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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We are now down to 30 days to go. There’s a strong consensus that Joe Biden is winning, and by a rough average of 8%. His lead is bigger than Hillary’s at this same point, by roughly 4%. Hillary won the popular vote by 2.1%. If she had won by 3%, she would have actually won. Joe Biden is in strong position to win.
If the election were today, I have Biden winning the electoral college 375-163. I have him winning the popular vote 52-45%. I have Biden sweeping the “big six”- PA, MI, and WI right now by 5% or more, and AZ, NC, and FL considerably closer. I have him pulling in OH, GA, and IA right now as well, albeit very close. The race *should* narrow down the stretch, and some states could move back towards Trump, but it could widen and put TX and SC in Biden’s column. For now though, I don’t have it very close.
Then there’s the matter of the Senate. Democrats look poised to flip AZ, CO, and ME. They look likely to lose AL. That puts the Democrats at 49 seats. They would need one seat and the Vice-Presidency or two seats to claim the Senate. The most likely tipping point seats appear to be NC and IA, both of which have been narrow Democratic leads lately. Then you get into a group of very close seats that would determine the durability of a Democratic majority. There’s a tough defense in Michigan that Democrats need to pay attention to. Democrats would look stupid if they blew the Senate on this defense. Then there’s a group of Democratic opportunities that range from extremely possible to a bit of a reach. Democrats have a chance (in plausibility order) of winning MT, both GA seats, SC, TX, MS, KS, AK, and KY. If I were a gambling man today, I’d say the Democrats win a net of six seats, for a 53-47 majority.
It would be too much to go through the individual House races and try to predict them all, but we can make some macro projections. First off, there aren’t enough Democrats really “in danger” to flip the House. There are probably at least as many Republicans in real danger, if not more. On the other hand, the Dems generic ballot lead is all over, and probably isn’t 2018 level strong. I’d expect Democrats to fall somewhere between even money and a dozen seats to the positive.
Rather than talking national polling in this post, we’ll focus on some state polling. Specifically the NYTimes/Siena polls showing Biden leading 49-42% in Pennsylvania and 47-42% in Florida. These polls are basically in line with other recent polling in both states. If you look over the recent Pennsylvania polling on RCP, Biden is averaging over 50% and leading by 6.4%, which is very close now to their national average. Biden is consistently hitting 49% across all the polls. In Florida, RCP has Biden leading by 2% at 47.8%-45.8%. He leads in all but one poll they used, though only once hitting 50%. In both states, the number of undecided is roughly 1 in 10, or less. Biden would probably carry Pennsylvania as is, but probably needs a slight bump to lock up Florida. In any case, Trump has huge problems in both. If he loses both? It’s over.
Meanwhile, the President remains hospitalized at Walter Reed. The campaign remains stopped in place. While I might give the edge to the North Carolina Senate race for weirdest race in the country this weekend, we’ve never seen a Presidential race like this. While people try to game out what will happen under each scenario, the truth is that we don’t totally know. This situation probably won’t move the decideds, but what will it do to undecided voters? It’s hard to game that out, but there’s a pretty good chance it won’t change the result.
So much is being made of the Biden campaign pulling down their negative ads. I know this isn’t what some people want to hear, but the decision makes sense. This is on brand for Biden. It also is highly unlikely Biden would gain using these ads during Trump’s hospitalization. Sure, Trump is continuing to attack- with the same garbage that hasn’t worked so far. Their campaign is a clueless operation. That’s why the polls are where they are.
To be honest, the national polls show a race that matches that. After polls from YouGov, Reuters, and Rasmussen showed the margin for Biden at 8% or more, the RCP average is now 6.6%. Comparing this to Hillary’s lead at the same point, that’s 3.4% better. If you prefer 538’s numbers, they have Biden up 7.6%. Hillary won by 2.1% in the popular vote. Had she won by 2.6%, she probably pulls back PA, MI, and WI, and the election. At 3.1%, she probably pulls in Florida, Arizona, and North Carolina. Giving even a 4% margin of error on Biden’s leads (as opposed to .8% in 2016), Biden would get the 2.6% needed to win. In reality he probably gets that and more. I’m not sure if this is 2008 or 2012, but it’s not 2016.
On top of all this, the Senate is slowly slipping away from the GOP as well. Democrats have solid leads in Arizona and Colorado, persistent leads in Maine and North Carolina, and are in jump ball races in Iowa, South Carolina, Montana, and Georgia. Recent polls have shown steep climbs in Iowa and Georgia for Democrats recently. Things are looking very upward for Democrats.
To be clear, we’re not going to talk about the debate until the next post. Things happened yesterday and today before the debate. Eric Trump declared himself part of the LGBTQ community. Yesterday Biden lead in PA by 9%. In fact, four new polls put it at 5-9% for Biden.
I look forward to the morning of November 4th. I picture myself rolling up to the county courthouse, coffee in hand, bright and early. We’re pretty sure we won, but I need to watch some more ballots get counted. It’ll be done in a day or two though, and then life is wide open. Is it off to DC? To another campaign? To some other place on the globe? I guess we’ll see. I won’t have to give a damn about Donald Trump’s tweets though, or walking the political right rope. Freedom. It’s coming.
The news of this Sunday was not polls, or visits, or anything sane- after former Pennsylvania Governor and DHS founder Tom Ridge endorsed Joe Biden. This is a valuable and symbolic endorsement. Donald Trump has been roundly rejected by the Bush 43 establishment, and this one gets very close to Dubbya himself. It’s a big endorsement in Pennsylvania too. I remember hearing a bunch of Phillies fans cheer around a stadium TV when George W. Bush announced him as his new Homeland Security Director. He’s emblematic of Pennsylvania.
Of course that’s like a million years ago now- I’m talking about the endorsement. Within an hour or two, the Rock was endorsing Joe Biden. That’s Bethlehem, PA native and global icon Dwayne Johnson. I have to admit I never saw this one coming. And did it even matter after Trump’s tax returns finally surfaced. Turns out this guy is forever in debt and is actually the crappy businessman people always said he is. Shocked yet?
None of this actually matters. Joe Biden’s best argument is that he’s a fairly normal guy, and Trump is incompetent. The last of the undecideds know Trump is a bad dude. They don’t think much of any electeds though. They want to know Joe is acceptable to them. They will after Tuesday.