Why 2020 isn't 2016: Great minds
Why 2020 isn't 2016
- There are only a certain number of Never Trumpers (like the Lincoln Project), but there sure are a lot of Over Trumpers, people who are just plain sick of him. The constant drama, the scandals, the constant attacks, the corruption; he’s like a turd you can’t flush. No one wants to have a beer with him, he’s like the drunk at the bar who won’t shut up. Tim Alberta at Politico noted this. https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2020/10/20/alberta-two-weeks-2020-election-feelings-430238
- Joe Biden isn’t Hillary Clinton. He’s popular and likeable. None of the nonsense Hunter/Ukraine/QAnon scandals Trump’s flunkies have tried to invent have gotten any traction. Hillary was massively unpopular, and had been targeted for years with one phony scandal after another. Shortly before the election Gallup published word clouds associated with the candidates. The most dominant words associated with Clinton were “Emails”, “lie” and “scandal”. Sexism didn’t help either.
- Hillary lost because everyone thought she'd win: There was no urgency given her massive lead in the polls for most of the Fall, especially after the “Grab ‘em by the Pussy” tape. The large numbers of undecided and “don’t like either of them” voters had a free pass to vote for Trump or a third party to “shake them up in Washington”. Left leaning Democrats could either stay home or waste a vote on Jill Stein without reckoning with the consequences.
- Trump could run as an outsider in 2016, now he’s the status quo. It’s no secret that there were and are a lot of voters justifiably unhappy with the state of the country. At this point, that unhappiness is concentrated on Trump. The number of undecided voters is about a third of what it was in 2016, and the third party candidates are polling much lower this year.
- The Covid disaster and accompanying economic crash would by historical precedent make Trump’s re-election impossible. Ask Bush Sr. and John McCain what a crappy economy can do for your chances. My premonition of a Blue Tsunami is partly based on these real facts, with things only getting worse. Trump’s message “Who you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?” is running out of takers.
- Trump’s polling margins in a large number of key groups are drastically lower than in 2016, both among those he won and those he lost. The undecided voters, what’s left of them, seem to be breaking for Biden, similarly the “I hate ‘em both” crowd. His deficit with women and suburbanites was higher in 2018, and is getting worse. He’s trailing or on the verge with white women, and his margin with white men is way off. God knows he’s energized his base of MAGA know-nothings, but its just not big enough. Meanwhile Independents are breaking hard Blue.
- The crazy surge in turnout is good for Biden. It’s hard to tell whether its more 18-35 voters or Hispanics finally turning out, or black voters or other people who took a pass in 2016, but all of these groups should add to his margins. Republican early voting is high too, but there are fewer of them and are all of them voting for Trump? Independent EV is very high as well.
- Does money make a difference? You can make the case that Hillary proved it doesn’t, given she spent a lot more than Trump. However Trump managed to follow her bad example and piss away $1 billion or more without making a dent in the polls. I’m skeptical that the fact that the Ds have more money now is dispositive, but it can’t hurt.
- The polls could just as easily be underestimating the Biden vote. They underestimated Obama in 2012, and if you look at all the component groups and higher turnout already mentioned, it adds up to more than the “horse race” poll numbers which anyway, show Biden well ahead. Congressional District level polls are showing Biden leads closer to 14% than the national numbers. My guess at this point is that when this Blue Tsunami is over, Biden will have 360-plus Electoral votes (and maybe over 400 depending on Texas), and a Senate majority.
- But: I’m not basing this on the polls or poll aggregations: 538 is serviceable, but I think polls should reflect reality rather than the other way around. I’m a great fan of Rachel Bitecofer’s electorate based analysis which led her to predict the 2018 Blue Wave with accuracy down to the particular Congressional Districts. That said, the polls in 2016 were way off not just because of the Comey letter but because of underweighting non-college level and infrequent voters. Republican Chairmen across the country had noticed Trump voters coming out of the woodwork at the time of the 2016 primaries. So most of the polls have corrected the weightings and there are no more Trump voters left in the woodwork. Rather, the opposite is the case and voters will be coming out of the woodwork to vote against him, for the reasons I’ve given.