The US is in the midst of one of its most important presidential elections in recent memory. President Donald Trump, running for a second term, is being challenged by Joe Biden of the Democratic Party. Still reeling under the COVID-19 pandemic, US society has been torn apart by anti-race protests sparked by killings of black men by trigger-happy policemen but sustained by systemic racism, and the President has deliberately unleashed all the dark forces of American exceptionalism, patriarchy and white supremacy in the name of ‘Making America Great Again’. His climate change denial, support to other right-wing leaders like Brazil’s Bolsonaro, the UK’s Boris Johnson and of course, Prime Minister Modi in India, his fuelling of armament build-up, his support to Israeli expansionism and many other foreign policy stances have earned him global notoriety. Hence this election is of interest, and concern, to people around the world. NewsClick will be publishing these observations periodically.
The situation on the ground has been fairly steady over the last two weeks. Biden was ahead of Trump nationally by 10 to 11 points all summer; currently, Biden is ahead in by eight to nine points nationally. In the swing states, the gap is smaller. I have switched from Five Thirty Eight’s polling numbers to those from RealClearPolitics, since they take an average of six to eight polls conducted over the last two weeks. So, the average gap shown by RealClearPolitics is much more conservative. Let me repeat: the situation on the ground has not changed much for Trump over the past two weeks but many Republican politicians have started distancing themselves from the US President.
A recent poll by The New York Times / Sienna college has indicated that among suburban women, Biden leads Trump by a whopping 23 point margin. Both are tied among suburban men (strangely enough). Among blue collar non-college going working people, Biden has also closed the Trump- Hillary gap from 2016. Trump has also lost some support among senior citizens and generally over the last six months because of his disastrous COVID-19 handling and a serious economic downturn.
Swing states can be put in three categories:
Michigan: Biden ahead by 7 points.
Pennsylvania and Wisconsin : Biden ahead by 6 points, ( statistical margin of error +/- 3-4% ). Biden close to 50% already.
Arizona: Biden ahead by 4 points
North Carolina - Biden ahead by 3 points ( statistical margin of error +/- 3-4% ).
Biden's numbers in the range of 47-49%.
Florida, Georgia, Iowa - Toss up, Biden ahead of Trump within 2% ( statistical margin of error +/- 3- 4% )
Ohio: Dead Heat
Some polls show Texas in that category! I am not including Texas. Trump is ahead of Biden by four points. Remembe: Beto (D) lost to Ted Cruz (R) by just 2.4% in the 2018 Senate race.
Please recall that among the seven states listed above, excluding Iowa which is a small state, Biden has to win only three states to win the Presidency. If Biden wins the big state of Florida, he needs to win only one more state out of the seven above (excluding Iowa).
Let us look at Minnesota and Virginia, which Hillary carried narrowly in 2016.
Minnesota: Biden ahead by six to seven points, Biden close to 50% already ( statistical margin of error +/- 3-4%),
Virginia: Biden ahead by nine points, Biden at 50% already ( statistical margin of error +/- 3-4% )
My projection with an 85% confidence limit: Trump will lose this election. There is more than 50% chance that Trump will lose big even in the electoral college (I do not mean a land slide). Even Republicans concede that Trump will lose the popular vote by few million votes.
The US Senate elections in 2020 are equally important as the Presidential election. Let us review the prospect of the Republican candidates. The current Senate make up is 53-47 in favour of Republicans. Democrats have to pick up three seats if Biden wins and four seats if Biden loses to gain the majority in that chamber. Republicans conceded in the summer that if Trump does not win or lose narrowly, they will most likely lose a Senate majority.
Democrats chances of pick ups (in decreasing order of likelihood)
Arizona: Ron Kelly ahead of appointed incumbent, Martha McSally, by eight points (Republican state)
Colorado: Current popular Governor Hickenlooper ahead of incumbent Cory Gardner by eight points (Democratic state)
Maine: Current speaker of the Maine House, Sarah Gideon, ahead of incumbent senator Susan Collins by four points (Democratic state)
North Carolina: Challenger Cunningham ahead of incumbent Tom Tillis by four points (Republican state). Tom Tillis was down with COVID-19 and Cunningham has apologised for his inappropriate tweet to a lady Financial Advisor. This incident has not hurt Cunningham all that much.
Iowa: Challenger Greenfield ahead of incumbent Joni Ernst by five points (both women candidates, Republican state)
South Carolina: Challenger Harrison, a black businessman essentially tied with incumbent Lindsey Graham, the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman who changed his mind regarding confirming a Supreme Court Justice two months before the election. They blocked Obama's nominee 8 months before the election in 2016 (heavily Republican state with 30% black voters)
Montana: Popular Democratic Governor Steve Bullock is behind the incumbent Senator Daines by only three points. Trump won Montana by 20 points in 2016! This is unbelievable, indeed (Republican state)
Georgia 1: In one special election, if nobody gets the majority among the four candidates, there will be a run-off election in January, 2021, among the top two vote-getters. The second slot will go to a Democrat (Warnock) in the run-off election (Republican state)
Georgia 2: Dead heat between incumbent Perdue and challenger Osoff (Republican state)
Republicans chance of a pick up – Alabama: Republican challenger ahead of Democratic incumbent Doug Jones by 10+ points (Republican state).
My projection with an 85% confidence limit: Democrats will pick up between five and six seats and lose one in the US senate. Democrats will gain the majority.
There are fears that Trump may try to create mayhem while mail-in vote counting goes on for few days, possibly till Saturday after the election on Tuesday, November 3. The Secretary of State in each of the 50 states is responsible for conducting the election and certifying results in his/her state. Trump does not control that process. He can create uncertainty by going to the courts, but he cannot change the outcome of the election. If he loses a big state like Ohio or North Carolina in the first night, his ability, to create chaos will be reduced significantly.
He is already trying to undermine the credibility of this election because he knows he will lose at the end.
Early voting has started in many states, including Texas and Georgia. There is an unprecedented level of enthusiasm among voters. Over 20 million people have already voted, including our friends and us. In the African-American-dominated areas of Georgia, voters are waiting between four and eight hours in the polling locations to vote (deliberate voter suppression efforts by the Republican Secretary of State). Very few voters are going back, they seem highly motivated. The projection is for total voting of over 150 million people this time. That will shatter the record of voting percentages since 1908, more than 100 years ago. Traditionally, when more people vote, Democrats do very well. Trump and his enablers need to be defeated by big margins so that the Republicans are forced to come back to their senses. So far, they proved to be a bunch of spineless cowards (save for a few).
Based in Dallas, Texas, the writer is in the thick of the US Presidential Election campaign.