Friday, June 5, 2020

What If 2020 Is A Blue Tsunami Year

What if the 2020 presidential electoral map looked like this on November 4th. The trend and growing magnitude of negative polling results for Donald Trump this week and over the last few weeks show Trump is increasingly an underdog to reach the 270 electoral votes he needs to win a second term in the fall. A series of polls in swing and heretofore red states released Wednesday and over the past month make this reality clear.

* A Fox News poll in Arizona shows Joe Biden leading Trump 46% to 42%

* A Fox News poll in Ohio put Biden at 45% to Trump's 43%

* A Fox News poll in Wisconsin had Biden at 49% and Trump at 40%.

* A Quinnipiac University poll in Texas had the race at Trump 44%, Biden 43%.

* The latest Fox News and Quinnipiac University polls in Pennsylvania had Biden at 50% and Trump at 42%.

* The latest Fox News poll in Michigan had Biden at 49% and Trump at 41%.

* A poll of likely Michigan voters conducted this week by EPIC-MRA for the Detroit Free Press found Joe Biden now leads Trump in Michigan 53% to 41%, doubling his lead over the incumbent since January.

* The latest Fox News poll in Florida had Biden at 46% and Trump at 43%.

* The latest Civiqs poll in Georgia had Biden at 48 percent and Trump at 47 percent.

* The latest NBC News / Marist poll in North Carolina had Biden at 49% and Trump at 45%.

* The latest NBC News / Marist poll in North Carolina had Biden at 49% and Trump at 45%.

The latest CNN Poll of Polls this week shows 51% of registered voters nationwide back former Vice President Joe Biden, while 41% support President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential race.
The poll of polls includes the five most recent non-partisan, live-operator, national telephone polls conducted by high quality pollsters measuring the views of registered voters on the general election matchup between Biden and Trump.

The Poll of Polls includes results from the NPR/PBS Newshour/Marist College poll conducted June 2 and 3, the Monmouth University poll conducted May 28 to June 1, the ABC News/Washington Post poll conducted May 25 to 28, the Fox News poll conducted May 17 to 20 and the Quinnipiac University poll conducted May 14 to 18.

The new numbers represent a shift in Biden's favor since April, when the CNN Poll of Polls found support for Biden averaging 48%, while Trump averaged 43% support.
How bad are those numbers for Trump? Trump carried Ohio by 8 points and narrowly won Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan, by a collective 77,000 votes, helping him win 306 electoral votes in 2016. Trump’s path to 270 electoral votes and victory in 2020 without the electoral votes from those four midwestern states is less than narrow.

Now, let's look at what these polling trends suggest to Trump's chances of getting to 270 electoral votes in November with the help of

* If Trump loses Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin (and wins everywhere else he won in 2016), he loses to Biden 278 to 260.

* If Trump loses Arizona, Michigan and Pennsylvania (and wins everywhere else he won in 2016), he loses to Biden 279 to 259.

* If Trump loses Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin (and wins everywhere else he won in 2016), he loses to Biden 276 to 262.

* If Trump loses Arizona, Ohio and Wisconsin (and wins everywhere else he won in 2016), he loses to Biden 271 to 267.

* If Trump loses Texas (and wins everywhere else he won in 2016), he loses to Biden, 270 electoral votes to 268 electoral votes.

* If Trump loses Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin and also loses some other states he won in 2016 - Arizona, Ohio, and Florida - he loses to Biden 337 to 200. Add the loss of Texas to that line up of loses and he loses to Biden 375 to 162. Further add the loss of both N. Carolina and Georgia and Trump loses to Biden 406 to 131.

Most of Trump’s loss scenarios above are serious enough that he will also hand the Senate over to Democratic control for good measure.

The point here is not to say any of these electoral map scenarios are locked in, still 5 months away from the November 3rd election. Rather, they are to note that Biden has many different paths to 270 or more electoral votes, while Trump‘s path to 270 is increasingly steep.

Trump's best/most likely path to a second term would be to lose either one or both of Michigan and Pennsylvania and hold every other state he won in 2016. If he lost both Michigan and Pennsylvania, he would eke out a 270 to 268 electoral vote victory over Biden. If he lost only Pennsylvania, he would win with 286 electoral votes. Lose just Michigan, and Trump has 290 electoral votes and a second term. However, polling from those states suggests these win scenarios are slipping from Trump’s grasp.

As of now, Biden has more ways than at any point in the campaign to date to get to 270 electoral votes. And Trump has fewer. Could that change? Sure... but the trend of the last several weeks is surely no friend to Trump.

It’s important to put individual polls into context, and that context continues to show Biden’s in one of the best positions for any challenger since scientific polling began in the 1930s. There were more than 40 national public polls taken at least partially in the month of May that asked about the Biden-Trump matchup. Biden led in every single one of them. He’s the first challenger to be ahead of the incumbent in every May poll since Jimmy Carter did so in 1976. Carter, of course, won the 1976 election. Biden’s the only challenger to have the advantage in every May poll over an elected incumbent in the polling era. Biden remains the lone challenger to be up in the average of polls in every single month of the election year. His average lead in a monthly average of polls has never dipped below 4 points and has usually been above it. Trump’s position at this point in the election year is worse than Jimmy Carter’s 1980 position against Reagan and George Bush’s 1992 position against Bill Clinton and Ross Perot.

The key takeaway, based on recent polling is that Joe Biden is substantially outperforming both Hillary Clinton’s actual vote margin and her polling margin in 13 key states. On average, Biden is running more than six points ahead of Clinton’s 2016 margin in the polls. Clinton won the popular nation vote by 2 points - largely due to her very oversized win in California. Clinton’s election day performance in key individual states, particularly Wisc, Mich, and Penn, under performed her polling performance because black voters failed to turnout in expected numbers - signifigantly under performing prior years. So far this year, black voters are much more motivated to vote against Trump than they were in 2016.

Check out the chart comparing Clinton’s 2016 numbers to Biden’s numbers this year.

The Senate In A Blue Tsunami Year

Not that long ago, Republicans were a good bet to hold the Senate even though they held 23 of the 35 contested seats up for election this year. Measured by the recent trends in the polls, a passel of states now seem within Biden’s reach, many of them with incumbent Republican senators up for re-election. He’s competitive in Georgia, where both incumbent Republican senators will be on the ballot; he’s competitive even in Iowa, where Joni Ernst is up for re-election. And if Biden is going to make a real fight in Georgia and Iowa, and other states where he now look competitive, his get-out-the-vote effort will bring a lot of Democrats to the polls to help down ballot candidates.

It isn’t necessary for Biden to actually win a state to provide aid to a Senate candidate: In Montana, Democratic Governor Steve Bullock won re-election in 2016 while Trump was winning the state by 20 points. The most recent Presidential poll shows Trump leading in Montana by only five points; a margin that would give Bullock, now the Democrats’ Senate candidate, a real shot at unseating Steve Daines and flipping that seat to the Dems. A close race in North Carolina—which Trump carried by 3 1/2 points four years ago, and where he trails by four in the most recent survey—is a clear and present danger to Senator Tom Tillis. (Most recent surveys show Trump falling further behind Biden in the wake of his disastrous leadership in the George Floyd case.

Republicans currently hold 53 of the Senate’s 100 seats; Democrats will need a minimum net gain of three seats with a new, Democratic vice president to flip partisan control of the body. Of the 23 Republican-controlled Senate seats up for election this year, there are currently 13 seats in 12 states that offer plausible prospects for Democrats to defeat their Republican opponent.
  1. Susan Collins (Maine),
  2. Martha McSally (Arizona),
  3. Cory Gardner (Colorado),
  4. Steve Daines (Montana),
  5. Thom Tillis (N. Carolina),
  6. Open R (Georgia),
  7. Kelly Loeffler (Georgia),
  8. Joni Ernst (Iowa),
  9. John Cornyn (Texas),
  10. Open R (Kansas),
  11. Lindsey Graham (S. Carolina),
  12. Mitch McConnell (Kentucky), and
  13. Cindy Hyde-Smith (Mississippi)
The most at risk Republican seats are held by Colorado’s Sen. Cory Gardner, Maine’s Sen. Susan Collins, and Arizona’s Martha McSally — and the list of “at risk” Republican Senators is growing as members of the Party of Trump.
Pollster MCSALLY
37 50
41 51
INSIGHTS (5/9-11)
38 51

In Arizona,  appointed Republican Sen. Martha McSally already lost in 2018, and the whole state of Arizona seems to be moving strongly against Republicans. In that Fox News poll, Democratic presumptive nominee Joe Biden is leading 46-42.

In Colorado, no one is pretending that Republican Sen. Cory Gardner has any chance. With an approval rating of 38 percent, Trump will lose by double digits. Gardner’s approval rating with voters is below Trump’s approval so his seat is very like a flip for Democrats.

Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins saw her “moderate” veneer ripped away after voting both to acquit Trump in his impeachment trial, and voting to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Collins’ approval rating currently stands at just 37% and polling in May had Democratic candidate Sarah Gideon with a 51-42 lead. Collins ranks amongst the most unpopular senators in the country in a state that will solidly go blue this fall.
41 43
44 46
41 50
34 44

And in North Carolina, incumbent Sen. Thom Tillis is looking weak, weak, weak against Cunningham. Any incumbent below 45% is generally considered to be toast. People are looking for an alternative.

Losing Alabama but winning Arizona, Colorado, Maine, and North Carolina gets us to a 50-50 Senate. At this stage of the cycle, given current trends, this is the most likely outcome.

Georgia has two Senate seats in play: a regular election and a special one. The only recent polling is courtesy of Civiqs, which found both Senate seats effectively tied. The GOP has an edge in Georgia Because the state a Jim Crow-era law that requires candidates to win with 50% of the vote. If none get it in November, the top two vote-getters advance to a runoff election in January. Historically, the GOP has done much better in those runoff elections. I suspect this time will be different, but gut feelings don’t trump history. This is a true tossup for both seats.

Montana pits an incumbent Republicans against the current popular Democratic governor. Montana is notoriously difficult to poll, but the only one to try recently—a sketchy-looking Montana State University effort—had Democrat Steve Bullock ahead 46-39. Montana has a long history of split tickets—it currently has a Democratic governor and Democratic U.S. Senator despite being solidly red at the presidential level. However, Trump’s approvals in Montana have been in a steady decline over the last 12 months, from a net +12, to +4 today. And the worse Trump does in the state, even if he wins it, the fewer crossover votes Bullock needs to win.

Incumbent Iowa Republican Sen. Joni Ernst has been considered by many to be relatively safe earlier this year. Iowa looked like 10-point Win for Trump, and Ernst seemed to be cruising to reelection. But the coronavirus has hit Iowa hard, and the trade wars with China have hammered its farmers. And now, any hope of a positive resolution has evaporated as Trump has decided to blame China for his own failures. In fact, Trump’s approvals are underwater in Iowa 47-50, according to Civiqs’ daily tracker. Public Policy Polling’s most recent poll shows her Democratic challenger up 45-43. Civiqs has a poll in the field right now and we’ll have results next Tuesday or Wednesday.

Kansas — Yes, Kansas. Kansas’ high education levels and an ongoing civil war between the state Republican Party’s moderate and crazy wings put the state in play for the Democratic candidate.

Texas incumbent Republican John Cornyn isn't as hated as Ted Cruz, who was almost defeated in 2018. But the state is trending blue, and a Public Policy Polling poll released today showed the state a 48-48 tie in the presidential election. The demographic trends are certainly in our favor.

In Kentucky, Republican Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is unpopular, but he delivers more pork back to his home state than anyone else in the Senate. Democrat Amy McGrath is trying to unseat six-term Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell. Kentucky has not elected a Democratic senator in over 20 years, but according to recent polling, McGrath and McConnell are neck and neck. Before she can take McConnell head-on, McGrath still has to win the state's Democratic primary. There are still two other candidates in the running, progressive farmer Mike Broihier and state representative Charles Booker. The contest was scheduled for May has been pushed back to June 23 because of the coronavirus pandemic. She's also the most prolific fundraisers among Democrats with more than $14 million cash on hand. She even outraised McConnell by more than $5 million in the first three months of 2020, according to the latest federal campaign finance data.

For good measure, South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham is protected by the partisanship of his state that still gives Trump a positive approval rating. Civiqs has the race tied 42-42, but undecideds are heavily Republican and the state suffers from extreme racial polarization. Southern whites, in general, just don’t vote Democratic.

We are probably going to lose the Senate seat in Alabama. That was a temporary gift won in a special election against a child molester. And we still barely won. In a normal year, against a normal Republican, with Donald Trump at the top of the ticket? If Democratic Sen. Doug Jones wins reelection, we’ve got a 60-seat majority landslide.

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