By Robert A. Vella
In my lifetime, 16 presidential elections have occurred. I have no memory of Dwight D. Eisenhower’s 1956 reelection, and I have only vague memories of John F. Kennedy’s victory in 1960. But, I do recall the other fourteen quite vividly. One of the things I remember is how the opinion polling fluctuated over the last few months of the campaign even in blowout elections. For example, Lyndon B. Johnson’s lead over Barry Goldwater in 1964 varied by 17 points from June to October even though he ended up winning by the largest popular vote margin since the largely uncontested 1820 election. Similarly, Richard Nixon’s lead over George McGovern in 1972 shifted by 8 points from May to November; and, Ronald Reagan’s lead over Walter Mondale in 1984 eventually reached 11 points after polling showed a statistical tie in January (see: Historical polling for United States presidential elections).
But, the 2020 polling hasn’t varied much at all. Look at this graph:
What is the reason for this historical anomaly? What makes the 2020 election so much different than even the 2016 contest four years ago between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump?
The answer is clear from an objective viewpoint. There has never been a U.S. president as divisive and radical as Trump. Even the standard-bearer of consensus opinion for the worst president in American history, Andrew Johnson, doesn’t come close to matching the widespread condemnation of Trump. He has a loyal following of cultish supporters representing roughly ⅓ of the electorate, and he has about another 7% which will vote for the GOP candidate no matter how much they disapprove of him, but that’s only 40-41% of voters. The above graph strongly suggests that the number of persuadable swing voters is approximately 3-5%. For Trump to win reelection, he will need to win nearly all of these undecided voters and offset defections from within his own party (see: Exclusive: Biden garners more Republican endorsements, this time from ex-governors) as well as new voter registration deficits in key states (see: New Voter Registration Numbers Suggest Momentum for Democrats) with successful voter suppression efforts (aided by Russia’s Vladimir Putin). In other words, Trump needs to pull an inside-straight like he did in 2016. Although he has the power of the federal government behind him this time, his highly unpopular record as president has also generated a tremendous amount of anti-Trump sentiment that far surpasses what he faced four years ago.
Divisiveness is a two-edged sword. It forces people to choose sides, but it only succeeds if the divider’s side is larger.
Here’s the news:
Biden’s 10 point and 6 point advantages are the exact same they were when CBS News/YouGov polled the contests before the party conventions.
The polls are reflective of a race that barely budges even after two conventions, protests and unrest in some cities over police brutality and as the nation navigates the coronavirus pandemic. Indeed, the stability of this race is record breaking when looking at polling dating back to 1940.
Biden has maintained leads not just nationally, but in the swing states that matter. He has been consistently ahead in states totaling 270 electoral votes, including the states Hillary Clinton won in 2016 and Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
Kevin McCarthy, the Republican Party’s top House lawmaker, has told Axios that President Donald Trump’s war on mail-in voting could backfire.
“We could lose based on that,” McCarthy told the outlet, saying he had personally addressed the issue with Trump.
McCarthy believes that Trump’s attacks could deter older voters — a key part of the GOP’s support who might also be worried about voting in person during the coronavirus pandemic — from voting by mail.
He is one of multiple top Republicans to break with the president over the issue, with several GOP senators having also backed mail-in voting.
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy was under pressure on Monday following a report that he and his company allegedly pressured employees to make political donations to Republican candidates.
Former employees of DeJoy’s company, New Breed Logistics in North Carolina, said they were reimbursed using bonuses after making the donations, according to a report by The Washington Post. This practice is illegal under campaign finance laws.
“Louis DeJoy’s rise as GOP fundraiser was powered by contributions from co. workers who were later reimbursed, former employees say,” said North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein.
“It is against the law to directly or indirectly reimburse someone for a political contribution.