Is Trump Really Only a Few Percentage Points Away from 270 Electoral Votes?

Elections
President Donald Trump gestures at a campaign rally at Prescott Regional Airport, Ariz., October 19, 2020. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

Assume, for a moment, that Trafalgar’s Robert Cahaly is correct that pollsters are still missing groups of Trump voters, because passionate Trump foes are the kind of people who are most eager to talk about the phone about politics for 20 to 30 minutes.

Assume this phenomenon means that the final vote count will be, say, four percentage points better for President Trump than the current RealClearPolitics averages.

With Joe Biden leading the national vote by 8.9 percentage points, he will still win the national popular vote by a wide margin, but as we all know from 2016 and 2000, that doesn’t count for anything under the Constitution.

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In Ohio, Trump’s current slim margin of leading Biden by half a percentage point would get bumped up to a more comfortable 4.5 percentage point lead.

In Georgia, where Biden leads in the RCP average by 1.2 percentage points, this would put Trump over the top. The scenario is the same in Iowa, where Biden leads the RCP average by the same margin.

In Florida, where Biden leads in the RCP average by 1.4 percentage points, this would put Trump over the top.

In North Carolina, where Biden leads in the RCP average by 2.7 percentage points, this would put Trump over the top.

In Arizona, where Biden leads in the RCP average by 3.1 percentage points, this would put Trump over the top.

In Pennsylvania, where Biden leads in the RCP average by 3.8 percentage points, this would put Trump over the top.

And if Trump wins Ohio, Georgia, Iowa, Florida, North Carolina, Arizona, and Pennsylvania, including all of the rest of the traditionally red states that don’t appear competitive, Trump will win reelection with at least 278 electoral votes.

That four-point shift wouldn’t be enough to swing Nevada, where Biden leads by 5.2 points, or Wisconsin, where Biden leads in the RCP average by 6.2 points, or Minnesota, where Biden leads by 6.6 points, or in Michigan, where Biden leads by 6.8 points. But after the Keystone State, all the rest of the states are gravy.

If the phenomenon Cahaly describes is only good for three points, then the election would come down to that oh-so-close finish in Pennsylvania. As I laid out in a recent article in the magazine, the count in Pennsylvania is likely to be extremely complicated, with many voters using absentee ballots for the first time.

Democrats should hope that the pollsters have it right, or that the phenomenon Cahaly describes is worth less than four percentage point shift in the electorate.

Keep in mind, if the final election results match the current RCP averages, Biden would win the presidency by a considerable margin, winning Georgia, Iowa, Florida, North Carolina, Arizona, and Pennsylvania, as well as Nevada, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan. But as the list above shows, Biden’s leads in some of those states should have Democrats sweating.

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