Where do Trump, Biden stand in each swing state?
Campaign strategist John Thomas weighs in on ‘Fox & Friends First.’
The inevitability around an expected Hillary Clinton presidency in early November 2016 is eerily similar to the mood ahead of a presumed Joe Biden White House in early November 2020.
While four years ago all the pieces fell into place for candidate Donald Trump, this time the political winds are blowing directly into the incumbent’s face.
Specifically, Trump faces an ominous four-headed monster as campaign 2020’s hourglass winds down – factors that will reverberate down-ballot into Senate races.
First, Trump is playing electoral college defense in traditionally red states he cannot afford to lose. Given their blue tilt, Trump’s “Big Three” coalition of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin was always going to be difficult to replicate.
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Now, he faces deficits in Florida and Arizona by three and six points, respectively, according to the latest polls from the New York Times and Siena College. Georgia and North Carolina are both legitimate jump balls, and even Texas moved to the “toss up” column by Cook Political Report.
Biden’s basement strategy may have earned him mockery from his opponents, but it has paid political dividends. It allowed the campaign to be framed as a referendum on Trump, not the choice election that the Trump team wanted.
Count me skeptical that 2020 is the year the Lone Star state goes blue, but Trump’s already-precarious pathway all but vanishes should even one of these states flip.
Compounding Trump’s troubles with the electoral map is his second major challenge: Biden is swamping Trump’s boat financially.
The challenger entered October with almost three times more cash on hand than the incumbent – $63.1 million to $177.3 million. During the final weekend, Biden enjoyed a nearly three to one advantage over Trump in television advertising. TV buys aren’t everything, but it complicates the ability to drive a message in an ever-expanding electoral map.
Third, the COVID-19 pandemic is cresting at the worst possible moment. The country recorded 99,000 new cases Friday – a new high-water mark. Last week saw a record-setting 559,000 new infections.
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Aside from the human toll, the pandemic is undermining Trump’s political strengths elsewhere. Last week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite all suffered their worst weeks since March – all while Americans were casting early ballots in record numbers. Even if pandemic-driven, rocky markets undermine Trump’s economic message, long an area voters have consistently preferred him over Biden.
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Finally, and most importantly, Biden is not Hillary Clinton. His approval numbers are right at 50 percent, according to Real Clear Politics, with his unfavorable marks sitting at 44. Clinton, by contrast, entered election day 2016 with her favorability 12 points underwater, 42-54 percent.
Biden’s basement strategy may have earned him mockery from his opponents, but it has paid political dividends. It allowed the campaign to be framed as a referendum on Trump, not the choice election that the Trump team wanted. Hunter Biden’s emails made some noise but never reached the decibel level of Hillary Clinton’s.
At 77 years old, Biden was not perfect, and he had his fair share of head-scratching moments. His big mouth has long been his greatest political liability, but on his third and final attempt at the White House, he managed to keep it in check.
Meanwhile, in the battle for the Senate, the GOP’s hopes of maintaining their three-seat majority are inextricably linked with Trump. Split ticket voters are nearly extinct these days, making life very difficult for Republican incumbents in blue states.
If Trump is able to keep things close in purple places like Iowa, North Carolina and Arizona, the GOP Senators on the ballot have a chance, and those in the redder states of Montana, Texas and Kansas can breathe a little easier.
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If it’s a rout at the presidential level, Joe Biden can look forward to full Democratic control of the levers of government. Georgia remains the big wild card, with both Senate seats up for grabs, and both potentially heading to January run-off elections should no candidate hit the 50 percent mark tomorrow.
With little left to do except count the votes, anyone would rather be in Joe Biden’s shoes than Trump’s. We’ve seen this movie before, and know how it ended then. If Trump can somehow pull another rabbit out of his hat, it will be a greater political feat than even his remarkable 2016 victory.
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