All we hear these days is poll numbers showing Joe Biden being ahead of Donald Trump. But that doesn’t mean the election is over. As in 2016, the candidates both have low popularity, so the polls can shift with any news item. Emotions also matter. We’ve had articles saying that Trump would win in a landslide, and another, saying Trump’s negatives may cancel out his followers’ high enthusiasm. We also did an article about things that could happen to upset the election.
Here are more.
In every election, there’s a risk of an “October Surprise,” which will shake things up at the last minute. In 2016, that was the FBI’s October 29 decision to reopen its investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email issues. In that same election, the “Access Hollywood” tape, showing Trump’s attitude toward women was released on October 7. There’s always a risk that unexpected events will change people’s opinions.
1972: McGovern vs. Nixon
On October 26, 1972, twelve days before the election on November 7, the United States’ chief negotiator, the presidential National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger, appeared at a press conference held at the White House and announced, “We believe that peace is at hand.”. . .
1992: Bush vs. Clinton
In the Iran-Contra Affair. . . statements by Reagan Middle East specialist Howard Teicher that Bush knew of the arms deal in spring 1986 and an Israeli memo that made it clear that Bush was well versed in the deal by July 1986.
2000: Gore vs. Bush
Days before the November 7 election. . .1998 Democratic candidate for governor, confirmed to a reporter that Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush had been arrested for drunk driving in that state in 1976.
2008: McCain vs. Obama
On October 31, 2008, four days before the 2008 presidential election, [it was reported that the] half-aunt of Democratic candidate Barack Obama, was living as an illegal immigrant in Boston.
Monday, The Washington Post, suggested four ways Trump might win the election. Chief among them is the news that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg is undergoing chemotherapy again—at the age of 87. While Senate Leader Mitch McConnell established the principle of not confirming a Supreme Court Justice in the last full year of a president’s term, “Principles” such as that have a way of dying when the party in power sees an opportunity
1. An imminent Supreme Court vacancy
Justice Antonin Scalia died in February 2016, and Senate Republicans made the unprecedented decision to block the confirmation of President Barack Obama’s nominee to replace him, Merrick Garland. Polls showed Americans disagreed with that gambit.
But polls also showed that the vacancy likely accrued to Trump’s benefit. . .voters who emphasized the next Supreme Court pick tilted toward Trump, with 26 percent of Trump voters saying Supreme Court nominees were the most important factor in their vote. That compared with 18 percent of Hillary Clinton voters. . .
The upside for Trump here would seem to be the rallying of his base behind a common and very important cause. Whether Ginsburg or anyone else appears to be on the way out, expect him to again play up the importance of a GOP president appointing the next justice.
2. The likely voter switch
Polls this far from an election generally focus on registered voters, given it’s difficult to gauge who might actually turn out. But as the election approaches, pollsters will shift their models to emphasize likely voters — i.e. those who are not just registered but actually primed to vote. . .
In the head-to-head among registered voters, Biden led Trump by 13 points. In a model adjusting for high turnout, Biden’s lead dropped to 10. And in a model adjusting for low turnout, Biden’s lead shrank to seven points. . .
Some election post-mortems suggested likely-voter screens in some key states actually made Clinton’s lead look slightly bigger than it was.
3. Biden’s flubs
One thing that has followed Biden for just about as long as he’s been in politics is his tendency to commit gaffes. . .
There’s an argument to be made that gaffes matter less and less in an election in which both candidates have such tendencies. But each of the last two campaigns have seen such memorable flubs by the loser — Mitt Romney and his “47 percent” comment and Clinton and her “basket of deplorables” comment, which she has said was a “gift” to Trump.
Perhaps the real danger for Biden, though, is that an accumulation of them could undercut the idea that he’s a steadier leader in the face of crises and other big challenges.
4. The unprecedented coronavirus factor
But there’s another unpredictable way in which the virus could impact the election: by affecting turnout. . .Polls suggests the coronavirus outbreak is a clear and growing negative for Trump as we head into the meat of the 2020 general election. . . a continued bad outbreak would prevent people who don’t vote by mail from turning out in person. And who is more likely to turn out in that situation? Perhaps people who are less concerned about the virus, who polls have repeatedly shown are disproportionately Republicans and Trump supporters.
Many states are moving toward mail-in balloting, for instance, but the GOP is fighting that. . . It doesn’t mean this will necessarily help one side or the other; it just means that we’ve never truly dealt with this kind of thing in modern political history.
There’s still a long way to the election, and a lot that could go wrong—or right. What if Jared Kushner’s ridiculed Middle East peace plan suddenly seemed workable? What if China surrenders its goals? What if North Korea or Iran suddenly give up all nuclear hopes?
Domestically, what if people started wearing masks, causing Covid-19 to end, allowing the economy to get back on track? Conversely, what if Trump succeeds in pushing kids back to school in September, only to see a massive outbreak of Covid-19 in October?
A lot of things could happen between now and November 3. Trump has been counted out many times, and has often ended up winning, even when he has declared bankruptcies.
Anyone who thinks he can’t turn things around has not been paying attention.