Tuesday, September 15, 2020

As Biden's Lead Slightly Softens and Trump's Numbers Improve, Democrats Go Into Full Panic Mode; Why that Panic is Not (Yet) Justified

With the Election Day just 49 days away, we are seeing a dip in Biden's national and battleground polling leads as Trump's popularity has improved.   That has caused Democrats to go into full panic mode.

That is actually a very good thing for Democrats.  If you are a campaign manager, you want your candidate to be constantly worried he or she is going to lose.  You don't want the candidate to relax, to think he or she has it in the bag.  In politics, paranoia is your friend.   As my track coach used to tell me, when you are in the lead, run through the tape.  Do not slow down as you approach the finish line, thinking you have it won.   

Fear of losing also drives turnout.  If voters think their presidential candidate is certain to win, they are less likely to go to the polls.   

Hillary Clinton, now, knows this all too well.  Not only did many of her voters stay home because they thought she was a sure winner, Clinton did not campaign in several key swing states, simply assuming that historical Democratic voting patterns of those states would continue.

But is Democratic panic justified?   Putting on my analyst's hat, the answer based on current data is a resounding "no."  Caveat...that may change as we move forward. But as things stand today, Joe Biden is still in very good shape.    

In doing my analysis of swing states, I used the FiveThirtyEight average of polls as of Monday, with one exception. When it came to Florida, because of well documented recent tightening of the race in that state, I used the RealClearPolitics polling average for Florida.  RCP has Biden with only a one point lead in Florida. (FiveThirtyEight had it at 2.6 yesterday, 2.3 today).

After obtaining those numbers, I allocated the undecided or uncommitted vote to the Biden or Trump.  It is usually the case that, in races involving an incumbent, undecided voters break in favor of the challenger.  But attempting to do a very conservative analysis, I chose to have the undecided voters break 60-40 in favor of Trump.

 Here's my electoral college map using the formula outlined above.


Click the map to create your own at 270toWin.com

As one can see, I was unsuccessful tipping Florida toward Trump.  But even if give Florida to Trump, Biden still wins 290-238. That's indeed close, but let's not forget, the analysis to begin with is extremely conservative by giving Trump 60% of the undecided vote.

The Biden campaign is being very smart in shoring up the candidate's weakness with Cuban-American voters in south Florida.  It does not hurt too that former New York City Mayor and businessman Michael Bloomberg is devoting $100 million to help Biden win Florida.  Although Biden does not need Florida to win the Electoral College, there is presently no scenario which has Trump winning the election while losing Florida.

OOP's Addendum:  
  • As I was writing this, Monmouth University, which has an A+ pollster rating from FiveThirtyEight, released a poll showing Biden leading Trump by 5 points in Florida.  
  • What about Biden's weakness among Florida Latino voters?  Well the Monmouth poll did not show that to be the case.  According to Monmouth, Biden has a 26 point lead when it comes to Florida Latino voters, very comparable to the 27% support Hillary Clinton had among that demographic group in 2016.
  • Monmouth has Trump leading by only 4 points with military veterans and their households, normally a conservative demographic.  Of all the poll respondents, 70% said Biden respects veterans and the military while 56% said Trump did.  
  • When it comes to white voters in Florida, Monmouth's poll shows Trump winning 56-39. While the 17 point Trump lead in this demographic is sizeable, Trump won Florida white voters by 30 points in 2016.

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