David Ross

American presidential election, Opus n°2

In fact, most of the 50 states are not very competitive. About 30 of the 50 states are already solidly belong to one of the two parties. These states, which include California and New York for the Democrats, and Tennessee and Alabama for the Republicans, will not even see any advertising dollars spent there. The conclusion is already known. Of the remaining 20 states, 10 are fairly solid for one party or the other, and only about 10 states are truly competitive and they decide the election.

What made the 2016 election unusual is that three states that normally were fairly solid states for Democrats (Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin), flipped to Donald Trump on a total of 79,646 votes (10,704 in Michigan, 46,765 in Pennsylvania, and 22,177 in Wisconsin). It is those 79,646 people, out of 137 million votes, that gave Donald Trump his victory. Most people believe that the polls were terribly wrong, which is incorrect. The reality is that the polling data in 2016 turned out to be among the most accurate ever as they predicted Clinton had a 3% lead and she ended up winning the popular vote by 2%. What the polls did not capture was how the vote was allocated among the states. Donald Trump won just enough votes in just enough states to win the election at the Electoral Vote level.

For 2020, the election map looks to in change again. Because of demographic changes, such as migration of people from the typically Democratic Northeastern US to the Sunbelt, with its jobs, nice weather, and lower taxes, some of the Southern states that have been solidly Republican are becoming less so. While the rural states are still Republican, the states that have large urban centers (like Texas with Houston and Dallas; Georgia with Atlanta; North Carolina with Charlotte; or Arizona with Phoenix) are becoming more competitive in this election. What this means is that the election map becomes more difficult for Donald Trump than in 2016. It is not impossible, but at this point becomes an uphill struggle. Most are watching these states as key swing states that will determine the election: Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Right now, polls are showing Joe Biden with a 8% lead. Many will remember 1988, when Democrat Michael Dukakis was ahead in the polls by 17 points after his party’s convention but lost by a large amount (he lost by 7 million votes, or 8%), resulting in an electoral college landslide for George Bush of 426 Electoral Votes to 111 for Dukakis.

Polls this early have never held much predictive value, and that is one fact that the Republican Party will be banking on this time around.