US election: is Biden heading in the right direction for a blowout victory?


With simply over three weeks to go till US election day, Joe Biden has a big polling benefit over Donald Trump, pointing to a possible blowout victory for the Democratic presidential challenger on November 3.

However few Democrats or election pundits are prepared to foretell a win for Mr Biden, having been stung by his rival’s sudden victory over Hillary Clinton in 2016. They warn that even small adjustments in voter turnout, or an sudden plot twist in an already tumultuous yr, may tip the scales again in Mr Trump’s favour.

A flurry of polls carried out because the first acrimonious presidential debate and Mr Trump’s hospitalisation for coronavirus present that Mr Biden’s lead has widened at a time when hundreds of thousands of Individuals have already voted or plan to take action earlier than election day, both by mail or in individual.

“If I used to be advising Biden, I actually wouldn’t be measuring for drapes but,” mentioned Mo Elleithee, govt director of Georgetown College’s Institute of Politics and Public Service and a former spokesman for the Democratic Nationwide Committee. “[This year] is so risky. Who is aware of? I might count on there can be a number of extra ‘October surprises’.”

Based mostly on its present projections, Priorities USA, the pro-Biden tremendous political motion committee, classifies 319 Electoral School votes as both “Democrat” or “lean Democrat”, in contrast with 188 “Republican” or “lean Republican”. A presidential candidate wants 270 Electoral School votes to win the White Home.

Line chart showing how Trump and Biden are doing in the US national polls

However Man Cecil, the PAC’s chairman, struck a cautious tone throughout a briefing on Friday, telling reporters: “Whereas now we have seen some enchancment within the general numbers over the course of the final month, we proceed to have a structurally steady and comparatively shut race.”

“Comparatively small adjustments” may nonetheless make a distinction within the Electoral School end result, he added.

A number of nationwide polls have not too long ago proven Mr Biden, the previous vice-president, forward by double digits, whereas an Monetary Occasions evaluation of RealClearPolitics knowledge places his lead at 9 factors. In a number of battleground states that maintain the important thing to successful the Electoral School, he’s additionally within the lead, albeit by a smaller margin.

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An FT evaluation of latest state polls offers Mr Biden an virtually seven-point benefit in each Michigan and Pennsylvania, and a six-point edge in Wisconsin — three Midwestern states that had been essential in Mr Trump’s come-from-behind victory in 2016.

Larry Sabato, director of the College of Virginia’s Middle for Politics, mentioned that the intensely polarised natured of US politics meant it was “arduous to think about” a Biden landslide akin to 1984, when Republican Ronald Reagan carried 49 out of fifty states and 60 per cent of the favored vote.

However he added that the president “seems to be doing the whole lot he can to create” such an end result, pointing to Mr Trump’s determination late final week to pull out of the second presidential debate.

“That was a chance for him to maneuver up,” Mr Sabato mentioned. “He’s the one who’s behind. Even his personal folks privately admit he’s behind, and never by just a little bit. They’re very nervous about it.” 

Chart showing registered US voters by party affiliation in key states (million)

Frank Luntz, a veteran Republican pollster, mentioned he didn’t perceive Mr Trump’s demand for the 2 remaining debates to be held nearer to polling day given what number of Individuals are planning to vote early.

“Donald Trump is simply too far behind to shut the hole if he doesn’t do two debates,” he mentioned. “There isn’t any low-hanging fruit any extra. There isn’t any one who has not made at the least an preliminary determination of who they lean in the direction of. The longer that he goes, the harder it turns into. Actually, the extra inconceivable it turns into.”

Amid considerations concerning the well being dangers of voting in individual on election day throughout the pandemic, at the least 9.1m Individuals have already voted, in keeping with the US Elections Project, a database compiled by Michael McDonald, a professor on the College of Florida.

Bar chart showing mail ballots cast and requested (million)

“You possibly can’t take a look at the polling and never be nervous that it will be a tough month,” mentioned Luke Thompson, a Republican strategist.

However Mr Thompson argued the president nonetheless had a path to victory, if the information cycle moved on from his personal sickness and if the state polls had been systematically undercounting Republicans.

The Trump marketing campaign has repeatedly mentioned that polls aren’t weighted sufficient to account for the variety of Republicans more likely to vote. Whereas Democrats keep an edge on Republicans by way of the variety of registered voters in a number of key swing states, the GOP has closed the hole in locations comparable to Pennsylvania and Florida.

Chart showing polls in key states

Nonetheless, the argument doesn’t concern most Democrats, notably the small quantity who’re prepared to say out loud that they count on Mr Biden to win comfortably in November.

“I feel this has the potential to finish up, if not a landslide by 1984 proportions, then an enormous victory, and far greater than we’re used to within the final 20 years,” mentioned Matt Bennett, co-founder of the Democratic think-tank Third Means.

“Persons are not more likely to go and say, I’m going to roll the cube and take an opportunity on this man who has been president for 4 years,” he added. “They know what they give thought to Trump. He’s not going to alter a number of minds between now and November 3.”


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