The 2020 Presidential and Senate nowcast: Trump finds his issue

The 2020 Presidential and Senate nowcast: Trump finds his issue

Here is my weekly update on the 2020 elections, based on State rather than national polling in the past 30 days, since that directly reflects what is likely to happen in the Electoral College. Remember that polls are really only nowcasts, not forecasts. They are snapshots of the present; there is no guarantee they will be identical or nearly identical in early November.

I am afraid I have some bad news for those who think Trump did not have a convention bounce. In the past week, disapproval has eroded by 1.9% and approval has increased by 1.5%. Both of these have moved over 3% from their recent nadirs. I am sorry to tell you that Trump’s attacks on violent protests have been effective, presumably by convincing some Whites who were previously on the fence that “the animals” are loose and have to be brought to heel:

This is probably why Biden had a press conference in which he unreservedly condemned the violence, and Trump has continued to attack anyway.


In any event, here is the updated map through September 5. To refresh, here is how  it works:

– States where the race is closer than 3% are shown as toss-ups.
– States where the range is between 3% to 5% are light colors.
– States where the range is between 5% and 10% are medium colors.
– States where the candidate is leading by 10% plus are dark colors.

There has been a spate of new polling, in which Biden’s numbers have generally weakened slightly, but without a major effect on the State totals. Nevada moved from “lean” to “likely” Biden, and Kentucky from “solid” to “likely” Trump. Conversely, both New Hampshire and Maine moved from “solid” to “likely” Biden.

Over the past 5 weeks, however, there has been an erosion in Biden’s “solid” plus “likely” Electoral College votes from 302 to 279. Even so, based on the current map Biden still just has to win the “solid” and “likely” States, and need not win any of the “lean Biden” States, in order to win the election.

There have also been several changes in the Senate map this week, and as the Presidential map, they have been in opposite directions:

On very sparse, as in 1, poll in the past month, Alaska moved from “likely GOP” to “toss-up,” and more importantly, heavily polled Iowa moved from “toss-up” to “lean Democrat.” Contrarily, South Carolina moved from “toss-up” to “lean GOP,” and Texas moved from “lean GOP” to “likely GOP.”

At current polling, if Democrats win all those seats rated “solid,” “likely,” and “lean Democratic,” they will have 51 Senate seats; up to 54 with the “toss-ups,” and 55 if they were to capture the “lean GOP” seat.

We are now at the Labor Day weekend. There is only one more jobs report before Election Day. Last Friday’s report continued to show progress, but at a slow rate. Trump will probably get a small boost out of the improvement in the economy, even though it is only to “less awful” levels. Meanwhile, new US coronavirus cases have leveled off at about 40,000 cases per day, while deaths have slowly declined to about 800 per day. The leveling off in cases suggests that we are not going to see any substantial improvement in the pandemic over the next few weeks. The public’s accurate perception that Trump has failed to contain COVID-19 is in my opinion now baked into the cake.

Thus I expect some continued incremental improvement in Trump’s position as voters who were leaning GOP “come home.” I see very little chance of a major Biden scandal, but a substantial chance that Trump will do something which will temporarily alienate several percent of voters.

In sum, I am comfortable saying that Biden will win a majority of the votes cast, or attempted to be cast, by the electorate. Trump’s hopes must be on interfering with the casting and counting of votes, and once again stealing an Electoral College victory by scaring Whites in the rust belt.