Trump Is Losing, Or Is He?

July 2nd, 2020 | TC

Opinion polls are looking grim for Donald Trump, with fewer than five months before the election. The mainstream corporate media is doing exactly what they did in 2016 and declaring Trump the inevitable loser. Left-wing blogs like Salon and Alternet are declaring Trump's loss to be potentially historic in its gravity, but we know that cannot be the full truth. As a matter of fact, an analysis of 2016 opinion polls happens to show Donald Trump polling exactly where he is now, weeks before the 2016 election.

National polls were actually correct in terms of predicting the popular vote, but it was the state-by-state polling that failed miserably in 2016. As we know, it is the Electoral College that chooses America's presidents, not the popular vote. This will, therefore, be a state-by-state analysis and comparison to 2016.

An important caveat: Trump won states like Michigan and Pennsylvania by a very narrow margin in 2016. This time around, it may be a gamble to bet on him winning these states again without the ability to hold his iconic rallies.

Pennsylvania (20 Votes) – Margin Of Error: 4%

One of the most important key swing states, Pennsylvania is the heart of America's blue collar industry. In 2016, Trump won the state with 68,000 votes over Clinton. By Pennsylvania standards, that was a slim margin. In late October, CNN/ORC pegged Trump at 44% and Clinton at 48% in the state. The final results of the election put Trump at 48% in Pennsylvania and Clinton at 47%.

Trump won 4% more of the popular vote in Pennsylvania than almost every poll had predicted.

In 2020, five months before the election, Biden's average lead over Trump in Pennsylvania is about 6%. This year will be a different result. Trump had won the state following eight years of Obama, with slim margins compared to previous elections. Joe Biden is more popular among blacks than Hillary Clinton and could pull in more votes than she did. Biden is averaging 50% in most polls coming out of Pennsylvania at the moment, which is 2% higher than where Clinton was polling weeks before the 2016 election.

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As of June, Trump is averaging 43% in Pennsylvania and Biden is averaging 50%, producing a lead of about 6-7%.

VERDICT: Trump could lose Pennsylvania and its 20 electorates, even if he is polling 4% behind what he will actually win in November.

Michigan (16 Votes) – Margin Of Error: 5%

Trump only won Michigan in 2016 with less than 12,000 votes over Clinton. This is a much slimmer margin than in Pennsylvania, making the stakes even higher in 2020. According to opinion polls conducted in late October and early November, Trump should have lost to Clinton by at least 5%.

Trump won Michigan by 0.3%, despite polling at an average of 44% in the weeks leading up to the election. The final results showed both Clinton and Trump nearly tied with 47% of the popular vote in Michigan. In the end, only 0.3% separated Trump from Clinton.

With five months left to chip away at Biden's 5% lead, Trump still has a chance to beat Biden in Michigan. As an incumbent, facing an opponent with better chances than Clinton with the black community, Trump is in danger of losing this key state—but he could still win.

VERDICT: Trump has a good chance of narrowly winning Michigan again, even within the 5% error margin from 2016.

Florida (29 Votes) – Margin Of Error: 2%

When it comes to polling, Florida was an anomaly. Most polling agencies correctly predicted that Trump would win the state within weeks of the 2016 election. In Late October, Trump was averaging a 4% lead over Clinton. This makes the 2020 polls a troubling sign for the Trump campaign.

As of June 2020, Biden is maintaining a steady lead over Trump with an average of 7%. If Trump fails to win Florida's 29 electoral votes in November, he will lose the presidency.

Hearkening back to the 2000 election between Bush and Gore, we remember what a crucial state Florida is for any presidential candidate. Without Florida, it is difficult to make the White House your home for four years—minus a dramatic win in a majority of other key swing states.

In 2016, polls predicted Trump would beat Clinton by 3% in Florida. On election night, he beat her by 5%, or 120,000 votes. It was one of the most impressive wins for the Trump campaign. If Trump can successfully convince his supporters to turn out in full force this November, he could easily beat Joe Biden—however, chipping away at Biden's existing 7% lead will require some heavy lifting. There is also a possibility that Trump's handling of the COVID crisis has damaged his chances in the state.

VERDICT: Trump could lose Florida in November, making his path to victory difficult. Trump is far below the 2% margin of error from 2016.

North Carolina (15 Votes) – Margin Of Error: 4%

Trump beat Clinton by 4%, or 177,000 votes in North Carolina. Polls predicted Clinton would beat Trump by at least 3% in the state, just weeks prior to the 2016 election. Leading up to the election, Trump was averaging about 45-46% in polls, but finished on election night with 50% of the popular vote. Clinton pulled in just below 47% of the vote, despite polling at 49% in late October.

Obama lost North Carolina to Romney in 2012, but won it in 2008 with 50% of the vote. If any state in the Union is a wild card, it is North Carolina.

In 2020, Biden is leading Trump by a slim and unstable average of 4%. In a poll conducted in mid June by Gravis Marketing, Trump was leading Joe Biden by 3%. In all following polls, Biden holds a slim average of 4% over Trump. Just as in 2016, North Carolina will prove to be a wild card.

VERDICT: Trump could win North Carolina. Even with a slim margin, a win here would give Trump 15 votes in the Electoral College.

Wisconsin (10 Votes) – Margin Of Error: 5%

Polls in Wisconsin showed Clinton beating Trump by at least 7% in the state. In the end, Trump beat Clinton by 1%, or 27,000 votes. Another anomaly in polling, Wisconsin proved to be a reputation-killer for polling agencies. Averaging only 42% in polls, Trump finished at 47% in Wisconsin.

Polling at an average of 47%, Clinton finished at 46%.

In 2020, Biden is polling above Trump by an average of 8% in Wisconsin. Trump is averaging 42% in Wisconsin as of June 2020—the same as he was in 2016. If we were to see a repeat of 2020, Biden would narrowly beat Trump by 1% in 2020, as he has been polling 1% higher than Clinton so far in 2020.

Trump's victory in Wisconsin was slim in 2016, making his chances no better than 50/50 in 2020.

VERDICT: Trump could easily lose Wisconsin by a slim margin in November.

Arizona (11 Votes) – Margin Of Error: 3%

In 2016, polls predicted that Trump would win Arizona. In the end, both Clinton and Trump finished stronger than polls had predicted. Trump was polling at 45% in late October, but finished at 48%. Clinton was polling at an average of 42%, but finished at 45%.

In 2020, Biden is leading Trump with an aggregate average of 4% in Arizona.

If we were to repeat the results of 2016 with the same margin of error, Biden would beat Trump in Arizona by a slim 1% margin. With only 11 Electoral College votes, Arizona may not seem like a key state, but it has been a key swing state in every presidential election since 2000.

VERDICT: Trump could lose Arizona and its 11 electoral votes in November.

Final Verdict

If we were to keep the Electoral College map the same as 2016, with the exception of the six key states mentioned here, Donald Trump would become the first one-term president since George Bush. Unfortunately, if current polling numbers hold true, even with the margins of error from 2016, Trump would go on to lose the presidency in November.

With Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida and Arizona falling to Biden, Trump would lose the Electoral College by 70 votes, giving a final result that closely mirrors the 2016 result, but in reverse:

Biden: 304

Trump: 234

Such a result would be far from the “historic loss” predicted by the left, but it would fail to achieve the win needed by Trump and his supporters. In the worst case scenario, which would see Trump lose all of the mentioned six key states, the results would look something like this:

Biden: 335

Trump: 203

It still wouldn't be a historic loss comparable to Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale, but it would be enough to deal a fatal blow to the Trump movement.

If Donald Trump wishes to redeem his chances in 2020, he will need to focus on winning all of these six key states—with an emphasis on Florida, Michigan and North Carolina. Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are important, but they might fall in line if Trump manages to win hearts and minds in Florida, Michigan and North Carolina. Those three states by themselves account for 60 crucial electoral votes. If Trump fails to win them, Joe Biden will become the next president.

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