All You Need To Know #13

The 2020 US Presidential Election

The RNC ended last night, meaning both conventions are now well and fully behind us. So how are things looking overall? What’s the good news?

The battleground states have Biden up by 3%, the smallest lead he’s held since May. Trump has gone from 42% to about 45%, and that’s made a big difference. But that’s a bit broad. An analysis of each state tells a more nuanced picture.

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North Carolina, a state that rarely votes for Democrats, is a tie. It’s swung back and forth all cycle. Meanwhile, Biden is up 5.8% in Pennsylvania, a must-win state for Trump that he managed to win in 2016.

And what’s the average of 0% and 6%? 3%. So Trump may only be down by 3% on average, but the picture is much worse for him in the states he needs to win.

That band of light blue is why Trump is currently still in deep trouble. Each of those states have Biden up, meaning Trump could win 91 electoral votes of swing states (Florida, Arizona, Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio) and still lose if the rest of this map stays accurate. He’s in a giant hole.

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The Republicans needed to make Trump look sane and make Biden look insane, and I think they did ok at that. I was curious if Rally Trump or Teleprompter Trump would show up, and it was a bit of a split decision. There was plenty of crazy to go around, including from Trump himself, but when it came time to give his final speech Teleprompter Trump did the honours.

There’s a lot more to say about RNC week, but I’ll just point out that Biden’s ratings beat Trump’s ratings. No one would really care about obscure stats like that if it were anyone but Trump, but we know he cares deeply about numbers. Seeing himself fall short against Biden has got to be giving him a bit of heartburn this morning.

It’s clear what the framing will be for the remaining months of this campaign. Republicans are going to do their best to paint Joe Biden as Fidel Castro, and cities as lawless looter zones of despair. I think that message will work with a good number of people who look on the news and see burning cars and violent protestors.

Democrats, on the other hand, are going to point to 180,000+ deaths as a result of Covid and the government’s bad response. They’re going to point to rising homelessness, unemployment, and a nearly-unanimous feeling across the country that things are on the wrong track. It’s clear that this message resonates as well, and probably with more people than the GOP’s.

Jacob Blake is a black man who was shot seven times in the back, at close range, by a white police officer. Kyle Rittenhouse is a white teen who showed up at the protests with a rifle and killed two protestors. You’d think America would mostly be mortified about the shooting of Blake and the shooting by Rittenhouse. And that’s mostly been what’s happened. But something is definitely shifting in the discourse compared to last time.

When the protests happened a few months ago, activists won the hearts and minds because people saw mostly peace with some flares of violence. This time around, the question is if activists will win again or if Trump will be able to turn this into a “law and order” litmus test. If Americans stop supporting the peaceful protests — either because they’re violent or because they’ve run out of patience — then they could benefit the Republicans. It’s something to keep an eye on.

Fortunately, Joe Biden and his campaign are too smart to fall for dumb slogans like Defund the Police, or to forget to condemn violence. So Donald Trump can try as hard as he wants to paint Democrats as two-dimensional boogeymen, but I think most Americans see these issues as complex and nuanced. If I’m right about that, Democrats will again look like the adults in the room.

See you next week!

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