2020 Vision: The Eleventh Hour
Nearly 90 million votes have already been cast in early voting across the country. Polls from the most accurate pollsters of 2016 show Trump leading in most battleground states or statistically tied. Will election day voters put Trump over the top? Will vote counting go on endlessly and delay the results?
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Early Voter Turnout
Nearly 90 million people have turned out to vote in early voting or have mailed their absentee or “mail in ballots.” This constitutes about 43% of total voter registration nationally. In 14 states a majority of ballots have been cast. This is also 66% of the total number of votes cast in the 2016 election. The “conventional wisdom” and polling data suggests that former Vice President Joe Biden holds a lead in this early voting, although how much of a lead is questionable. Republican voter turnout has been only slightly lower in early voting than Democrat turnout. With so many crossover votes anticipated, it is not at all clear how these votes will come out. It is true, however, that the counting of these votes can begin immediately as the polls close. As precincts report in with the totals for in person voting, the results should be clear on election night itself.
What of election day voters? According to a CBS poll, election day likely voters are about 2-to-1 in favor of President Trump. These could be as many as some 50 million voters. There is also the matter of President Trump’s 51% approval rating as we approach the election, two points higher than Barack Obama’s in 2012. In a twist, the Democrats have abandoned traditional election campaign tactics of “ground game and GOTV” for running ads, bludgeoning social media users with ads reminding them to vote, and texts. The Democrat Party, now the Optimates (to borrow a term from the Roman Republic) representing the established wealthy elite, have vastly outspent President Trump and conservatives (the Populares) and hope that this will carry them through.
Meanwhile, the GOP has been out registering voters nationally for four years, has a traditional ground game, and has enough funds to run the usual ads. None of these new registered voters have been accounted for in the polling models which are based upon the 2016 results. Their votes could certainly sway the election. Then there are the President’s rallies which draw crowds of tens of thousands, many of them registered Democrats. The President has held as many five each day as election day looms. The President has been barnstorming through critical battleground states as he enters the final stretch. Joe Biden has barely managed to get out at all, and his rallies are not well attended.
In the course of discussing voter scenarios and doing math in a conversation with a friend, I decided to run through a scenario to look into the numbers given early voter turnout. There have been some alarms sounded by Democrats that Biden’s lead in early voting may not be as substantial as they had hoped. Given the high margin of support for Trump, these ballots would have to be nearly 60-40 for Biden in order to offer him even a squeaker of a win. If 55% of early votes were cast for Biden, that is nearly 50 million of the 90 million votes, rounding for simplicity. That would leave the election at this point at 50 million for the former Vice President and 40 million for President Trump. Nearly 50 million more voters turned out in 2016. Assuming the total turnout is about the same and given the 2-1 preference for the President among election day voters, that means 33 million more votes for Trump on election day and 17 million more for Biden. That leaves Joe Biden at 67 million, approximately, and President Trump at 73 million. This would likely generate a landslide win in the Electoral College.
Late voters are another matter. These can be unpredictable. Several states have sought delays to be able to receive ballots up to two weeks after the election has taken place (these must be post marked no later than election day). Given the history of ballots appearing out of nowhere, being found in trunks of cars, and such in past elections, the opportunity to fraud and manipulation in these votes is a serious problem. The federal courts have allowed several days in some states and up to two weeks in others to receive ballots. There is no consistency in these ruling and this opens the door to legal maneuvers. Rudy Giuliani has a team of lawyers ready to go to work to fight fraud and corruption to protect the sanctity of the election. President Trump needs a fraud proof margin of victory. Therefore, his base needs to turn out absolutely every vote and take nothing for granted.
Finally, there is the small matter of blue states and Democrat leaders in battleground states reimposing virus lockdowns conveniently days before the election in an effort to scare voters from the polls. Will these scare tactics work? We can only hope that voters go to their precincts boldly and without fear or hesitation.
The Final Wild Card
In an election that has seen race baiting and inner-city riots, minority voters are a wild card in this election. Rasmussen has 31% of African-American likely voters voting for President Trump. Given the distribution of black voters in battleground states that would make a win for the former Vice President very unlikely. Younger African-American voters are apparently considerably less enthusiastic about voting for Joe Biden only 42% of 18-29 year-olds were “very enthusiastic” to vote for the Democrat candidate. In Florida in particular, the President has been polling well among Latinos and especially in the Cuban exile community. How will minority votes impact the election? We will know tomorrow.
Eleventh Hour Polls
A last round of polls. These polls are from the Trafalgar Group which was among the best at predicting the results of the 2016 election.
My own prediction for the Electoral College.