OUR ELECTION PREDICTION:
JOE BIDEN WINS
“No, you,” I said.
It was the day before the final voting day, which in normal times, has been called Election Day, and Mr. O, the politically savvy opossum, and I had decided we would make a prediction. It was sunny, but cold and wicked windy in our backyard, so we decided to keep the meeting short.
“Biden,” I said.
“Biden,” he said.
“The pollsters,” I said.
“You’re kidding,” Mr. O said. “Remember what happened in 2016?”
“Of course,” I said, “which is the reason I’m not crazy about making any predictions.”
“But why rely on the pollsters this time?” Mr. O asked.
“Realistically, we have nothing else to go on,” I said. “And the people who got it wrong the last time say they’ve tried to overcome the problems that led them – and the rest of us – down the wrong path. And they all are hedging – saying that Trump has a chance to win again.”
I pointed out the average, as tallied by RealClearPolitics, which showed Biden ahead, with a projected 50.7 percent of the vote, compared to 44 percent for Trump, a 6.7 point lead. Further, the “battleground states” had Biden with an average 2.6 percentage points lead.
The final polls more or less comport with how we already viewed the race. Mr. Biden ends the race up by more than eight points nationwide — the largest lead a candidate has held in the final polls since Bill Clinton in 1996. He’s up by at least five points in states worth more than 270 electoral votes, the number needed to win. Beyond that, he’s got at least a nominal lead in states worth 350 electoral votes, and he’s just a 2012 polling error away from a sweeping landslide of more than 400 electoral votes.
The real reason Mr. Trump still has an outside shot is simple: As in the final tallies of 2016, he still has a relative advantage in the states likeliest to decide the election compared with the nation as a whole. If you go down the list of states from best to worst for Mr. Biden, you’ll find that his 270th electoral vote would come from Pennsylvania, where he leads by just over five points. That’s a serious deficit for Mr. Trump, but it’s a lot better than his eight-plus-point deficit in the national vote. If Pennsylvania was Biden plus-8, like Michigan or the nation, it would be really hard to see a path for the president.
Biden’s chances of winning hover between the high 80s and low 90s in our forecast. Don’t get too obsessed with the exact number. What’s important to remember is that Biden is favored, but there is still a path for Trump. Trump might be the underdog, and he needs a big polling error in his favor, but bigger polling errors have happened in the past.
“AND YOUR REASONS for predicting a Biden win?” I asked Mr. O.
“It’s simple,” the marsupial said. “Trump is a terrible president and a danger to the world.”
“Well, bad things happen to nice planets,” I said.
“All the time,” Mr. O said. “But Trump has had four years of lucky breaks in which he’s escaped accountability, from the Hollywood Access tapes to the Mueller Report to impeachment, to supposedly coming down with Covid-19 and recovering, and it’s time all of that comes to an end. At some point, justice has to kick in.”
“What troubles me the most,” Mr. O continued, “is that if, indeed, Trump gets the boot, it will be because of the way in which he’s handled the Covid-19 pandemic, or I should say, not handled it.”
“It’s an ungodly price for everyone else to pay,” I said. “More than 9.3 million people infected, and 231,510 dead.”
“It IS too high a price,” Mr. O acknowledged. “But probably had not the pandemic occurred, Trump would have easily been elected to a second term on the basis of the economy.”
“ONE FINAL MATTER,” I said. “ What if we’re wrong, the pollsters are wrong and Trump is reelected? We’ve been saying for years that the country, at least as a democracy, is dead. We’ve barely survived the first four years. What would we do for the next four?”
“First, we would have to admit that we’ve been wrong about that,” Mr. O said. “We would have to say that we can survive; the country can survive; and that we'll just have to keep on fighting.”
“But it would be a terrible four years,” I said.
“Worse than you or I can imagine,” Mr. O said.
“Which would be no excuse to give up,” I said.”
“Really,” he agreed. “It’s not like there'd be another choice.”