7.

Welp…

Well we have one week to go. Joe Biden leads. 538 says the lead is 9.2%. They give him an 88% chance of victory. Meanwhile, The Economist says Biden’s odds of victory are 96%. RCP is bullish on Trump, putting him only down 7.1%. In the battlegrounds they say it’s only 3.5%. It’s worth noting they’re factoring in a lot of right-leaning pollsters like IBD, Emerson, and Rasmussen to get these numbers. Even so, they have his numbers at 4.9% better than Hillary’s at this point four years ago. Biden’s lead is substantial.

Lines stretched outside the courthouse all day.

One week out marked the end of early in-person voting in Pennsylvania. The system is new, and far from perfect, but overall it worked well. I went to the Northampton County Courthouse to hand out Biden goodies and answer voters questions, but ended up mostly helping county workers get voters to fill out the necessary paperwork to get their ballot and vote. I’m happy to report that every voter in line that finished their application by 5pm received a ballot, and only a hand full in a long line failed to finish and hand in their application by 5pm. The line stretched outside the building virtually all day, from the lower level inside (the elections office), to the rotunda security, then out of the building to the street. The scene in Easton was mirrored by even bigger lines in Allentown (Lehigh County). Going into the day, more than 94,000 ballots had been returned in the 7th Congressional district. Democrats has a 2:1 advantage in ballots returned going into the final day of in-person early voting.

Every morning

Doug Emhoff will visit Allentown tomorrow to kick off a canvass from IBEW Local 375. Doug is of course the husband of Kamala Harris. Doug becomes the first of the four main principles on the Democratic ticket to visit the Lehigh Valley in 2020. One may recall that Tim Kaine visited the region twice in 2016, but Hillary did not. For contrast, John Kerry visited twice, his wife once, and both Barack and Michelle Obama stopped by in their campaigns. I’m going to put a pin in this and leave it here for now, it is what it is. There is no bigger swing area of a swing state, but predictive analytics hate close areas. We’ll re-visit later. I’m glad Doug is coming in and giving our folks something to cheer. Predictive analytics make Democratic campaigns suck, as they make them overly efficient and not nearly energetic enough, or energizing.

I’m going to save the bulk of my comments about how bad the Democratic model of organizing is for a later (soon) date, and just share an anecdote. Four years ago, Hillary had very few yard signs, because they “don’t work,” and made you either buy one or volunteer enough times for one. Biden went the opposite way, flooding our area with signs, but still making you sign up and give over your data to get a sign. The result? No less than 2,000 Biden-Harris signs sitting around in PA-7, waiting to go somewhere. It’s not a lack of demand. I sent an email just in my township to active volunteers, and I received an immediate 25 requests, without even calling these folks. We could have moved these in days with effort. Democratic campaigns are addicted to posting big numbers though, even if it means you fail to meet your objectives. Analytics over everything. No wonder we lose often.

‘Til tomorrow…

8.

Welp…

Predictions, predictions. As we enter the final week of the election, things are becoming clear now. Joe Biden will easily win the popular vote. The Democrats will hold the House. We know the tipping point states for President and control of the Senate. We know the House battlegrounds. So what’s my call?

President- Joe Biden. I’m not predicting a win, I’m predicting a blowout. 375-163. If you look at elections post-2000, the battlegrounds tip towards the winner as a group. Hence, Biden will win PA-MI-WI fairly easy, NC-FL-AZ by modest margins, and OH-GA-IA in squeakers. He has the enthusiasm, the middle, and surge voters. It will show. Perhaps the significant part of my prediction is this- the legal nightmares Democrats have will be small at best.

Senate- Democratic. This is going to be the close part of the night. The GOP will take Alabama, meaning Democrats will need four seats to flip the chamber. AZ and CO are coming. NC seems like it is, but it’s not quite a lock yet. ME looks great, but ranked choice voting might save Collins. IA is feeling as good as those two, to me. Then you get into some interesting races. Both Georgia seats suddenly look very winnable. Texas and Kansas remain on the board very late. South Carolina is a jump ball. Montana remains very much in play thanks to having the better candidate. Mississippi is the sleeper of sleepers. And somehow, Louisiana and Kentucky occasionally look good. Meanwhile the GOP has MI and MN to play for, and that’s it. I’m predicting the Democrats pick up five seats.

House- Democratic gains. This is a bit of a surprise, but Democrats are about to make gains all over the map. Predict a dozen pick-ups. This is where the tsunami is at.

More to come later…

9.

The Washington Post takes anyone’s picture.

Into the single digits we go… and the race is mostly unchanged. RCP puts the race at 7.8% for Biden, mostly because they count Rasmussen’s ridiculous “Trump +1%” poll (perfectly timed for the GOP). Compared to 2016 at this same point, Biden is 4.9% better than Hillary at the same time. According to RCP, Biden is up 9% in Michigan, 5.5% in Wisconsin, 4.8% in Pennsylvania, 2.4% in Arizona, 1.8% in Florida, and 1.2% in North Carolina. This is closer than the national race, but not really very close for this point. Meanwhile 538 remains at Biden with an 87% chance of victory. That’s pretty good, but his 9.4% lead in their polls is even stronger than RCP’s. They also counted the Rasmussen garbage in there, but also had several polls showing the race at double digits. Finally the Economist model has Biden at a 95% chance of victory, and 346 electoral votes. Basically nobody gives Trump as good of a shot to win as he had in 2016 at this point.

Nevertheless, Donald Trump was here today. I guess he has to try (and spread Covid everywhere). He made stops in Hanover Township, Lititz, and Altoona today. The Lititz and Altoona stops can only be read as trying to strengthen his base, which is not good this late. This would seem to suggest Hanover was also about fortifying his base, which isn’t good for him. Meanwhile both Northampton and Lehigh County courthouses we’re full of voters- Democratic voters. Democrats continue to run a roughly 50k ballots returned advantage in PA-7 as they cross the 100k ballots cast mark. I maintain my belief about the state of this race.

I suspect Joe Biden’s internal polling is better than the public polling. Why? Upcoming stops in Georgia, Texas, and Iowa, all suggesting they believe they can play offense in the closing days. I do think we’ll see some more Pennsylvania stops though. Basically, if Joe wins PA, you can write off this race. Everything suggests he will, but you don’t gamble on it. Nobody wants to be second guessed like the Clinton folks for their schedule in the final two months.

More coming…

10.

Here we go. The final days before the election. Joe Biden continues to hold comfortable leads in the polls. RCP shows it as an 8% lead for Biden, and he sits at 51% in nearly all the polls. That lead is 5.4% larger than Hillary’s lead at this point four years ago. 538 gives Biden an 87% chance of victory. They also give Biden a 9.2% lead. The Economist gives Biden a 94% chance to win, and predicts 346 electoral votes for Biden.

Above is my updated map. I am not predicting a close election, or anything resembling 2016 on the surface. The only caveat to my 375-163 map is that I feel eleven states and two congressional districts will be competitive on Election Day. With that in mind though, I see Biden pulling out all of them but Texas. If he really wins by 7% or more, I don’t see how he doesn’t.

What do “the professional” pundits think? Below are some “other” maps:

With the exception of the betting market, there’s not much debate about the state of this race. Chalk that up to the male tilt of the betting market. Throwing that out, I think you can see the state of the race. Now go vote and make it real.

11.

And soon, like a miracle, it will be over.

Well, we’re almost there. Over 50 million votes have been cast. How’s it look? 538 says it’s a 9.7% race in favor of Biden. Their forecast gives Biden an 87% chance of victory. Meanwhile, the Economist gives Biden a 91% chance of winning, and 346 electoral votes. The RCP average has it Biden 51.3%-42.4%, an 8.9% lead for Biden. That’s 4.1% larger than Clinton’s lead four years ago. These are actually pretty steady numbers, although 538 and the Economist are showing slight movement towards Trump. Ultimately though, the race is heading steadily towards a Biden win.

The eleven day out mark is significant for two reasons. One, Anthony Scaramucci spent 11 days as the incoming White House Communications Director, so we are one Scaramucci away from the election. Two, it was 11 days out in 2016 when James Cody dropped his infamous letter on Hillary Clinton. It is worth noting that Clinton’s RCP average lead on that date was only 3.9%, as she battled Russia, misogyny, trying to win a third term for her party, and Trumpism. Did Comey decide the race? No. Did he probably tip the race away from her? Probably. She was already stuck below 50%, with lower approval, and big obstacles in her way. Being called a crook didn’t help.

We now head into the second to last weekend of the election. The Bidens, Bernie, and Bon Jovi are all in PA. Cher is on the road. Millions of people are voting. We’ll have more later today…

12.

Guess what I did today?

Today I did my twice annual (primary and general) civic duty and cast my vote for Joe Biden to be the 46th President of the United States. Not coincidentally, I then voted Democratic all the way down the ticket. I’m pretty happy with my choices.

It was the final debate night of 2020, which I don’t think matters a whole lot. I think it’s fair to say two things are simultaneously true- Trump both was much better than the first debate and Biden still won the debate. Does it matter? John Kerry and Hillary Clinton won all of their debates and lost the election. People don’t vote based on debates. So while they looked good, I’m not putting much stock in them.

The final analysis? Just one day closer. Now we’re on to Comey day. I’m not sure what can change it now…

13.

Barack Obama was in Philadelphia today. That is generally a good thing for Democrats. Joe Biden continues to lead by 5-9% in poll after poll of the Keystone state, which when you consider the extent to which pollsters are trying to find the “missing” Trump voters from 2016, generally means things are good. Public polling has consistently shown Biden winning the all important swing 1st, 7th, and 10th Congressional districts. Early voting numbers show a ridiculous Democratic leaning in ballots requested and returned. By every measure, Joe Biden is poised to carry Pennsylvania. If he carries Pennsylvania, he’s almost certainly President.

So, what can go wrong, right? Do you fear under performing in Philadelphia and it’s suburbs, or Pittsburgh and Allegheny County? Or do you fear a repeat failure in the Lehigh Valley or NEPA? Or maybe it’s just Western PA? Honestly, none of the above seems likely to be any worse than 2016 to me. So what am I watching at this point?

  • Getting ballots in.
  • Counting issues.
  • Foreign Interference in counting.

Obviously things will narrow a bit in the closing days. We all know that. They almost have to. At this point I see a race that ends between Biden by 5% (51-46%) and Biden by 9% (54-45%) when the dust settles. I believe either way he wins the electoral college, but one is very easy, the other might be a little longer wait.

14.

Well, we’re into the homestretch. With under two weeks to go, RCP has it 51-42.5%, or Biden plus 8.5%. Comparable to 2016, Biden’s lead is 2.9% bigger than Clinton’s. In yesterday’s polls, Biden lead by 8%, 9%, and 3% (in the one poll that gave Trump a final lead in 2016), which looks pretty healthy. If you look back at Clinton’s final 2016 RCP lead (3.3%), the thing that stands out is that she only hit 50% in one poll, and was often around 45%. Biden regularly hits 50%. 538 gives Biden an 87% chance of victory, while their polling average sits at 52.2-42% for Biden. Meanwhile, The Economist model gives Biden a 93% chance of victory, projecting a 346-192 win. None of this is close or good for Trump at this point.

Let’s talk about Trump insulting Erie during his stop there last night. There was no way he was coming, he didn’t have to. Really? One of the rather remarkable things about this election is how steady Joe Biden’s lead has really been since 2017. This President has never been very popular, compared to any predecessor in modern times. It is more likely than not that he is going to go down as having won a 2016 fluke, a statistical accident, than that he ever was really favored to win. Him thinking otherwise is both hilarious and insulting.

Could he win? It is statistically possible, and should be taken seriously until it’s called, but it’s unlikely. It is true that Trump finished 3.9% better than his RCP average, which was an almost identical 42.2% in 2016. It is also true that Gary Johnson and Jill Stein both lost close to a point from their averages though, a non-factor this time, and that Hillary finished 2.7% above her average as well. A similar change this time would push Biden close to 54%, a huge number for any modern nominee. The 2016 results were complicated and need to be read far deeper into than we often do. it’s highly unlikely to look the same in 2020.

Feeling confident as ever, more later…

15.

But a snapshot…

Well, we’re two weeks out. Above is my current projection of the race. The simple truth of the matter is with his current lead, Biden would win, and win pretty healthy. He’d probably carry PA/MI/WI each by over 5%. He probably carries NC/FL/AZ each by over 3%. He would very narrowly pull out OH/IA/GA right now. Last but not least, he holds MN/NH/VA/CO by close to double digits, and NV comfortably. I don’t think right now he carries TX, but that could make this a historic blowout.

In the Senate, I think things are more competitive, but still leaning Democratic. Democrats seem in strong position to pull off AZ and CO pick ups, but likely to lose AL. At this point Dems remain favorites in MI and MN to hold, and slight favorites in ME, NC, and IA to flip the Senate. Then you have a real toss-up in MT, and very slight GOP favorites in KS, AK, both GA seats, SC, and TX. Even MS and LA are now on the board for the Dems too. With Dems holding financial edges almost everywhere, right now I predict a 53-47 Democratic Senate.

The House isn’t even in play. With some of the supposedly competitive seats producing lopsided polls in favor of the Democrats, it’s hard to see where they pick up seats. I’m predicting Democrats pick up 12 seats, going to 244-191.

The one ray of hope for the GOP are the Governor’s races. Taking back NC may look like a pipe dream, but MT is leaning their way. Defenses in WV, IN, UT, and NH all appear safer than earlier in the year. Their one semi-competitive protection, MO, is leaning their way.

That’s all for now…

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…