Today is the day politics nerds – and those who are deeply interested in the political fate of western civilisation – have been both anticipating and dreading for four years. The US presidential election. The chance for Trump to be judged on his presidency. For once, the hyperbole surrounding an election is fully justified – this really is the entire future of the western world we’re talking about here.
In 2016, I predicted on the day of the election that Donald Trump would win. I didn’t employ any sophisticated psephology to come to this conclusion; I went with my gut. I asked myself if America felt on the verge of electing the first woman president, or if it was about to elect a reality gameshow host and figured the latter felt way more likely. In making my prediction in 2020, I’m trying as best I can to stick to the same method.
Having said that, I can’t ignore all of psephological reality either. It’s well known that Biden has a large lead with those who have voted early, but that Trump catches up with those who intend to vote today. This brings two things to mind for me. One, in voting terms, it’s better to have votes banked than rely on turnout on the day. Some pundits have gone on about the Trump army, desperate to vote for their man. I think the reality is much more prosaic. I can imagine a lot of long time Republican voters not bothering this time out – it happened in 2008 with Palin. Two, I don’t believe the huge surge we’ve seen in early voting is simply down to Covid – or even more importantly, that this is indicative of an electorate desperate to hang on to its incumbent.
Trump has run a surprisingly bad campaign as well. The attacks on Biden have been weak and they haven’t gone after Kamala at all, which is interesting. I thought we were going to get a whole run of “we are one heart attack away from a (dogwhistle: black, female) socialist in the White House”. The Hunter Biden thing is terrible campaigning 101. The Hilary emails had cut through because they were simple to understand, fit in with what people didn’t like about Clinton already and were specifically related to her. Some crap about Biden’s son that no one’s heard of that is complicated and weird? This is what they decided to try up the homestretch?
I think it’s going to be a blowout for Biden. Like, 350+ in the EV, Trump never has a chance to declare victory because it’s never in sight. This is what my gut is telling me. Mostly.
There is a nagging worry that won’t go away, however. Not that Trump will win, but that it will be a close Biden victory instead. If that happens, it will be hell. Trump will cling on with everything he’s got – and given it’s all to play for, most of the GOP will play along. All the while, democracy in America will be dragged further through the mud as everything becomes relative, everything a partisan battle front.
Like I say, a Biden blowout feels like what’s going to happen. The only reason we’re so wary about it is what happened in 2016. But learn from the 2019 general election in the UK – a lot of us figured Corbyn might do better than expected because of what he pulled off in 2017. Except, in politics, lighting never strikes twice. Trump was extremely lucky in 2016 and won it by the skin of his teeth. Four bad years, up against a better candidate whom he is trailing by around eight points going into today, having run a terrible campaign, the question isn’t whether Trump is going to win. It’s whether he gets blown away, creating a new era of American and indeed, western politics – or whether there is a painful battle to get to the other side, one that will leave its scars. See you on the other side, folks.
Richard Vergette says
Thanks Nick. Insightful, sharp and well argued as ever. As someone said recently, Biden has the better hand but Trump owns the casino!
My prediction: a numerically close Biden victory, but no opportunity for Trump to litigate because he loses Florida (narrowly but convincingly), and so no matter what other counts he challenges he has no realistic way to put together the required majority. Trump storms off in bad grace and spends the next four years telling anyone who will listen how much better things would have been if he’d been in charge.
And so it is proved that in 2016 the Democrats — for utterly unfathomable reasons (it was ‘her turn’? Really? You threw away the White House on the principle of Buggins’s turn?) — decided to put up literally the only human being on the planet so unpopular they could lose an election to Donald Trump.
And this is why I don’t gamble.