- Returning things to normal could be the best way to aid Trump’s ratings
- The election monitor and what it is telling us: Biden, Biden - and yep, Biden
- Florida: historically this wafer-thin marginal is set for another close fight in 2020
Analysis: Trump’s Best Chance is to Get Things Back to Normal
It has been a full two and a half months since our model showed Donald Trump leading Joe Biden - since then Biden has led Trump, without fail, on every single day.
The last day Trump led in the polls was actually May 6, and looking at the news and zeitgeist at the time, his brief spell of last-gasp popularity may have something to do with his support for lifting lockdown measures - a broadly popular stance with the quarantine-weary and financially under pressure electorate, and given the U.S.’s proud history of upholding civil liberties.
This suggests his popularity may be closely linked to the progression of the COVID-19 pandemic and his response to it.
The bottom line for Trump, it could be argued, is that the sooner he can get things back to normal, the sooner his support is likely to return to pre-coronavirus levels. Yet this seems increasingly unlikely as individual governors begin locking their states back down as cases resurge in a second wave.
Of course, lockdown is not the only factor affecting Trump’s approval ratings - his handling of the George Floyd protests also negatively impacted ratings - yet it does seem to be a major driver.
The discovery of a vaccine would be the single biggest step to returning life to normal and potentially aiding a Trump recovery, and yet most estimates place the development of such a vaccine in late 2020, which doesn’t really give the President enough time to return the economy back to normal or even to play the ‘COVID savior’ role to its fullest. That said, a recent breakthrough by scientists at Oxford University suggests we are now much closer to developing a vaccine than seemed the case before.
All in all, despite improvements in the outlook for a vaccine and things returning to normal, Trump’s chances of recovering his prior lead seem pretty low.
Monitor Shows Biden Winning
The election monitor continues to show Joe Biden leading the race to the White House and being the likely winner if the election were held tomorrow. At the time of writing it forecasts a 78 electoral vote lead for Biden, with a win of 308 to 230 electoral votes, with a probability of winning of 93.9%.
In addition, over the last 24hrs Biden has extended his lead in the two swing states of Wisconsin and Michigan, as well as North Carolina.
One of the key inputs into the monitor’s forecasting model is news sentiment and this is showing Biden clearly leading by 67.4% to Trump’s 32.6%.
The level of election-related ‘Media Attention’, however, which is another key input into the monitor’s forecasting model, is actually showing Trump with higher levels overall, and by state.
Opinion polls are painting more of a mixed picture, although even here Biden is leading by 49.5% to 40.5%, and in our experience, when both polls and our model projections are in agreement the forecast is more robust, reinforcing Biden’s likelihood to win.
It is also interesting to note how all the states where Biden is projected to win are also all showing him leading in the polls - without fail.
Yet for Trump the opposite is true, and in no less than 6 states our model’s projections are at odds with the polls, which historically has suggested the result may not be clear-cut.
These 6 states are shown in the table below, with related values:
The biggest divergence is in Nebraska where the model is projecting a hands-down victory for Trump with a 95.0% confidence level, whereas the opinion polls are telling a different story with Biden leading with 51.0% versus Trump’s 44.0%.
Georgia promises to be something of a battleground state too, with Trump winning with a 78.9% confidence according to the model but trailing in polls by a percentage point at 46.0%.
Florida On a Knife Edge
Florida has always been one of the most difficult states to call. In the 2000 Bush-Gore election it was the subject of repeated recounts, delaying the end result by over a month. The winner of Florida eventually had to be decided in a Supreme Court with judges voting by a slim 5 to 4 margin to hand the victory to Bush.
Florida is increasingly looking like it could be the site of another close battle in 2020, according to leading election information websites like 270towin, The Cook Political Report, Sabato's Crystal Ball, The Economist, and our own news analytics platform, showing it as the most co-mentioned with words associated with marginality, such as “toss-up”, “battleground” and “swing”.
As far as the election news monitor goes, it is showing Biden leading in Florida, but by only a sliver of a 51.0% chance over Trump’s 49.0%.
Interestingly our model projections confirm opinion polls, which also show Biden leading Trump in Florida, although by 48.3% to 42.3%.
As has already been mentioned, in our experience, when both polls and our model’s projections are in agreement the forecast is more robust, reinforcing Biden’s likelihood to win in this key state - although we are still at an early stage in the race.
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