All You Need To Know #1
Hello! My friend asked if I could summarise good news about the US Presidential Election in a podcast form. And that led to this, my inaugural edition of “All You Need To Know,” a quick summary of what’s going on with a focus on the positive.
So let’s talk about what positive means. First, we’re defining positive as “Donald Trump no longer being president of the United States of America.” Second, positive shouldn’t mean cherry-picked good news while ignoring reality. That’s what Mitt Romney did in 2012 when he was so convinced of his own win that he didn’t even write a concession speech, despite all the polls showing him trailing badly. It’s my goal to highlight reasons to be cheerful, in an electoral sense, while still being realistic about what the data is telling us.
Here’s an example. Overly optimistic thinking would lead someone to say that the Democrats will take the House, Senate, and the White House in a clean sweep. An overly cautious analysis would say the Senate is out of reach for Democrats. But I’d stress the data is telling us something in between: the Democrats probably won’t take the Senate, but their chances have never been better, and they even seem to be improving. That’s good news!
Let’s dive deeper. There are 50 Senate seats that are highly likely to go to the Republican candidate and 46 that are highly likely to go to the Democratic one. That leaves 4 as true toss-ups. If it’s a big year for Democrats, it’s absolutely possible that all four toss-ups follow the national momentum into the Democratic column, awarding the Senate to the Democrats as long as Joe Biden wins. (Because of course in a 50/50 split, the Vice President would cast the deciding vote.)
So! How’s Joe doing as of today, the 14th of June? Amazingly well. The one concerning question is why he’s polling worse with Latinos than Hillary Clinton was at the same point. But pretty much everything else is rosy. How rosy? So rosy that people are marking Texas down as a swing state this cycle. TEXAS.
Now, let’s be clear. The chance that Biden actually wins Texas is pretty small. But the demographic trends are showing that Texas should turn blue by 2030. If that happens, the current GOP, with the current climate, and the current electoral college, would never win a federal election again. The fact that Republicans even have to think about Texas makes political strategists like me giggle. It would be like if liberal hippie California suddenly flipped to the Republicans. It would change the whole map in ways we can’t even fathom, and the data tells us it will happen in a few more cycles.
So let’s talk about The Map, because it’s something I’ll be touching on in every single edition of this podcast. America doesn’t choose presidents based on the popular vote, so instead we have to look at who’s winning each state, then count it all up to see who will win. In this cycle, there are only six states to worry about. Let’s just call them that: The Only Six That Matter, because the results of the other states simply aren’t in doubt. We know California is going blue, and we know Texas is going red. So which ones are truly up in the air this time around?
Florida (29 votes)
Pennsylvania (20 votes)
North Carolina (15 votes)
Michigan (16 votes)
Arizona (11 votes)
Wisconsin (10 votes)
Biden only needs to win a few to remove Trump from the White House, and he leads in each state except North Carolina, where he’s tied. If these numbers hold, they’d result in a landslide victory for Biden. Even bigger than Obama’s margin, and certainly bigger than Trump’s win over Clinton. That’s why Trump’s advisors are in full meltdown mode right now. If you want Trump to lose, these numbers are absolutely delicious. So let’s take some time to savour them.
In Florida, the biggest prize, his polling average leads Trump by 3.4%. For a battleground state, that’s massive. Pennysylvania, the second biggest prize, has him up 3.3%. North Carolina, always a stretch for Democrats, has Trump up 0.3%, which is a tie. But the two most recent polls have Biden up 2.5%, so despite being a tie, it’s trending away from Trump. Michigan is a lost cause for Trump; Biden is up 7.3%. Arizona, another heavy lift for Democrats, has Biden up 3.4%. Finally we’ve got Wisconsin with a comfortable 4.0% lead for Biden.
If your only good news as a Trump strategist is “at least we’re barely tying in North Carolina, a state that has voted for the Republican 10 out of the last 12 elections,” then you’re not having a very fun time this week.
Speaking of the fact that no one is having a good time this week, let’s talk about the racial unrest sweeping America right now, and how badly Trump is handling the moment. I’ll talk more about specific poll numbers next time, but here’s a little taste.
Americans support the protests in large numbers, Trump didn’t. American opinions of the the Black Lives Matter movement have skyrocketed in the last few weeks, and Trump is in the minority there as well. The majority of Americans support police reform and Trump doesn’t. The New York Times Bestseller lists are packed full of anti-racism books this week, and Trump’s two big stands were calling a 75 year old protestor with brain damage a terrorist and refusing to rename army bases that are currently named after pro-slavery confederate soldiers.
Now, that’s to be expected from Trump, and until this week, from his own party. But the army bases will, in fact, be renamed. Why? Because the Republican-led committee that’s in charge of the decision broke with Trump this week, alongside the Pentagon itself. It’s hard to over-state what a big deal this is. It has happened almost zero times in Trump’s presidency and now these sorts of things are happening every day.
Expect to see more cracks to emerge from the support Trump gets from his allies, whether the military, the Senate Republicans, Fox News, and even registered Republicans. The more Trump looks like a loser in November, the more elected officials will do the math and be comfortable challenging him.
And that’s the good news. See you next week.
Up next: Episode 2