Countdown to Election 2020

It has been two months since my last article on anticipating the 2020 elections based on voting trends—not polls.

I take little stock in polls since they were largely wrong in 2016, and many are politically motivated. Polls are done by conservative and liberal groups—the only thing that they have in common is portraying close elections in order to motivate their base and to sell more polling results.

So…will we see a red wave or blue wave on November 3? Nobody knows for sure, but the election will confirm how large (or small) Trump’s base is after his four years in office. It will also be a means to assess the impact of organizations like Black  Lives Matter and March For Our Lives.

High voter turnouts in 2020—and in 2018

As of October 25, some 60 million U.S. citizens have already voted—an unprecedented number! High turnout historically favors Democratic Party candidates. For example, 2018 saw one of the highest turnouts on record for midterm elections (see graph below), and Democrats gained 41 seats in the House of Representatives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A third of the Senate (33 seats) was up for reelection, and even though Republicans got less than 40% of the vote, they gained 2 Senate seats. The Senate race in Florida between Republican Rick Scott and Democrat Bill Nelson was especially close and caused much controversy. Scott’s attacks and lawsuits on the recount process in 2018 will likely be a model for the Trump campaign if the 2020 election is close in Florida.

New Map Shows Change from August 2020 Map

Based on high turnout numbers and past voting trends, the following states changed to favoring Democrats (light blue) on the map.

Electoral Forecast as of October 25, 2020

A r i z o n a. Democrats flipped a Republican U.S. House and Senate seat in 2018. Trump won the state in 2016 with 48% of the vote. Democrats have not won this state’s electoral votes since 1996, but recent voting and demographic trends indicate changes helpful to Democrats. Fundraising favors Democrats as of October 2020—especially for Arizona’s Senate seat.

I o w a. As a former Iowan, I noted that the state is trending favorably to Democrats. Trump won 51% of Iowa’s vote in 2016, after the state went to Obama in 2008 (by 54%) and 2012 (by 52%). Prior to the 2018 elections, Iowa had one Democratic representative in the U.S. House and three Republican ones. The 2018 election gave Democrats three seats to just one for Republicans—largely due to Trump’s trade policies that hurt farmers. Indicators point to a defeat for incumbent Republican Senator Joni Ernst in 2020.

F l o r i d a. Democrats flipped two Republican House seats in the 2018 election and have a slight edge in voter registrations for 2020. Trump got 49% of the vote in 2016, after Obama won it with 51% of the vote in 2008 and 50% of the vote in 2012. It will be close (as always), but Biden should get a narrow victory.

N o r t h   C a r o l i n a. Democrat Roy Cooper won an upset victory over incumbent Republican Governor Pat McCrory in 2016. Governor Cooper is popular, especially for his Covid-19 response, and is running for reelection in 2020. Trump won the state in 2016 with 49.8% of the vote, after Obama narrowly won it in 2008 but lost it in 2012. In 2018 Democrats gained six seats in the North Carolina State Senate and nine seats in the state’s House of Representatives. Statewide Democrats received more votes than Republicans in 2018 but gerrymandering limited Democratic gains. Trends look favorable for a Democratic win in 2020.

Summary

Voting trends point to a blue wave on November 3, Election Day. It should be evident after the polls close on Election Day that eastern states, such as Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Florida, and Georgia, are stopping—or stifling—any imagined red wave.

One state to watch as the returns come in is Kentucky. It has a pivotal Senate race and is usually the first Republican state to report its election results. If election results are delayed in Kentucky due to tight races, then it could be a long, disappointing night for Republicans.

 

The Night Before Election 2016

I believe in past votes rather than polls in this election. Polls are skewed because of technology limits and ideological slant. Based on past voting trends,

Since 2008, Democrats have done well in statewide elections with greater voter turnout.
Since 2008, Democrats have done well in statewide elections with greater voter turnout.

I can see Hillary Clinton taking Florida and Rubio losing his Senate seat. The election looks to bust records on voter turnout. Looking at the graph (above), I can see how a higher turnout will reward Democrats.

If Hillary takes Florida, then there is no way for Donald Trump to win. I offer the following map as insight on how the electoral map will look on or after Election Day (Nov 8).

A prediction on Clinton's landslide map.
A prediction on Clinton’s landslide map.

Hillary Clinton should build up a large electoral lead, winning the states President Obama won in 2012, plus North Carolina (won by Obama in 2008) and Arizona (never won by Obama). Arizona was targeted by the Clinton campaign due to the large and fast-growing Hispanic population, the close 2012 U.S. Senate election, and current polls. Obama was able to turn red state Indiana to blue in 2008 due to frequent visits. The Clinton family, Bernie Sanders, and others have campaigned in Arizona to drive up the vote for Hillary Clinton. With some 32 field offices, the Clinton campaign looks to register enough new voters to turn Arizona blue on Election Day; in comparison, the Trump campaign does not have a significant ground operation in Arizona.

Tomorrow we should know whether this geographic analysis is correct–or if I have missed something major. Oh yes, I also predict that Democrats will pick up 4 to 7 Senate seats. Wish me (and the country) luck!

Does Geography Favor Clinton or Trump?

Candles cast light on election.
Candles cast light on election.

In honor of my son’s birthday and before things get too busy at college, I thought to put down a few words—and a map—predicting the presidential election on November 8. These humble predictions are built on a few premises:

  • Voter turnout will be high, averaging 60% or more of eligible voters.
  • The Clinton campaign maintains discipline and resolves computer vulnerabilities. With two successful senatorial campaigns under her belt, she presides over a fourth presidential campaign.
  • The Trump campaign continues its chaotic rampage, alienating key states and ethnic groups. He is a political novice, which appeals to those who despise the “political elite” but is disastrous in a presidential campaign.
  • The media should harass both candidates relentlessly (in their ad revenue race).
  • The polls paint a roller-coaster race, so pollsters can make money (plus polls are increasingly partisan and inaccurate).
States likely to vote for Clinton and Trump on November 8, 2016.
States likely to vote for Clinton and Trump on November 8, 2016.

The electoral geography currently favors Clinton, and she should win with at least 348 electoral votes, versus some 140 for Trump. A candidate needs 270 electoral votes to become U.S. President. A brief analysis of key states on the map:

Virginia. Details on why Virginia will go to Clinton can be found in my recent blog, Is Virginia a Swing State?

Florida. Trump has managed to offend the 3.2 million African Americans and 4.8 million Hispanics in the state. Even Cuban Americans, who normally vote Republican, will likely defect. Clinton has 33 more field offices in Florida than Trump. Independent voters should align with the larger Democratic electorate to win Florida for Clinton.

Ohio. At this time, Republican Governor John Kasich does not endorse Trump, meaning a divided GOP in Ohio. With some 35 field offices in the state, Clinton has more than twice the number of Trump offices.  Clinton won her primary in Ohio, but Trump lost to Kasich. All this adds to the likelihood that Clinton will garner the state, as Obama did in 2008 and 2012.

NorthCarolina BathroomCaptionNorth Carolina. Republican Governor Pat McCrory, deeply unpopular due to the “bathroom bill,” is in a close race for reelection; also, a federal appeals court overturned a new voter ID law. Dismissal of the voter ID law would help Democrats get more votes and a larger victory margin. Another close race pits Republican incumbent Senator Burr against Democratic challenger, Deborah Ross, which could determine control of the U.S. Senate. Currently, Clinton has 26 field offices in North Carolina to Trump’s 1 office.

Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District. Clinton should earn one electoral vote from Omaha, with its large minority population, as outlined in Electoral Geography 2016. The Oracle of Omaha, Warren Buffett, is a key Clinton supporter.

 

States Too Close to Call (Swing States)

A generic Republican candidate would win the states below, but Donald Trump is a decidedly unconventional candidate and his campaign’s missteps could cost him a number of previously red states, as shown on the map.

Missouri. This state is a target for the Clinton campaign, as it has a history of electing Democrats statewide. The Obama campaign lost Missouri in 2008 by only 4,000 votes. Clinton’s running mate, Senator Tim Kaine, grew up in Missouri, and the state could be won with a large turnout in urban areas; however, this is where Rush Limbaugh country meets Ferguson and #BlackLivesMatter. Democratic Governor Jay Nixon is popular, but neighboring Kansas Republican Governor Sam Brownback is the most unpopular governor in the nation due to conservative policies adversely affecting the Kansas economy–this will likely sway voters in Kansas City and western Missouri.

Montana. Obama lost this state by some 10,000 votes in 2008. Democratic Governor Steve Bullock is highly popular and is running for reelection. Clinton’s campaign organization and endorsements in the state are impressive, whereas Trump seems to be taking Montana for granted.

Indiana. Trump’s running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, could help keep this a red state; however, Democrat Evan Bayh is leading in the Senate race. In addition, the governor’s race is tight, meaning voter turnout should be high, which favors Democrats. Obama won this state in 2008 but lost it in 2012, when turnout was lower.

Arizona and Georgia should stay in the Republican column, even with their large minority populations, but polls show that the race is close in both states.

It’s All About Geography

From a geopolitical point of view, Hillary Clinton will likely achieve an electoral landslide, based on past presidential votes, statewide votes, campaign experience in critical states, and the strategic distribution of field offices. National polls, state polls, pundits, and partisan politics may portray this as a close election, but it should be a blue wave.

The 2015 U.S. Senate: What to Expect?

Yes, the media is all abuzz about the new Republican-dominated Congress that starts on January 9, 2015. Pundits still talk about Democrats losing 9 seats in the 2014 election results (my previous blog on Senate predictions was way off).

The Blame Obama Option!

For Republicans, blaming Obama seems the answer for everything. However, it should be noted that the only new Democratic Senator in the 2014 cycle, Senator-elect Gary Peters from Michigan, was the only Democratic U.S. Senate candidate to embrace President Obama and invite him to campaign. Peters won in Michigan with 1.7 million votes, beating his Republican opponent by 410,000 votes—this in a state that reelected a Republican governor in 2014. Most Democrats distanced themselves from the President, even though they were elected in the Obama-engineered Democratic wave of 2008.

Blame Obamacare Option!

This GOP attack on “job-killing Obamacare” will be used early and often in 2015, pointing to the will of the American people in voting Democrats out in 2014. Of course, Republicans will fail to mention their loss of 6 Senate seats in 2006 and another 8 seats in 2008. In reality, the Democratic wave of 2008 brought about the Republican wave of 2014. This is part of the Senate cycle as designed in the U.S. Constitution. I should add that Republicans gained 6 seats in their 2010 wave, and many will be vulnerable in 2016.

Blame Low Voter Turnout Option

Democrats expected to lose some Senate seats, but low voter turnout (see graph below) likely hurt Democrats even more. Why the low turnout? Because Democrats were divided, failing to support President Obama and many Democratic policies. Republicans have always portrayed Obama and the Affordable Care Act as unpopular, and many Democrats took the bait by distancing themselves from the President. This confused message from Democratic candidates resulted in low voter turnout.

Comparing Presidential Votes to 2014 Senate Votes by State
Comparing Presidential Votes to the 2014 Senate Votes (by State)

What Can We Expect from the 2015 Senate?

Many Republicans believe they have a voter mandate to confront Obama, even though 2014 saw historically low voter participation. Senator McConnell, the new Senate Majority Leader, will need to balance cooperation with confrontation. Cooperation with the White House is needed to show that Republicans can govern. However, confrontation will likely be the natural order of things, with Republicans passing legislation that they know will be vetoed by the President.

Senate Control?

The new Senate, with a 54-member Republican majority, will convene on January 9 in what Republicans are calling the “New American Congress.” It should be noted that no party “controls” the Senate unless it has a 60-member majority. Democrats can now reciprocate with tactics used by Senate Republicans since 2009. Undoubtedly, some Democrats gleefully look forward to “holds” or “filibusters” on Republican legislation. Again, this is part of the natural Senate cycle.

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