7 is a very healthy margin, worth an extra 5-6 million votes for Biden versus Clinton; it would be very difficult for Trump to pull off an “inside straight” again, finding those magical 78,000 votes in those swing states, given a margin nearing, perhaps, eight million votes.

TRUMP VS BIDEN HEAD-TO-HEAD NATIONAL POLLS

 

Jul

Aug

wk ending Sep 5

wk ending Sep 12

wk ending Sep 19

Biden

49

49

50

50

49

Trump

41

42

43

43

43

Diff

8.0

7.4

7.0

7.3

6.7

Biden continues to dominate the swing state polls as well.  In the month of September, there have been 71 polls across 14 swings states and two swing districts (Maine’s 2nd and Nebraska’s 2nd), and Biden is ahead in 57 of them; Trump has led in only eight, with six ties.

At this stage, we see Biden with an 82% chance of winning the presidency, up a tick mark since last week’s 81%.  That modest improvement is mostly accounted for by two BTRTN rating changes in the last week, both in Biden’s direction, and both in Maine.

Ratings Changes

From

To

Maine

D Likely

D Solid

Maine 2nd District

R TU

D TU

Biden is thus ahead in states and districts that total 335 electoral votes to 203 for Trump.  At this point, Biden could lose ALL EIGHT toss-up states and still win the election.  Biden has many “paths” to 270 votes, but the simplest one, perhaps, is to keep every state Hillary Clinton won (and he is ahead of all of them), flip Arizona, Michigan and Wisconsin, each of which he leads by a healthy 6-7 points, and then flip either Maine’s 2nd or Nebraska’s 2nd.  That gets him to 270. 

Mind you, Biden, also leads in Pennsylvania by +4, which is worth another 20 electoral votes, and is in essentially dead heats in those 8 toss-ups states.  If Biden swept all the toss-ups he could get to a whopping 413, a modern day landslide.

Trump can only count on his solid base of 125 electoral votes in 22 states or districts.  The rest are either toss ups now or leaning to Biden in various degrees. 

BTRTN PRESIDENT SNAPSHOT

BTRTN Rating

Entities

Electoral Votes

DEM TOTAL

30

335

Dem Solid

19

212

Dem Likely

2

14

Dem Lean

5

63

Dem Toss-up

4

46

GOP Toss-up

4

78

GOP Lean

0

0

GOP Likely

0

0

GOP Solid

22

125

GOP TOTAL

26

203

 

Here is the state-by-state look.

BTRTN 2020 PRESIDENTIAL SNAPSHOT

States

2020 Electoral Votes

2016 Margin

Swing State Poll Avg

BTRTN Rating

Solid Dem (19 states or districts, 212 electoral votes): California, Colorado, Connecticut, DC, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maine 1st District, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington

 

 

 

 

 

Minnesota

10

Clinton +2

Biden +9

D Likely

New Hampshire

4

Clinton +0.3

Biden +6

D Likely

Wisconsin

10

Trump +1

Biden +7

D Lean

Michigan

16

Trump +0.2

Biden +7

D Lean

Arizona

11

Trump +4

Biden +6

D Lean

Nevada

6

Clinton +2

Biden +4

D Lean

Pennsylvania

20

Trump +1

Biden +4

D Lean

Nebraska 2nd District

1

Trump +2

Biden +7

D TU

Maine 2nd District

1

Trump +10

Biden +4

D TU

Florida

29

Trump +1

Biden +2

D TU

North Carolina

15

Trump +4

Biden +1

D TU

Ohio

18

Trump +11

Trump +1

R TU

Texas

38

Trump +9

Trump +2

R TU

Iowa

6

Trump +9

Trump +2

R TU

Georgia

16

Trump +5

Trump +4

R TU

 

 

 

 

 

Solid GOP (22 states or districts, 125 electoral votes):  Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nebraska 1st and 3rd Districts, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia, Wyoming


THE SENATE

The Democrats, of course, need to flip a net of +3 seats, along with a Biden win, to gain control of the Senate with 50 seats (including the two Independents that caucus with them).  With the prospects of holding Alabama looking exceedingly grim, the fate is Senate control will come down to whether the Democrats can flip at least four seats.

Right now two of those potential flips – in Arizona and Colorado – are looking very solid for the Dems, with Mark Kelly and John Hickenlooper, respectively, sporting leads approaching double digits.  And two other potential flips are looking very promising, Maine and North Carolina, where the Democratic challengers Sara Gideon and Cal Cunningham, respectively,are up by roughly 4-5 percentage points.

And, remarkably, the Democrats are putting on tremendous pressure on five other GOP-held seats:  Iowa, Georgia (the regular election), Kansas, Montana and South Carolina.  Limited polling indicates Alaska is close, too, though we don’t quite believe that yet.  And who knows what will come out of Georgia’s special election, which will have a jungle primary on Election Day, setting up a potential run-off in January.

So at this juncture, that net seems more likely than not – we now have increased the odds to 67% from 65%.  Those increased odds reflect positive Democratic movement in three races that have resulted in BTRTN ratings changes as follows:

Ratings Changes

From

To

Minnesota

D Lean

D Likely

Ga

R Lean

R Toss Up

Montana

R Lean

R Toss Up

Our ratings now falls as follows, pointing to a 50/50 composition post-election, enough for the Dems to claim control with a Biden win, with Kamala Harris presiding with the tiebreaking vote.

BTRTN SENATE SNAPSHOT

BTRTN Rating

Current

Flips

DEM TOTAL

50

4

Dem Holdover

35

0

Dem Solid

9

0

Dem Likely

3

2

Dem Lean

3

2

Dem Toss-up

0

0

GOP Toss-up

5

0

GOP Lean

1

0

GOP Likely

3

1

GOP Solid

11

0

GOP Holdover

30

0

GOP TOTAL

50

1

Here is how each race “in play” is shaping up, in a nutshell.

SENATE SNAPSHOT

State

Inc. Party

Dem Nominee

GOP Nominee

2014 Margin

2016  Pres Margin

BTRTN Rating

2020 Recent Polls Avg

Dem Seats not up for reelection in 2020 (35)

Solid Dem (9): Delaware (Coons), Illinois (Durbin), Mass (Markey), NH (Shaheen), NM (Lujon), NJ (Booker), Oregon (Merkeley), RI (Reed), VA (Warner)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arizona

R

Kelly

McSally

D + 2*

R + 3

D Likely Flip

D + 10

Colorado

R

Hickenlooper

Gardner

R + 2

D + 5

D Likely Flip

D + 8

Minnesota

D

Smith

Lewis

D + 11*

D + 2

D Likely

D + 7

Michigan

D

Peters

James

D + 13

R + 0.2

D Lean

D + 8

Maine

R

Gideon

Collins

R + 37

D + 3

D Lean Flip

D + 5

N. Carolina

R

Cunningham

Tillis

R + 2

R + 4

D Lean Flip

D + 4

Iowa

R

Greenfield

Ernst

R + 8

R + 10

R Toss Up

Even

S. Carolina

R

Harrison

Graham

R + 15

R + 14

R Toss Up

Even

Georgia

R

Ossoff

Perdue

R + 8

R + 5

R Toss Up

R + 1

Montana

R

Bullock

Daines

R + 18

R + 20

R Toss Up

R + 2

Kansas

R

Bollier

Marshall

R + 11

R + 21

R Toss Up

R + 2

Georgia (S)

R

open primary 11/3; run off 1/5/21

R+14*

R + 5

R Lean

n/a

Alaska

R

Gross

Sullivan

R + 2

R + 15

R Likely

Even

Kentucky

R

McGrath

McConnell

R + 15

R + 30

R Likely

R + 9

Alabama

D

Jones

Tuberville

D +2*

R + 28

R Likely Flip

R + 9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Solid GOP (11):  Arkansas (Cotton), Idaho (Risch), Louisiana (Cassidy), Mississippi (Hyde-Smith), Nebraska (Sasse), Oklahoma (Inhofe), South Dakota (Rounds), Tennessee (Hagerty), Texas (Cornyn), West Virginia (Caputo), Wyoming (Lummus)

GOP seats not up for reelection in 2020:  (30)

* Arizona margin from 2018 election (Sinema beat McSally; McSally was appointed after McCain's death); Alabama from 2017 special election; Minnesota from 2018 special election


THE HOUSE

The Democrats already hold a large majority in the House.  The current count is 232 Democrats to 198 Republicans with one Libertarian and four vacancies.  When you take the four vacancies and apportion them back to their original holder, and assign the Libertarian to the GOP (he’s Justin Amish, the former GOP turned Independent turned Libertarian, who is not running for reelection), then the effective split is 233 to 205.

By far the most important predictor of how many seats will switch parties is the generic ballot.  For years we have come within a few seats based on our regression models that feature that variable.  For instance, in 2018, BTRTN predicted the Democrats would flip 38 seats from red to blue, and they actually flipped 41 seats.

This year, the generic ballot continues to heavily favor the Democrats.  The most recent set of generic ballot polls, in September, continue to show the Democrats up by roughly seven points.  If the Democrats maintain this margin through Election Day, they would be expected to flip 17 more seats, give or take a few, to get to a whopping 250 to 188 margin.

Also – there is simply no way the GOP can possibly flip the House.  We are being kind to put the odds of the Dems holding the House at 99%; we are simply allowing for the highly unlikely threat of a meteor landing.

HOUSE SNAPSHOT

House

As of 9/23

Generic Ballot

Dem + 6.9

 

 

Democrats

250 (+17)

Republicans

188 (-17)

And always remember this:

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


2 comments:

  1. Looks like the blog writer pretty much ,at this moment in time, has it right. Probably the picture will be more in focus one week after the first debate.
    Trump will get his 3d SCOTUS confirmed and the world will have very quietly changed.How this effects the vote depends on if the Progressive Senators can resist debasing themselves to kneel at the alter of the radical left. If they do not behave and savage a qualified female mother of 7 the end result is the trifecta mentioned above will vanish into a Republican majority in the Senate. As for the POTUS it is hard to know.
    Only time will tell!!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Dr. Jim, for that trenchant analysis. Still think COVID will top out at 180,000 US deaths ("give or take a few thousand"), or are you going to issue a new fearless prediction?

      Delete

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