There’s much for the Trump campaign to worry about. Given the polls, empty campaign coffers, the shambles of the economy, coronavirus, and a bloody SCOTUS fight, victory seems remote. But being the underdog is a Trump hallmark, and you can drive a pretty good size truck through the gaps to give him a victory in November. All it takes is a victory by one electoral vote to win.
As the New York Times and uber-statistician Nate Cohn note, there are plenty of scenarios where Trump can narrowly claim victory. The race is so narrow that a one Sigma swing by 2016’s error margin is the difference between a Biden landslide and a Trump re-election.
…If Mr. Biden outperformed today’s polls by just two points, he would be declared the winner early on election night. Florida would be called by around 8 p.m., and Texas could be the state that makes Mr. Biden the president-elect. (Yes, Texas). He’d have a good shot at the largest electoral vote landslide since 1988.
But if Mr. Trump outperformed the polls by the same margin, suddenly we’d have an extraordinarily close race on our hands, potentially waiting days or weeks while mail-in votes were counted in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.
According to the latest polls and Cohn’s analysis, the race comes down to bellwether states Pennsylvania and Florida. Obviously, if Georgia goes Democrat, that’s a meaningful change. But PA and FL are going to set the race in stone.
Regardless of the polls, Trump still has the advantage. If this was baseball, Team Trump would bat the lineup every inning, while Biden gets three pitches. Trump has the momentum (both for and against himself) and the advantage in media, narrative, and events. The media can downplay his victories all they want, but the victories (like the Middle East Abraham Accords) still happened.
The government will not shut down due to the last-minute deal in Congress. A coronavirus vaccine is being developed and tested as quickly as possible (“Warp Speed”) regardless of the warnings the press publishes about a fall spike. And a Supreme Court nominee will be named and the Senate will hold hearings and have a vote in the next 42 days.
These things will happen, and Trump’s path to victory remains quite large given the pace of events and news cycles. Polls lag, they don’t predict. If the election was held today, I think Trump would probably lose, but it would be close. But he could win tomorrow’s mock election.
On November 3, even with a massive number of mail-in ballots, early voting, and a cash advantage, Trump knows that it only takes 270 electoral votes to win, and he only has to win by one vote. Watch Pennsylvania and Florida. If they start to swing, that means the change already happened.
Feel free to trust the polls, but they are not going to predict this race. And on November 4th (or 10th or whenever the last ballot is counted), there could be a lot of pundits with egg on their face.