Remember last week? It was 2,344 Trump Years ago. The week before? A lifetime. In that time, we saw Trump’s taxes released, and we thought that would be a big story, but it lasted about 12 hours. We had a presidential debate and Melania Trump’s taped admission that she hates Christmas. Trump got COVID-19, and then embraced the Typhoid Trump moniker and shared the virus with untold many. It is quite likely he had it at that debate. He’s also had several steroid-fueled meltdowns, culminating in pulling out of COVID-19 relief negotiations. There’s a Supreme Court nomination that Republicans are desperate to ram through, and the vice president had pink eye and a fly at some debate.
And the worst part of it? It is absolutely positively likely that I forgot to add something to that list!
So the question we ask every Thursday is how all this craziness is affecting the presidential race. First, let’s look at the state of the race using The Economist’s polling aggregate model.
Last week, this aggregate clocked in at 54.1-45.9 advantage for Democratic nominee Joe Biden, thus we’ve seen a 0.6-point net shift toward Biden. But … look at that smattering of recent polls with the gaudy Biden numbers. CNN had Biden up 58-42, Ipsos-Reuters 57-43, and NBC News 58-42 (among others). So why hasn’t the aggregate moved more aggressively toward Biden?
I’ve discussed partisan nonresponse bias before, and I do think there’s some of that happening here. This is a phenomenon where a candidate is doing so poorly that his or her supporters tune out the election, thus making them less likely to answer polls. We saw that in 2012 after the first presidential debate when President Barack Obama stunk up the joint. The polls seemed to suggest that Republican nominee Mitt Romney had made massive polling gains. In reality, it was all ephemeral—liberals too depressed to answer any questions.
There is plenty to demoralize Republicans, but nothing more than seeing their supposed superman president laid up in the White House with COVID-19. That’s why an addled Trump is walking around claiming he’s immune and saying on Fox this morning that he’s “a perfect physician [sic] specimen.” So that polling model above is discounting those massive polling leads. In other words, things could be even better for Biden.
But national presidential elections are won at the state level because of our stupid system. So where do we stand on that?
Let’s start with our baseline map. I still can’t believe Texas isn’t default red.
I’m using the Economist’s modeled aggregates for all states, except for the single-electoral-vote districts in Maine and Nebraska. Those I’m just eyeballing averaging the scant polling we have from those locations. Note that Alaska and Montana are likely competitive as well, but they may be the two most difficult states to poll, so few venture there. I like to tell people that if they want to sound smart to their friends, predict that Biden will come close or win Alaska.
Pennsylvania remains the tipping-point state, and the fact that all three of those upper midwest states are giving Biden big leads of 6.6 points or higher really shows how impossible Trump’s reelection bid has become. This isn’t just an electoral walloping in the making, it’s putting this race outside the margin of chaos and violence.
Biden increased his lead in every single state except Wisconsin, where he just floated down a hair. This is a good opportunity to note the correlation between the national and state polling. Per The Economist, Biden gain 0.6 points versus Trump. The gains in these states run along the same lines, with only Texas really popping outside the general vicinity.
Texas is truly interesting. Look at yesterday’s polls from the state:
Something real is happening there. If Biden is truly on the edge of flipping Texas, we are really looking at the possibility of over 400 electoral votes for Biden, and a host of even more important goodies along with them (such as Sens. MJ Hegar and Jamie Harrison, a big Senate majority, a bigger House majority, state legislative takeovers, and a cathartic wholesale repudiation of Trumpism). Let’s make it happen!
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