By Washington Osiro
America’s 32nd president Franklin Delano (FDR) Roosevelt coined the term “First 100 Days” to symbolize significance: to benchmark success, in this case of his presidency’s literal first one hundred days. Since then, the term “100 Days” has dropped the prefix “First” leaving the number “100” and time bucket/unit of measurement “Days” to symbolize either the beginning of a countdown towards some seminal moment or event OR a count-up – also towards a seminal moment – one hundred days to/from T=0.
Sunday July 26, 2020 marks the one-hundred-day countdown to November 3, 2020 Election Day. Three months and ten days is a lifetime in politics, and anything is possible between now and then. Add to this precarity of predicting who, between the incumbent Donald J. Trump and challenger Joseph R. Biden, will be declared victorious on November 4, 2020, the now-accepted shock of Hillary Clinton’s shocking loss in 2016, and one can see why prognosticating the outcome of the November 3, 2020 US Elections is not for the faint of heart.
That apprehension notwithstanding, one can speak to several touchpoints as Americans race towards November 3rd:
– Incumbent Donald John Trump is now a known quantity, if not completely, then more than he was known circa 2016. Instead of relying on Hillary Clinton (and the media) to define and describe him, the man now has a record as POTUS Americans can evaluate and use to decide whether he deserves a second term.
– The demography that formed the base Donald Trump used to eke out a victory in 2016 has remained largely unchanged – averaging 43% and ranging between 35% and 49% of those polled.
– The US economy that was to be, pardon the pun, Donald Trump’s trump card, has literally imploded. From an unemployment rate of 3.6% at the beginning of this year, the US unemployment rate as tabulated by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (US BLS) stood at 11.1% when last reported on July 2, 2020. That is over three times the January 2020 rate (11.1÷3.6). The eleven per cent rate is almost two-and-a-half times the supposedly “fake” or “rigged” 4.6% that the Obama Administration bequeathed the incoming Trump Administration on January 2017.
For comparison, at its worst, the Obama Administration clocked an unemployment rate of 10.2% in October 2009 while the current admin’s worst rate is April 2020’s 14.7%.
– The preceding economic meltdown has been courtesy of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
While the entire world’s economy has been dragged down by the virus, the administration’s gross (mis)handling of the nouveau coronavirus has exacerbated its impact and wiped out virtually ALL the gains the Trump Administration inherited from the Obama Administration, had added to said inheritance, and had hoped to use as a cornerstone of its re-election campaign this year. And frankly, it WAS going to be a compelling case:
We built and improved on the “sluggish” and “weak” Obama economy.
Instead, Donald Trump is now facing a public health crisis that has resulted in the deaths of over 140,000 Americans and virtually shut down the national economy. Worse is the erratic and incompetent manner the administration has handled the crisis. And if the mishandling the pandemic were not enough, the administration is losing the public feud with THE face of competent public health crisis management, the uber-unflappable and more trusted physician and immunologist Dr. Frank Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).
– If the pandemic is not enough, Mr. Trump is also beset with widespread domestic problems including the death of George Floyd under the literal knee of disgraced former Minneapolis Police Department Police Officer Derek Chauvin. The May 25, 2020 video-taped murder of Floyd, a black man, unleashed a wave of protests and demonstrations – first stateside then globally – against police brutality meted out on unarmed black and brown Americans. The ensuing protests put under an intense microscope, America’s long and disturbing history on race relations going back to slavery.
Aside from opening the Pandora’s Box of race relations in America, the death of George Floyd has allowed conservatives to pivot to the more favorable law-and-order AND culture war debate that past Republican presidential candidates have used with unquestionable success. From Richard Nixon to Ronald Reagan, George H. W Bush, and now Donald Trump, the GOP has used hot button cultural issues that usually played up the specter of racial and cultural animus between whites on one side and minorities on the other side.
Taken together, the preceding items have combined to paint a picture of a Trump Administration not up to the task of governing, especially when faced with a crisis, and undeserving of a second term – if you believe the polls.
Virtually ALL the national polls have Joe Biden leading Donald Trump. At one extreme, Quinnipiac University’s July 15th poll had the challenger up by 15 points – 52-37% among registered voters. Rasmussen Reports’ weekly White House Watch survey had Biden up 2% – 47%-45% – also among likely voters. This poll results were released on July 22. The Real Clear Politics (RCP) average of polls has Joe Biden leading Donald Trump by 8.7% – 49.6%-40.9%.
However, as most now know, Americans do not elect their president based on a national tabulation of cast votes, i.e. raw vote totals. The first candidate to amass 270 of the 538 Electoral College votes up for grabs wins the US elections. Specifically, the elections are fought (and won) in a handful of states – the so-called “Battleground States”. As previously mentioned, Donald Trump won the 2016 General Elections by flipping crucial states Barack Obama had won in 2012. He won Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin’s forty-six (46) Electoral College votes by 103,904 votes of 13,084,996 votes cast in those three states – a less than 1% (0.79%) margin of victory.
With just over three months left to Election Day, Joe Biden leads in ALL these three states.
FOX News Polls have him up in Michigan by 9% – 49%-40%. RCP’s average of polls has him up 48.7%-40.5%. The same FOX News Poll has him up 50-39 in Pennsylvania with RCP’s average placing him ahead by 7.3%. Finally, Joe Biden is besting the incumbent Donald Trump in Wisconsin by a Real Clear Average of 6.4%.
Of these three states, Donald Trump leads in only one poll – the Trafalgar Group’s Wisconsin Statewide Presidentialpoll conducted between 06/23/20 – 06/25/20. He leads by 1%.
Beyond these three states, Donald Trump is struggling in some traditional GOP strongholds including Texas, and Arizona. He is also trailing in Ohio (RCP 2.3%) albeit within the margin of error and Florida (RCP 7.0%) That the party is playing defense or losing in these usually reliable states less than four months before the elections means that they are wasting resources – time and money – without expanding the EC map. This is not a good sign.
Coming full circle, it bears repeating that some of the same polls cited above also had Hillary Clinton ahead of Donald Trump in 2016 and we all know how that turned out. On the other hand, there are three important caveat emptors this election cycle:
(i) President Donald Trump is now a known quantity even as most analysts admit that (ii) he is a most unusual public figure/US president. Thirdly, one hopes that the pollsters have revised their polling models to tease out those “social desirables” whose disingenuous, i.e., biased responses confused their models four years ago in 2016.