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Erick Erickson / Oct. 23, 2020

The Final Full Week

I think the GOP is running from behind and time is running out to change the trajectory of the race.

In the RealClearPolitics polling average, Joe Biden has a 4.2% lead in the battleground states at the time of this writing. That is more relevant than the national polls. Had 2016 not happened, we’d all be writing the obituary of the Trump campaign right now.

By any normal metric, President Donald Trump is toast, and the GOP is losing the Senate.

But these are not normal times, and 2016 showed that there is an undercounting of Trump voters out there. There are also some pollsters who just excel at really poor polling that skews polling averages. For example, I don’t know any pollster this year on either side of the aisle who is putting any stock in Quinnipiac’s polling, but that poll skews the polling averages. It is, however, offset with Rasmussen, another bad pollster who tends to go toward the GOP. That is why the polling averages matter.

Likewise, a lot of Republican and Democrat pollsters I have talked to have taken to adding two points flat-out to the President’s numbers. So, for example, the Florida polling average at this writing has Joe Biden up by 2.1%. Add two points to Trump and Florida is a tied race. So, too, are North Carolina and Arizona.

The problem for the President is that Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin still have a Biden lead by adding two points to Trump in the polling averages. That, of course, comes back to the question of if the polls are right. I fall back on the position that no, the polls are not right, but the polling averages do a good job of sorting out what is happening, and the polling averages and their related trend lines suggest a few things.

First, the polling average suggests this remains Biden’s race to lose and all the speculating about taking days to determine a winner could very easily be a moot point by 1 a.m. on election night.

Second, the polling average suggests the Democrats are on the verge of taking the Senate, but it is too close to call with states such as Iowa suddenly looking more favorable to the Republicans.

Third, the polling trend lines suggest Republicans who were wayward are starting to consolidate behind the President, and that is helping him in a few key states, including Pennsylvania, where the President’s trend lines are headed in the right direction. This also means the Democrats have wasted a ton of money in places such as South Carolina that could have helped them in places such as Montana or Iowa for Senate races.

Fourth, if the race continues in its present trajectory, the GOP could very well see itself lose a few state legislative houses, which will set back the party for a decade in trying to recapture the House of Representatives.

Fifth, the Democrats are set to pick up more seats in the House of Representatives.

Sixth, all the bluster in the press about the early vote is ignoring that these are mostly passionate voters and not new voters. These are people who would have shown up on Election Day and whose minds are made up, so don’t think the President cannot overcome a wave of early voting to win.

But, and this is what you must understand, the President has had relentlessly negative media coverage, but had 2016 not happened, the coverage of his campaign would be even more relentlessly negative in these final two weeks of his 2020 campaign. The question no one has an answer to is: Can Trump defy expectations twice?

If you like him, you think he can. If you don’t like him, you think he cannot. I have no idea, but at the risk of pissing off my readers, I think the GOP is running from behind and time is running out to change the trajectory of the race. It is possible but increasingly less probable that they can do it. The tsunami warnings are still sounding for the GOP, and behind the scenes, they know it, even as they paint rosy pictures in the media.

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