The Candidates’ Market Report
The press and the polls don’t look good for President Trump right now. With a series of teacup-sized storms and the seeming inability of the Fourth Estate to report on any single positive development, dark days are ahead for the Trump campaign. Or are they?
Supporters of the president have been here before. In fact, it was roughly this time four years ago that the Access Hollywood recording seemed certain to derail the Trump Train, Hillary Clinton was hitting big polling numbers, and the Democrat contender had a more than 90% chance of winning the election. When election night brought a Trump victory, pollsters and the public were left scratching their heads. Have the same folks who predicted a Clinton win adjusted their methodology, or are we seeing that most grave of all polling sins: ignoring the details?
This Week’s Major Players
- Donald Trump – 49% ( + 3% )
- Congress – 15% ( + 1% )
The Senate is where things really happen. If Joe Biden becomes president (and shortly thereafter Kamala Harris?), his ability to enact legislation will be impacted heavily by who controls the Senate. Over the last few election cycles, Republicans have increased their majority. But this time, with 22 Republican seats up for grabs, the GOP will be fighting hard to maintain their 53-seat majority.
RealClearPolitics has the likely breakdown as follows:
- Republicans: 46
- Democrats (including Independents who caucus with Dems): 47
- Toss-Up: 7
The states that are a toss-up include Georgia, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Montana, South Carolina, and North Carolina.
And here is where the numbers get interesting. Last week, there were eight states on this list; the change came with recent polling showing that Arizona Senator Martha McSally (R) would lose out to Democrat challenger Mark Kelly. In fact, McSally hasn’t been ahead in a poll since June, suggesting that this is a clear loss for the incumbent. But in terms of sure bets, only one other state in this cycle is as likely to flip: Democrat-held Alabama. The wildly unpopular Sen. Doug Jones appears to be so far behind challenger Tommy Tuberville that it seems his own party has already written him off.
Also likely to lean Democrat is Colorado. With incumbent Cory Gardner (R) facing off against former Democrat Governor John Hickenlooper, the state looks ready to jettison the GOP candidate. However, despite incredibly poor polling, there is a chance for him to retain his seat: the Supreme Court nomination vote. Colorado has been shifting more Democrat for some time, and Gardner survives by being viewed as non-partisan, thereby picking up the large Independent vote. If he goes against his party on the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, he may be able to hang on; if not, many of those swing voters could opt for the popular former governor.
But what of the other races?
Georgia is in a unique position as not only is the regular Senate race on the ballot, but also a special election for the second seat. Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R) is facing a “jungle primary” which includes 20 other challengers. Although Raphael Warnock is the frontrunner, the nature of the election means that the winning candidate has to get a majority, not a plurality; this will likely lead to a run-off between the two biggest hitters … and it is here that Loeffler has the advantage.
All the other contests are at present too close to call.
What the Gamblers Say
As with most things, if you follow the money, you can’t go too far wrong. This is a selection of the odds for key races and events.
Swing State Odds
Certain states hold the keys to presidential power in 2020. These are the states that are most likely in play and what the betting odds suggest.
- Democrats – 8/13
- Republicans – 6/5
- Republicans – 3/10
- Democrats – 9/4
- Democrats – 1/2
- Republicans – 6/4
- Democrats – 1/16
- Republicans – 13/2
- Republicans – 4/6
- Democrats – 11/10
- Republicans – 4/7
- Democrats – 5/4
- Democrats – 1/14
- Republicans – 11/2
- Democrats – 1/6
- Republicans – 7/2
- Democrats – 4/6
- Republicans – 11/10
- Republicans – 4/6
- Democrats – 11/10
- Democrats – 2/9
- Republicans – 11/4
- Joe Biden – 4/11
- Donald Trump – 2/1
- Kamala Harris – 80/1
- Mike Pence – 80/1
Strange things are afoot. Although almost all major presidential polling (and betting odds) points to a Biden victory, other data muddies the waters. For example, a survey of voters asking if they felt they were better off now than four years ago (under the Obama administration), revealed that 56% thought they were. That’s a staggering number compared to the 32% who said they were worse off. Every election tends to come down to the economy, and if the majority of voters feel they are better off financially under the Trump administration, then that’s where they’ll mark their ballots.
Another surprising poll – and one that has historically been a very reliable indicator – is that of who people think will win. The Gallup poll suggests 56% of voters believe Donald Trump will win re-election (40% for Biden to win). For more than 50 years, this method has consistently outperformed pretty much all others, yet it is often not touted by the media who favor the voter intention method. Of the seven presidential elections since 1988, expectations proved more effective than intention.
Make sure to check back next week for all the numbers that count.
Read more from Mark Angelides.
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