With just days to go, a race that has remained surprisingly steady for months is flashing some warning signs that things are tightening, and Joe Biden’s advantage may not be as strong as it seems.
Warning signs in Iowa
The Final Selzer poll out of Iowa, a historically respected, high-quality poll, found President Donald Trump leading by seven points, roughly the same margin of four years ago, which foretold a Mid-Western sweep. The result will cause a ripple of anxiety among Democratic operatives, as the poll goes against the grain of most other polling in the state. Polls generally also seem to show a tightening in the Iowa Senate race, where Republican incumbent Joni Ernst is in a competitive race against Theresa Greenfield. The seat was considered a likely pathway for the Democrats to secure 50 seats in the Senate, and if the tightening in the Senate polls proves accurate, it will narrow the Democrats prospects substantially to a likely combination of Arizona, Colorado, Maine and North Carolina. The Democrats would be hoping to pad a majority with one or two seats if they want to pursue a robust liberal agenda, and not have to rely on the votes of Conservative Democrats like Senator Joe Manchin in West Virginia. It is also crucial if the Democrats want to attempt some transformative maneuvers like removing the filibuster, or adding justices to the Supreme Court.
Trump is leading by seven points in Iowa, roughly the same margin of four years ago, which foretold a Mid-Western sweep.
Warning signs in Florida
Joe Biden has made substantial inroads among seniors and with white voters in Florida, as he has generally. But his support among Latinos has trailed away somewhat, compared to Hillary Clinton four years ago. The Trump campaign has been working aggressively to woo Latino voters in the state, who represent disparate communities and interests, among them Venezuelan and Cuban voters, many of whom fled socialist regimes, and are skeptical of socialist principles and politicians. The Trump campaign has also made some inroads with Latino men, who perhaps seem responsive to Trump’s machismo and brand of rugged individualism. The crucial part of the state is Miami Dade County, a traditional Democratic stronghold. Turnout seems a little lackluster compared to previous cycles, and the lead among Democratic early voters has shrunk considerably, with the lead cut from around 430,000 to 110,000. Democrats will struggle to win the state if Miami Dade doesn’t deliver. Trump essentially needs to win Florida to have a pathway to a second term.
Biden doesn’t necessarily need Florida, but were he to lose it, his odds of winning the electoral college dip to about 70% in the 538 model.
Warning signs in Pennsylvania
The Biden campaign is becoming increasingly concerned about lagging turnout in the African American community in key states, in particular the potentially decisive state of Pennsylvania. As of Sunday, nearly 75% of registered black voters have not yet voted. The analysis also shows a surge of non-college educated white voters, who represent the bedrock of Trump’s support. Top campaign operatives in the Biden campaign have pointed to historical trends that indicate black voters often prefer to show up in person, but are nonetheless concerned about levels of targeting and investment in the community.
The Biden campaign is becoming increasingly concerned about lagging turnout in the African American community in key states.
Watch: The 2020 Election Race Is Still Tight Between Trump And Biden
Warning signs about a repeat ‘not-quite’ scenario for the Democrats
In the 2018 midterm elections, Democrats were running neck and neck or leading in some traditionally Republican or otherwise competitive states. In Georgia, they had an energetic and charismatic candidate in Stacey Abrams, who galvanized a minority base and attracted staggering sums of outside money against her Republican opponent. Andrew Gillum, in Florida, also African American, also young and charismatic, and also attracting vast sums of outside money, ran for Governor. In Texas, young, charismatic Beto O’Rourke similarly galvanized a dormant Democratic voter base against incumbent Republican Senator Ted Cruz, and attracted vast outside sums of cash and national media attention. All three candidates fell short of election by a couple of points. This curse of ‘not-quiteness’ for the Democrats could feasibly be about to happen again.
Were President Trump to experience a 2% swing in his favor on election day in the battleground states, then a large number of swing states could simultaneously tip into the Republican fold: Georgia, Florida, Arizona, North Carolina, Iowa, Texas, Ohio would all end up in the Republican column. In order for this to happen, the polls don’t have to be as wrong as they were in 2016, they just have to be somewhat wrong. The same dynamic applies in the race for the Senate.