We are only two weeks out from election day and the picture looks quite grim for Donald Trump and the Republican party. After a horrendous debate performance and catching Covid-19, Trump’s campaign is in freefall. The national polling average shows Biden with a double-digit lead and almost all swing state polling is leaning towards Biden as well. In addition, most election models show the Democratic Party winning both the Senate and House.
Understandably, Democrats are reluctant to celebrate early after the 2016 election. But they should breathe a little easier this time around. This race resembles the 2008 race more than it does 2016. That election ended in a landslide for Democrats and Biden may be in an even better position than Obama was then. On this day in 2008, Obama led McCain by a margin of 6.8 points (49.5–42.7) nationally according to the RealClearPolitics average. Biden leads by 9.0 points (51.3–42.3) today. Obama ended up winning by 7.3 points and won the Electoral College 365–173, a landslide for modern times. Currently, if the swing states went to the candidate in the lead, Biden would win the Electoral College 357–181 and that doesn’t include Ohio where Trump only leads by 0.1%.
In 2016, Clinton led the majority of the race but there were always a lot of undecided or third-party voters. Clinton rarely cracked 46% in national polling and her lead going into Election day was only three points. Both Trump and Clinton had incredibly low favorability numbers which led to many voters either sit out, vote third party, or take a chance on Trump. That dynamic doesn’t really exist in the 2020 race. Biden is generally liked while Trump still tops out around 43% favorability on a good day and national and state polling consistently has Biden receiving more than 50% of the vote, something that Clinton only did twice in 2016 national polling. There are also virtually no undecided voters at this point, 3-5% compared to 10% four years ago.
One other area where Biden is outperforming Clinton is among senior voters. Voters above the age of 65 really like Joe Biden. A recent report from Morning Consult shows Biden leading seniors 52–44 over Trump. 2016 exit polls showed Trump winning this demographic 56–41. That is a monumental shift — a 23-point swing in the Democrats’ favor. Seniors are more likely to vote than any other age demographic and this is an area where Democrats have struggled to win in the past.
Overall, Joe Biden has held a consistent lead nationally for almost all of 2020 with some fluctuations between 6 and 12 point leads. Trump has led in only two national polls all of 2020 — one in early September from Rasmussen showing him up one point, and Emerson had him leading by four points in February while Biden was being clobbered early in the Democratic primary.
Trump has run a poor campaign and has mishandled every situation he was confronted with. On the other side, Joe Biden has done little to derail his campaign. The worry was that Biden is prone to gaffes and his health is not great. He has run the perfect campaign, letting Trump self-destruct while being a calming reassuring presence to moderate and older voters.
This could have been a different race had Trump tried at all to be a normal candidate. Early in the pandemic at the start of April, Trump actually saw his best approval ratings since the start of his Presidency. He was giving daily briefings and mostly deferring to the experts like Dr. Fauci. This didn’t last long. Soon enough, Trump would begin to spread misinformation about the virus and throw out wild suggestions for cures. This, combined with his reluctance to fully throw his support behind masks has really hurt his credibility on handling the pandemic. Joe Biden consistently beats him on this topic with voters.
Next, we had the George Floyd protests over the summer. This led to local police departments using excessive force on protesters across the country. The videos were all over social media and the Black Lives Matters movement grew stronger than ever. And instead of trying to be a unifying voice, Trump tweets out things like “LAW AND ORDER”. It was another terrible decision by a one-dimensional candidate. Then, he used federal forces to clear protesters for a photo-op, an unprecedented use of power. Americans, now stuck at home or in the streets protesting had enough at this point.
The one issue where Trump does lead Biden most of the time is the economy. Even on this issue, Trump has managed to screw it up. The CARES Act, although not perfect, did a lot of good things like providing stimulus checks to most Americans and providing supplemental benefits to the unemployed during the height of the pandemic. But, the benefits ran out and Trump has failed to rally his party to agree to provide more relief. His mixed messaging has led to confusion on who is to blame for the lack of response. Therefore, Trump takes the hit.
There is also the refusal to clearly denounce white supremacy in the first debate and QAnon in his town hall Thursday. Trump could have avoided a lot of this. He could have done a myriad of things to help his campaign instead of praying the Supreme Court saves him. He should have asked all Americans to wear masks in public and not sow doubt on the threat of the virus. He should have come out stronger for a second round of economic relief. And he shouldn’t have used federal forces to quell protests and defend a murderer in Kyle Rittenhouse. But at the end of the day, he’s Donald Trump. He is the same evil and racist man that ran in 2016. The difference is he isn’t running against another uniquely unfavorable candidate and he isn’t some outsider to politics anymore.
I’m not sure if Trump actually believes the polls are fake but his supporters definitely do. They think this is a very close race that Trump will win again. I have some news for them: Trump is going to lose. He may try to delegitimize the election and steal it, but there is no doubt that Joe Biden will get millions of more votes and more electoral votes. His campaign’s failure to have a strong message or attack against Joe Biden and his administration’s failures over this year have kneecapped his chances at winning. Barring an unprecedented collapse, Biden will win November 3rd and win big.