16.

It’s Magic

And down the stretch we come! We’ve reached the two week mark, so I’ll be doing a few posts today, starting with this one.

The Economist is up to 92% on Biden winning. This might feel incorrect for a lot of people as they read “horse race journalism” about how Clinton lead too, or some swing states are actually close, or any other garbage. Let’s state the obvious though- Biden’s lead is 3.2% bigger than Clinton’s was at this point. What exactly does this mean though? On Election Day, Clinton’s polling average was about 2.9% on average in 2016, and the exit polls showed her up by 3.2% nationally. She won the popular vote by 2.1%. So in short, Clinton lost 2.5% from 14 days out until the end, then about another point on Election Day, totaling 3.5%. That 3.5% surge gave Trump an electoral college victory by 450k votes in the closest six states, 77k in the closest three. RCP has Biden up 8.6% today, clearing 51%. By this measure, Biden wins by 5.1% nationally, and unless you actually believe Biden gained 3% on Clinton entirely in reliably red and blue states, he wins. If we use 538, it’s a 10.3% lead, and with a Trump surge it’s 6.8%. Biden wins easily at that point. Of course if we applied a full 4% margin of error onto both of those numbers, perhaps Trump wins, but that’s at least double counting. He needs a much bigger surge than 2016.

What if the race is closer though? Most folks who believe so, do so on the basis that Trump has an intensity advantage. It doesn’t seem arguable that more people have strong feelings about him. An AI study recently said its a 3% race, 50-47%. They base this on internet mentions and comments. Still others cite Ronald Reagan’s late surge, which when you adjust for demographic movement, is actually probably comparable to 2016. Reagan was of course the challenger though, as was Trump theoretically in 2016- Trump 2020 is not. I’ve basically believed for four years that Trump would get his 46% he got in 2016, and he very well might. Biden simply needs to beat Hillary’s 48%, and probably even 49% under that scenario. The main point is that most theories of Trump over shooting his numbers are based on him having more intense support. Of course Biden has lead for months, early vote numbers among Democrats are super high, and he’s beating Trump’s fundraising numbers on the backs of small dollar donors- so does Trump hold an intensity advantage? The short answer is probably not.

The one interesting thing about this cycle has been the death and burial of the era of “identity politics”- or more directly, the death of “demographics are destiny” talk. Polling this year suggests Biden’s lead is largely because of dramatic improvements among men, whites, seniors, and independents, compared to Clinton. Meanwhile, Trump very well may out perform his 2016 self among African-Americans, particularly the men, and LatinX voters. This drives “professional DC nuts,” but it’s probably good for the country. Elections that simply resemble race wars aren’t good for unifying the country after, and honestly someone’s race shouldn’t define their politics. On a purely partisan level, this probably makes split popular/electoral college decisions less likely. This could be the biggest positive of the cycle for the country, if it continues forward.

More later…

17.

Might not be the image Trump wanted…

It was a big day for Donald Trump. First, the Economist model didn’t change. So it didn’t get worse. Then the RCP average fell to 8.9%. That’s still bad, but it’s best case! It’s still 3.3% worse than 2016 at the same point though, which is bad for him. Meanwhile 538 has him 10.6% down. The race remains a blowout, regardless of how hard Steve Bannon tries to impress Trump for a pardon.

The money race is really close in Northampton County. At least among donors writing checks of $200 or more. My bet is if we could see $50 or less donors, it’s not close. While there are the hardliners, Trump isn’t gaining here.

Today is a mostly virtual day for me. I’ll have a lot more tonight. Most of the coverage of this race is silly season now. One thing to note? 40k ballots are in for Northampton and Lehigh Counties. Democrats have cast 69.5%. That’s back breaking.

More later…

18.

Every morning…

The one sure thing in this campaign is that after every debate, interview, or town hall the Trump campaign takes part in, they’ll complain about the moderator or interviewer. They’re all too mean, their questions too hard, they used the President’s words, or they were too aggressive. You’d almost think the Trump campaign is trying to cover for their candidate not knowing anything about what he’s talking about. They agreed to a town hall with NBC for last night, then spent all day complaining about the moderator.

538 shows no change in the race, with Biden up 10.5%. It was a big day for Trump with RCP, as he’s within 8.9% now. Compared to 2016, he’s 3.1% worse though. Over at the Economist things are unchanged, with Biden winning 343 electoral votes and have a 91% chance of victory. It’s not looking close.

Of course in crackpot land, it’s competitive. They’re pointing at voter registration, a lagging indicator, and giving at least as much credence there as polls, fundraising, and ballot requests. You know though, the crooked pollsters are skewed.

Joni Ernst, the Iowa Senator who became famous for her ads about crushing bull “balls” doesn’t know the price of soy beans. So much for being a farm girl. Turns out she went Washington these last six years.

More tomorrow…

19.

Almost there…

Happy what should’ve been the second debate night. Instead you got two town halls tonight. Biden’s was basically what you expect, with mostly normal questions and answers. The biggest “news” was that he would have a position on adding judges to the Supreme Court once the Amy Coney Barrett confirmation fight is over. Meanwhile the Trump town hall was basically a dumpster fire where he downplayed Covid and masks. It went so well for him that his staff and supporters complained about the moderator and compared Biden to Mr. Rogers.

Over on Capitol Hill, the ACB confirmation hearings basically ended today. She failed to agree that Presidents can’t unilaterally cancel elections, or agree that climate change is settled in the scientific community, or to say voter intimidation is unconstitutional, or agree that Roe v. Wade is settled law. She’s a lunatic. She’s unfit for the bench. She’ll be confirmed, but she’s embarrassing.

So, the state of the race. 538 has it at 10.5%. This is becoming steady. RCP has Biden by 9.4%. That’s also 3.4% better than Hillary’s margin at this point. In both averages, Biden clears 51% and Trump sits around 42%. The Economist model sits with Biden at 91% likelihood to win the electoral college, 99% to win the popular vote, and likely to win 343 electoral votes. That’s not so competitive.

The sad part of today was both getting official word that Senator Harris was coming to Allentown on Saturday, and then that she’s cancelled her weekend travel. Definitely deflating. May something good happen tomorrow.

More tomorrow…

20.

It’s almost over…

You can’t win yesterday’s war, but that’ll never stop Rudy Giuliani from trying. His latest stunt involved leaking e-mails “involving” Hunter Biden introducing a Ukrainian business associate to his father, then the Vice-President. The problem? His “source” has been declared a Russian agent by Trump’s Treasury Department. The dates they alleged the meeting to happen, they were discredited. Their “source” is a certified crackpot. And the meta data suggests the files were created later. In trying to conjure up the “Comey Letter” or Wikileaks hits on Hillary, Rudy did a sloppy job of trying to make fetch happen. Dare I say, Rudy’s skills are in decline, as is most of Team Trump’s. This is what, the fifteenth time they’ve tried to make Hunter Biden a thing? America doesn’t care. At least he doesn’t work for his dad.

The trouble for Democrats these last 20 days is that we’re a bed wetter party, and the media isn’t going to call this race for the blowout it is. That’s bad for ratings and sales. They’ll at least cover the crackpot conspiracies of Rudy, Jarvanka, Bannon, or whatever other clown steps up. Axios wrote an article today saying Biden hasn’t been scrutinized. Part of their proof? He isn’t being asked about “Medicare for All” enough. You know, the issue he ran against in the primary and won on? Yeah, that. Writing that this election is a blowout isn’t interesting though. It doesn’t get click impressions. So now they’ll print Trump press releases, verbatim. Perhaps more annoying though are the bed wetters who will freak out though, and then cite 2016 as why we should worry now.

The truth? This ain’t 2016. Biden’s lead on RCP is 3% bigger than Clinton’s at this point, and tops 50%, unlike her’s. His lead is 9.2% tonight. A slew of new polls all show the race well past the margin of error, and in some cases growing. 538 shows the lead at 10.2% for Biden. That’s only 8.1% larger than Hillary’s margin. It’s no wonder The Economist’s model gives Biden a 91% chance of victory and projects him to win 345 electoral votes. For what it’s worth, they also project a House majority for Democrats.

Locally speaking, the Desales/WFMZ poll shows Joe Biden leading PA-7 54-39%, and Susan Wild leading the Congressional race by 18%. Governor Wolf gets 59% approval for handling the Coronavirus in the same poll. Generally if you want to know who will win Pennsylvania, look at PA-7, 8, and 10. These kinds of numbers suggest Trump is dead here.

More to come tomorrow…

21.

Without toss-ups…
With toss-ups…

In 2016, Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton by narrowly pulling out Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. His margin in those three states was roughly 75K votes. Add on Florida, North Carolina, and Arizona, and his margin was roughly 450K votes. Flip those states? It’s a Democratic landslide. Throw in Ohio, Iowa, and Maine-2, which all flipped from Obama to Trump? You have a battleground.

Right now, I’m calling Joe Biden to flip all of these states but Iowa. I’m predicting victory in Nebraska-2 as well. At this time I’m not calling flips in Iowa, Georgia, or Texas, but all are possible. Had Hillary won the popular vote by 3% (her polling average lead was 2.9% that morning), she flips PA, MI, and WI. With only a small bump past that, she wins FL, NC, and AZ. If Joe Biden holds a 10% lead on election night, every state I’ve named here goes blue. A 10% win is an easy 400+ electoral vote win. I don’t presume a 10% final victory. I do presume a healthy win though.

I’m not sure I’m as confident in the Senate though. The Democrats have plenty of opportunities, but a lack of sure things. They have solid leads in Arizona and Colorado, but also look like they’ll lose Alabama. Maine, North Carolina, Iowa, and Montana all look super close, as Democrats often lead, but haven’t closed the deal. In Michigan, their incumbent seems to be treading water. Yet at the same time, South Carolina, Kansas, Alaska, Texas, and both seats in Georgia seem competitive. And of course Kentucky is still out there. A 56-44 Democratic Senate isn’t crazy. Neither is a 51-49 Republican one. I still think the Democrats win, but I wouldn’t bet anything valuable.

The House? It doesn’t seem to be in play. If races like SC-1 aren’t really in play, is the House? If races like PA-6 and 7 aren’t in play, how do the Republicans defend themselves in tough defenses? I’d bet on Democrats winning a dozen new house seats.

There are some interesting Governor races in Montana and Missouri, and seemingly a solid Democratic win in North Carolina. The Democratic Party looks to be headed to crushing defeat in West Virginia, Indiana, New Hampshire, and Utah though. Don’t expect too much change here.

Three weeks. Three more weeks…

22.

Nice mail…

Two posts for three weeks out. Let’s start with the state of the race. 538 says Biden leads by 10.5%. That’s not close. The Economist’s model gives Biden 343 electoral votes and a 91% chance of victory. That’s also not so close. RCP did give Trump a slight bump in their average, putting him only down 10%. Biden’s lead is around 10% and sat over 50% in almost every poll. His current lead is 2.9% bigger than Hillary’s, which is slightly closer than it’s been in recent days- because she was in a bit of a surge at this point in 2016.

The biggest discussion of this race at this point is pretty simple- what could change? The most obvious thing that pops into mind is the 2016 “Comey Letter.” Tonight I asked a friend exactly when that happened, as I believed it was about 13 days out. The Comey letter was released October 28th, 2016, a full 11 days out from the Election. The equivalent in this election would be October 23rd, a Thursday. There’s big problems with this working again. For one thing, Joe Biden has higher favorability than Hillary did at this point. Also he doesn’t have an investigation that hung over him for months before that moment. Also, there aren’t all the other factors- a party seeking a third term, a historic candidate facing sexism, Russia (at least we hope not as bad), or facing a somewhat unknown opponent. Even so, that’s the kind of change it would take to turn this race. It just would be much harder to pull off.

Obviously, elections aren’t over until they actually are over. Millions of votes have been cast though. With three weeks to go, the time is up, and the time is now. Please vote. Just vote.

23.

And down the stretch they come…

Another day, no changes. RCP shows two new polls, with Biden at 8% and 11% up, leading to a 10.2% average lead in the polls. Again, for reference, Hillary won by 2.1% in the popular vote, but lost the six closest states by roughly 450k votes. Biden’s lead is 3.1% bigger than Hillary’s at this point. His approval is in the 50’s now though, as is his polling head-to-head. This is a bigger, more durable lead. 538 puts the race at 10.4%, with Biden over 52%. There simply is no precedent for this kind of lead for a challenger recently. The Economist gives Biden a 91% chance to win, and predicts him to win 347 electoral votes. Donald Trump’s campaign is a mess.

There is an alternative universe on twitter though, one that is convinced Donald Trump is not only going to win, but he’ll win bigger than 2016. Never mind the lack of evidence, his opponent’s strength against him, or his financial deficit. They believe in “secret” Trump voters, polling biases, and of course, Santa Claus. The question I ask myself is if they’re just coping, or stupid. Of course I could ask if Democrats still hyperventilating are coping or stupid too.

Lots more tomorrow…

24.

Happy Monday

Rather than doing a race update or talking about issues, I want to take some time this morning to talk about politics, and why so many Americans hate it. Why it doesn’t speak to them. And why it’s not responsive.

Politics is an industry. It is not our system of government, it is an industry that has to produce growth and prosperity like any other. While I think most people think the industry’s consumers are the voters, I think the truth is that the consumers are the small dollar donors on the left, and the high rolling lobbyists on the right. Whether the positions of the donors are electable or not, the show must go on. You can’t run the industry, or at least finance it’s current form, without the donors funding it. This means running candidates, and taking issue positions, that don’t match up with the median voters out in the districts, but instead match up with the median donors. Donors are generally way more partisan and ideological than the decisive voters. Hence, the two parties seeming ever more polarizing and out of step with the average person in your neighborhood. They are discussing issues that matter more to donors than average voters. If you view the consumer for this industry as voters, it makes no sense. If you view the folks finding things as the consumers, it makes perfect sense.

This seems like a good point to point out that this does not mean politics is inherently corrupt. Many people take the incorrect view that donors “buy” policy from politicians. They don’t. Candidates mostly come with safe, pre-packaged viewpoints that match up with the donors. Basically, the funding only really goes to people who agree with the donors. As the Democrats have moved from bigger donor to smaller donor models, the candidates have moved left accordingly. As the Republicans fund their campaigns from wealthy, white men and “culture warriors” they have took increasingly more extreme positions as well. Part of why Donald Trump has taken over a previously hostile GOP establishment is that he controls the activist donor class, and they don’t.

Which leads back to my initial point- American politics suck, and the rise of Joe Biden is actually a repudiation of the professional class who run it in DC, just as Trump 2016 was. It turns out the last Democratic Vice-President, with his long and complicated Senate record, his age, race, and gender, and folksy style, was something the broader voting base liked. Oh sure, he struggled in the earliest primaries, but once non-white voters and blue collar “Rust Belt” voters got into the game, he shot up the leader board. The donor class has come along, now that he’s facing Trump, but it’s worth noting how wrong they were at the start. The “great” operatives, the left media, the donor class, they all preferred anyone to Biden. He would certainly implode, they said. Just as Hillary was a lock to win, right? Some of the podcast class declared Biden dumb, wrong on everything, and boring. Hell, they even labeled him a moderate. I’m not the only one noticing this now.

Well look where we are now…

25.

It’s happening…

Four years ago right now, Hillary Clinton had a 5.7% lead. Today Joe Biden is up 4.1% more. It felt like she was pulling away in the polls at this point last time, Biden actually is. Biden’s 9.8% lead is the largest at this point since 1996. The ABC/Washington Post poll puts Biden up 12% this weekend. 538 has the lead up to 10.3%. This race is lopsided.

Yesterday I was out observing early vote sites around Northampton County. I’m happy to report people are showing up.

So more on the Hillary comparison. The main differences I see with 2016 are pretty straight forward: her negatives were much higher, there were way more undecideds, even when she held big leads she wasn’t at or near 50%, she was the first woman nominee, Comey, Russia, and no major crisis. Almost none of that applies to Biden. For all of those reasons, I believe it’s safe to accept these polls. Also, the pollsters adjusting the polls to account for education levels is helping Trump, and it’s still worse.

So I’m feeling good. More later…