All You Need To Know #14

US Presidential Election, 2020

This was an important week. The DNC ended two weeks ago, the RNC ended last week, and this was the first full week to judge how the conventions changed the trajectory of the race. So here’s what happened: not much.

Five Thirty Eight has a really good forecast page with lots of good data. One month ago, on the 5th of August, Trump had a 30% chance of winning. Today he has a 29% chance of winning. His high during that time has been 32%, and his low has been 27%. The narrow range combined with the low probability means that Trump is still in deep trouble and there are fewer and fewer days to significantly change the trajectory of the race.

So what about The Six States That Matter? Last week Biden was up by 2.7%, now he’s up by 3%. Here are the raw numbers:

Florida: 1.8% Biden
Pennsylvania: 4.2% Biden
Arizona: 5% Biden
Michigan: 2.6% Biden
North Carolina: 0.6% Biden
Wisconsin: 4% Biden

This means even if Trump overperforms these polls by 2%, winning both Florida and North Carolina, he still loses. He’d need to win his next best bet, Michigan, to score enough electoral votes. Now, he’s been behind in that state by about 4–8% for months, although he is showing a surge there right now. That’s something to keep an eye on.

Digging deeper into the internals, we’re seeing multiple polls point in the same direction: people aren’t buying the idea that burning suburbs are a big deal, and they’re surprised to see Trump’s poor handling of Covid and his desire to ignore the deaths and suffering.

This is an interesting Washington Post article that has some interesting stats.

39% approve/55% disapprove of Trump’s handling of Covid
78% are “very” or “somewhat” concerned about Covid
60% say Trump is at least partially responsible for the number of cases
13% are satisfied with how things are going

Taken together, it’s clear that people are having a tough time, think Covid is a real issue, and blame Trump for how poorly America has done with Covid. That’s not a good sign for his chances, which is why he pivoted hard to the “suburbs on fire” strategy. How’s he doing there? Not good.

57% of voters think peaceful protests should continue, despite violence
54% support ongoing boycotting by sports teams
35% are opposed to the protests
35% are opposed to the boycotts, presumably the same people

You see that “mid-30s” group all through US politics. That was the number that still supported George W Bush. That’s the number that didn’t support Obama when he was sworn in. That’s the number that Trump’s approval tends to float around. It’s Trump’s Base and they’re not going anywhere.

You could ask America any question, even settled one like Martin Luther King support, and you often see the same thing. If there’s any angle at all that can be considered liberal, progressive, or pro-equality, and you’d see the same number. 35% of people are going to disagree with it. It’s one of the most common and consistent numbers in politics.

So when you see that 35% are opposed to the protests, you can describe it as “about a third of the country agrees with Trump.” But when you look at it with the appropriate political context, you could also describe it as “literally zero people other than Trump’s base agree with him.”

Or take Covid. 39% approve of Trump, which you can accurately describe as “Trump’s base, plus about 4% extra, think he did a good job. And every other person thinks he did a bad job. On the most pressing issue facing the country and the world. With early voting starting soon.”

And you can’t win elections with that. That’s the good news.

See you next week!

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