As we learned in 2016, we must never count out Donald Trump. By every single metric, 2016 was a surefire win for Hillary Clinton. Going into election day, Clinton had a seven-point lead in the national polling average, and a six-point lead in key states like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. As we all know, the polls got it wrong.
This year finds us in a similar position.
Biden holds roughly a seven-point lead in the national polling average, and a three-point lead in the battleground states; despite this, I believe that this is Trump’s election to lose. Because he is the incumbent, enthusiasm within his base is high, and a shift in momentum in polling is possible. The president has the election within his control.
Trump running as an incumbent gives him a huge advantage over Biden, giving him the ability to run off his accomplishments from his previous term, and whether you like him or not, he has an impressive resume. Prior to COVID-19, unemployment was at an all time low, four million jobs had been added, median household income was at all time high, and 3.9 million people had been taken off food assistance. Then when you look abroad, he was able to renegotiate NAFTA, defeat the ISIS caliphate, and help facilitate peace deals between Israel and the UAE, Israel and Bahrain, and Serbia and Kosovo. These accomplishments, combined with the fact that Trump has raised serious questions as to Biden’s mental fitness, have made this race much tighter than people anticipated.
There is no doubt that the enthusiasm around Trump is significantly higher than the Biden campaign. Polls show that roughly 81% of Trump’s voters are voting for Trump rather than against Biden, while only 35% of Biden’s base is voting for him rather than against Trump. Trump’s base is also extremely confident in his reelection chances. Polling shows that 90% of Republicans believe Trump will win. Regardless of political views, 56% of Americans believe Trump will win reelection. Trump and his entourage have also been on the road campaigning in key swing states, holding large rallies and boat parades despite concerns over COVID, while Biden has not. This has led to Republicans adding significantly more newly registered voters in these states. There is enthusiasm within the Republican party.
Earlier in the summer, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that Trump would lose. Biden was up as much as thirteen points in national polls, and he led in virtually every battleground state. Since then, there has been a clear swing of momentum in Trump’s favor. As of now, Biden still holds a significant yet diminished lead in national polling, and Trump has taken the lead in key swing states in the sunbelt according to a recent Washington Post/USA Today poll. Recent polling also suggests that Trump has significantly closed the gap in what were considered safe states for the Democrats, including Minnesota, Nevada, and New Hampshire. This has caused Biden to have to spend time and resources on these states that could otherwise be used on Florida or Pennsylvania. If these polls are accurate, then once again, the election will come down to Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Biden would then have to win all three of them in order to win the election. If Biden is relying on all these states to win, then Trump has to like his chances.
If there’s any message that I wanted to get across here, it’s to get out and vote if you are able to. No matter if you vote for Trump or for Biden, our democracy depends on the people getting out to vote. The polls got it wrong in 2016, and they could very well get it wrong again. So if you are a Democrat, don’t take anything for granted. You saw what happened last time. And if you’re a Republican, this race is a toss up, Trump’s reelection depends on you.