Joining the leagues of internet pundits sharing their 270ToWin maps, I’ve decided to lend my two cents. We’re about 48 hours away from the polls closing on what will be an election to go down in the history books. To say this election is close would be an understatement.
While I was a reelection nihilist for the last couple months, Trump’s odds of winning on Tuesday have grown in recent weeks. Hunter Biden’s corruption scandal, Trump’s surprisingly strong 2nd debate performance, and consistent economic recovery are pointing to a narrow Trump victory. Will he win the popular vote? Not a chance, and while I wish he ran a less bombasic campaign, he did what he had to do in key states to earn a second term.
Before we get into the battleground elections and why they will end the way they will, it’s worth highlighting Trump’s stronger than predicted electoral base. States like Georgia, Ohio, South Carolina, Iowa, and even Texas are thought to be in play for Democrats. They’re not.
It’s an old trope, but the polls likely undercount Trump’s support among independents and even many Republicans. A study done by CloudResearch found more than 10% of Trump supporters admit to either lying to or would lie to pollsters about their political affiliation. Most respondents cite fear of social backlash should their response ever be made public. With the rampant cancel culture spreading like wildfire, their fears are not misguided. Holding once innocuous views could result in people being blacklisted from the community.
I’m beginning my analysis assuming polls undercount Trump’s support by 2-3% and they’re overcounting Biden’s support by 2-3%. Then, using a study from Gallup which estimates Democrats are twice as likely to vote early as Republicans, I can use early voting data to estimate which states are in play and which states are MAGA Country.
Without swing states, Biden has a stronger base, largely because of the Northeast, New York, and California. He leads Trump 185 to 168. When accounting for states that’ll likely lean one way or the other, but could theoretically switch, Biden’s lead increases slightly to 226 – 205. Trump is behind, but the race is close.
Unsurprisingly, 44% of the 84 million voters who requested a mail-in-ballot are Democrats. Only 31% were Republican. However, out of the 85 million ballots returned or early votes cast, 37% were from registered Republicans. The national polls are largely accurate, Biden is leading the national vote by leaps and bounds, but if the Gallup poll holds true, that 7% lead held by Biden will shrink come Tuesday. The 10% of Trump supporters who’re afraid to tell pollsters their leanings would likely apply more so to Independents rather than voters who’ve already registered as Republicans, and they’re the ones who are not voting early. Democrats are holding steady, Republicans are showing up to the polls in droves, and Independents, for whatever reason, are waiting until the last minute to make up their mind, which is good for Trump.
But the national polls don’t matter, we have an electoral college. Trump needs to win 270 delegates to stay in office, but the media already wrote off much of Trump’s core to be contested states. In Georgia, 51% of early votes were made by Republicans. Only 7% of the state’s Independents returned their ballots. In Iowa, Republican ballot returnees are down by 13%, but he’s leading by 1-2% in a the polls. Remember, Trump supporters are more likely to lie in polls and vote on November 3rd, so Trump’s lead could be high single digits come election day. In Texas and Ohio, the story is the same; double digit leads for Republicans returning their ballots and voting early, and he’s leading in polls.
That leaves us with 7 battleground states: Florida, North Carolina, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Michigan, and Wisconsin. All but Nevada were won by Trump, which gives him a small but important incumbent advantage.
Based on the increase in Republican voter registration numbers, enthusiasm, rally sizes, and closeness in the polls, I have to give Trump both Florida and North Carolina. It’ll be neck and neck, but the 2% and 5% lead Biden has among registered voters in early voting and polls can be made up rather easily as both states will have open in-person voting on election day. Trump is now leading 249 – 226 electorally. He’s not quite over the finish line yet!
Nevada and Pennsylvania are going blue. Trump’s early vote in Nevada and poll gap is just too much for him to make up. If you asked me two weeks ago which state Trump needed to win, I would have said Pennsylvania. Similarly to Nevada, the polling gap is a little too large and the Biden’s 3:1 advantage in early voting is too great for Trump to overcomb, but that’s okay. Even with those states Biden is only up 252 to 249. The race is close.
Arizona is another tight race. Realistically, it could go either way. Trump’s down, but is within the margin of error, and Republicans narrowly lead early voting. There’s less stigma for being a conservative down South, but Trump supporters enthusiasm could tip the vote in his favor. For that reason, I’m flipping a coin and giving the once solidly red state to Trump, allotting him another 11 electoral votes and handing him the lead of 260 – 252.
Everything comes down to 2016’s wildcard states: Michigan and Wisconsin. If my predictions are correct, Biden needs to win both. Despite polls showing him down by 6.5% in Wisconsin and 3.4% in Michigan, Trump was able to pull off two utterly shocking political upsets four years ago. I predict the same will be seen in two days.
Trump has a narrow 2% lead over Biden in early voting in Michigan and and an 8% lead in Wisconsin. He may be down in the polls, by a lot, but early voting factors and the enthusiasm behind Trump’s reelection bid should hand him two narrow wins up North.
Trump will win 286 electoral votes on Tuesday… or whenever states finish counting the troves of early ballots. He’ll lose the popular vote by millions, but there’s always 2024. Polls suggest Democrats are supporting Biden because he’s not Trump. They’re not too fond of his stances, past performance, or mental fitness, but Orange Man Bad, so vote blue. Trump’s base worships the man. Passion for a candidate rather than hatred for another is what drives voters to polls.
Additionally, because Independents have been holding off on casting their mail-in-ballots to the very last minute, or even waiting until November 3rd, Trump will get the advantage of his October surprises. Early voting began 6-weeks ago when Trump was at his lowest. Since then, he’s had a steller debate performance, the economy continues to recover, and Joe Biden was accused of serious corruption. That will sway undecided voters and weary Democrats. Maybe by just enough to tip a state or two. If most ballots were returned promptly, you’d be reading a different story.