If you read MSM, especially Canadian MSM, the US Presidential Election is over and Joe Biden will cruise to an easy victory in both the popular vote and in the swing states where US elections are decided. The polls say so. End of story.
It is trite to point out that the polls said the same thing about Hillary in 2016, yet here we are.
Elections are about a lot of things, policy, personality, demographics, ground game, likeability and so on. They serve as an outlet for the fears and frustrations of the electorate and an opportunity to express tribal loyalty. The 2020 US Presidential Election is really an up or down vote on Donald Trump.
In 2016 Trump short circuited the system by providing an alternative to a genuinely despised woman whose “turn” it was. If I had a vote, which I don’t because Canadian, I would not have voted for Trump, I would have voted against Hillary. I did not like Trump the man and was not at all excited at the prospect of “President Trump”.
This has changed a bit for 2020. He’s still an Orange Oaf but, in the face of multiple challenges, COVID 19 being only the most recent, he has managed to execute the office far better than I anticipated. No new wars, lots of new judges, de-regulation, tax cuts, a booming pre-COVID economy which led to very low unemployment generally and record lows for Blacks and Latinos. He has shown remarkable restraint in the face of the Antifa/BLM provocations and deference to the place of the States in the American Constitution on both COVID and the riots. For a rank amateur, often advised by people who did not share his agenda, Trump’s first term was a success.
Which is just one of the reasons I think he will be given a second term.
There are lots of others. Up until he beat COVID (we hope) in a weekend, Trump was running a real, old time, campaign. Flying into swing states and doing hanger rallies in places no Presidential candidate has been to in a century. Pulling 10,000 here, 20,000 there. And, of course, harvesting the data on all the people who wanted tickets.
The boat parades (apparently not organized by the campaign), truck parades and car parades, the spontaneous rally outside Walter Reed, even the Trump supporters greeting Biden when he occasionally campaigns, all indicate real enthusiasm for Trump. Biden’s campaign knows it can’t put on this sort of show so it is not even trying.
Trump is, first and foremost, a showman. He loves the crowds, the cheers, the signs. He has developed a rally “patter” with entertaining asides, imitations, jokes, insults all worked into the teleprompter material. His timing isn’t perfect but he never runs into “Please clap.” moments. Most of all, Trump always looks like he is having a ton of fun being with his people.
Now, if that was the whole of the Trump campaign it might very well beat the lame effort of the Dems and Joe Biden; but it is not:
“Although Stepien faces an unprecedented challenge — trailing in some national polls by double-digits with an unpopular incumbent in the midst of a pandemic — he has what Republicans believe is a crucial advantage over Democratic opponent Joe Biden: the Republican Party’s sophisticated, billion-dollar get-out-the vote operation.
Trump Victory, the joint operation between the RNC and the Trump campaign, has an army of 2,000 paid field staffers in 17 states and more than 2 million volunteers making phone calls and knocking on doors. The field operation claims to have made more than 90 million voter contacts in the cycle, including 12 million door knocks since they resumed the practice in June.
In just the last week, according to Trump Victory spokesman Rick Gorka, volunteers have knocked on more than 533,000 doors across the key states of North Carolina, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Georgia.” cnn (September 10, 2020)
For years political consultants maintained that campaigns were won with advertising mainly on TV. Markets were saturated, consultants well paid – it was like selling soap. Now, fewer and fewer people are watching TV and if they are they have more than five channels to watch. National markets have collapsed, local markets are fighting for a share of fewer and fewer viewers. People get their news, their entertainment and their political views from the fragmented, siloed world of the internet. On the internet you can target very specifically, but you cannot really reach an undifferentiated mass audience.
Trump’s campaign figured that out in 2016 but it has had four years to figure out how to bypass both TV, mainstream media and the internet’s silos. A phone call is fine but the ultimate outreach to the undecided voter in key states is good, old fashioned, door knocking. It’s a big country, but in the states which matter, hundreds of thousands of direct contacts and a big data operation can make a huge difference.
Demographics matter too and here Trump has a huge advantage, he has nowhere to go but up with black Americans and Latinos. In 2016 Trump got 8% of black votes. According to exit polls in 2016 Trump got 29% of the Latino vote. For the past four years Trump has made a point of courting black and Latino voters. More importantly, in the pre-Covid economy employment rates for both groups hit historic highs. Will that translate to votes? I suspect it will, the question is how many. Much is made of the “shy” Trump vote. Realistically, you would have to be a very brave black person in a black community, to show any support for Trump. We’ll see how that goes but a tiny increase – and I mean 3% – in Trump voting in black and Latino demographics would have huge electoral consequences.
The final piece of the Trump victory is the gift of Joe Biden. No one hates Joe in the way people hated Hillary. He’s old, a bit dazed, corrupt, lousy at retail politics, bereft of policy and saddled with a VP candidate someone referred to as Hillary in blackface. But no one hates him. They just don’t like him very much. Even his supporters have bumper stickers saying “Settle for Biden”.
Incumbency is tough to defeat. People know who Donald Trump is. There are plenty of people who didn’t vote for Trump in 2016 and are looking forward to not voting for him in 2020. Just as there are lots who voted for Trump and will again. But no one is affirmatively voting for Joe Biden.
Which leads to the final reason why Trump will win. People who support Trump will all show up, most of the people who hate Trump will show up too, though likely not all – and there is no one who actually supports Joe Biden. Elections are decided by the people who actually vote. Trump’s job is to make sure every single one of his supporters and leaners (secret or otherwise) feels motivated enough to vote. And that is exactly what Trump and his organization are doing.