Yesterday I updated the poll numbers and they showed what they have been showing for the past several months, namely, that Joe appears to be on his way towards winning the 2020 campaign. But I would be presenting an overly optimistic view of the campaign if I didn’t also explain why Trump’s path to victory remains fairly clear and certainly can be done. Here’s how and why.
There are 23 states that have voted red in every Presidential election since 2000. Together, these states are worth 191 electoral votes (EV). Trump is comfortably ahead in 21 of these states, the exceptions being Georgia and Texas, together worth 54 EV’s. Right now Trump has less than a one-point lead in both those states, so if he doesn’t end up in the W column in both places, he can’t grab the brass ring. But for the moment, let’s assume that he keeps Texas and Georgia red. What else does he have to do?
What else he has to do is win in a combination of the following states which would add up to 79 EV’s: IA, FL, MI, NV, NC, NM, OH, WI and PA. These are the states that have not always been either red or blue since 2000, and right now Trump is ahead in two of them – Iowa and Ohio – by less than 2 points in each. If he wins these two states along with Georgia and Texas, his EV number goes to 215, which leaves him 55 EV’s short of where he needs to be.
As of this morning, Trump’s behind in Florida and North Carolina by a total of 3.2 points – two points in Florida, 1.2 in NC. If he pulls ahead in those two states by the end of the campaign, he gets another 44 EV’s. In other words, if Trump wins Iowa, Ohio, Florida and North Carolina, all states where he and Joe are effectively tied, he still needs to win at least one of the following states – Michigan, Arizona, Pennsylvania – in order to claim the big prize. If he wins Wisconsin, he still needs to add another state.
Right now, Trump is behind by 4.5 points in Arizona, and taken together, the most recent polls find him behind by 7 points. In Michigan, Joe is ahead by 7.5 points, and the polls added yesterday have him up by 10 points. The only one of these states that’s really close is PA, where Joe leads by 4.5 points but the most recent polls show the gap to be less. But even if Trump wins Pennsylvania, he still needs at least two more states.
What did Al Neri say in Godfather II when Michael Corleone asked him if they could rub out Hyman Roth when the old gangster returned to the United States? Difficult, not impossible. I can’t think of a better way to describe the current state of the Trump campaign.
If you’re going to mess around with poll numbers, however, there’s one thing you need to understand. Because it’s assumed that every pollster is polling a different group of respondents, the percentage of voters put up for both candidates on any given day is actually an average of what the polls for that state have reported over the previous week. So whatever number I am using to calculate each candidate’s EV’s, it may not be a number which accurately represents the real feelings amongst the electorate on any given day.
The good news for Joe’s campaign right now is that the Sedaris dog-shit number, both nationally and in most states, is down to 7 points or less, which means that neither candidate can count on a sudden, last-minute flood of votes. It’s also the case that in every competitive state the Libertarian vote is around 2 percent, which means there’s no conservative wiggle-room for Trump in 2020 the way there was in 2016 when Libertarians were 7% of the voters polled before the actual vote.
In sum, right now I’d rather be Joe than Trump. But ‘difficult, not impossible,’ should remain what we all force ourselves to think every day.