The political conventions have come and gone and little has changed in the 2020 presidential election. Before the conventions, Joe Biden led Donald Trump by an average of 8.0 percentage points; after the conventions, Biden led Trump by an average of 7.6 points. (Click Here )
Trump continues to be unpopular; his latest ratings are 53.1 percent disapprove and 42.7 percent approve. (Click Here )
For Trump to win, external factors will have to intervene. Let's consider ten possible game changers.
1.The Presidential Debates: There will be three presidential debates: September 29 (Cleveland), October 15 (Miami), and October 22 (Nashville). (There will be a Vice-Presidential debate on October 7 (Salt Lake City).)
A recent USA Today poll found that 47 percent of respondents expected Trump to prevail, versus 41 percent who thought Biden would win. (Click Here) This is a curious result. In 2016 Hillary Clinton bested Trump in every debate. (Click Here) In 2012, Joe Biden defeated Paul Ryan in a Vice-Presidential debate. (Click Here )
The debates should be fascinating. I expect Biden to prevail.
2. Russian Intervention: Many believe that Donald Trump's 2016 electoral college edge was the direct consequence of Russian intervention: Millions of Russian-oligarch funds funneled into the Trump campaign via the NRA; Russian hackers providing key Clinton campaign emails to Wikileaks (Julian Assange); and Russians trolls manipulating social-media feeds to favor Trump in Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
The Russians are at it again, but there's more energy directed to protecting the vote. Specifically, there is more focus on social-media companies, such as Facebook, taking action to circumvent malignant Russian actions.
Recent New Yorker article observed that the impact of Russian disinformation is over stated: "Russian-produced disinformation certainly exists.... But compared with, say, Fox News pundits like Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity, let alone Trump himself, the perceived menace of Russian trolls far outweighs their actual reach." (Click Here )
(By the way: Reuters reports that the White House has systematically downplayed the possibility of Russian interference in the election (Click Here).)
I expect the Russians to screw up counting the vote in at least one swing state.
3. Money: Six months ago, when Joe Biden secured the Democratic presidential nomination, it was assumed Donald Trump would have a huge financial advantage, going into the campaign homestretch. Now it appears that Biden has the money edge.
Recent New York Times (Click Here ) revelations indicate that Trump's campaign team mismanaged their multi-million dollar financial advantage and now they are scrambling for funds. Biden is running ads in all the swing states and Trump in only a couple. (By the way, the Trump campaign appears to have conceded Arizona to Biden.)
For the remaining 7 weeks before the election, I expect Biden to have more money.
4. Enthusiasm: For months, the Trump campaign has boasted of their "secret" advantage: Trump supporters are more enthusiastic about Donald than Democratic voters are about Joe. (Of course "MAGA" voters are crazy about Donald; they are cult members.)
A recent Reuters poll ( Click Here) suggests the Republican narrative is false. "President Donald Trump's supporters are less motivated this election cycle than they were in 2016. Although non-college-educated whites comprise 44 percent of the electorate and were pivotal to Trump's 2016 victory, less of them support him this time around... his 12-point advantage in August is down from a 21-point lead in May, and well below the 34-point advantage he had over [Hillary] Clinton."
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