I never make an Electoral College projection with which I’m not comfortable. My only annoyance this year is that I may have to wait for two or three days after the election to learn how right or wrong I was.
My projection: Joe Biden will be elected President of the United States on Tuesday, November 3, 2020, with at least 323 and a maximum of 375 electoral votes. A candidate needs 270 to win.
The 323 electoral vote total I have projected for Biden is comprised of the electoral votes of all the states and other jurisdictions (i.e. Congressional Districts) where I have projected Biden as a winner. There are three states (Florida, Georgia, and Iowa) and one Congressional district (Maine, Congressional District 2) where I have not yet projected a winner. I hope to do so the night before the election.
Before I break down the electoral votes that Biden is likely to receive, a few prefatory points are in order:
- The determinative issue in this election is the COVID, with the Affordable Healthcare Act (ACA) a close second.
Trump had a chance to turn the issue somewhat to his benefit when he left Walter Reed Hospital, had he done a mea culpa a la Chris Christie. Instead, he made things much worse for himself by mocking and dismissing the danger from the virus. And in the debates, the president was an absolute disaster on the ACA, since after four years, he has no replacement for it.
- Trump has magnified his COVID blunders by staging these superspreader rallies, which have antagonized voters in states where the COVID case number is significantly rising. An archetypal example: Wisconsin, where the ABC-Washington Post Poll this morning reports a Biden lead that has skyrocketed to 17 points. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/10/28/wisconsin-michigan-poll-post-abc/?arc404=true
- Another bad COVID – related blunder by Trump: His discouraging his voters from voting by mail (VBM) and participating in early voting. The Democrats have generated phenomenal VBM and early voting numbers, particularly in the African-American community. Republicans are now petrified that their voters will not show up at the polls on Election Day because of the rising danger of contracting the COVID.
- Race has also been a significant issue in this election, but in the reverse manner than Trump anticipated. The president launched a racist law and order message against Joe Biden. He badly misjudged the American white suburban electorate, however, which is far more racially tolerant than he realized. His message backfired.
- I rely primarily, but not exclusively, on polls in the states to make my projections. I also tend to disregard the Real Clear Politics averages, since they are often skewed by outlier polls with a bad track record.
Instead, I rely on Nate Silver’s Rating of Polls and do not consider the findings of any polls with less than a “B-“rating. Accordingly, I disregard completely such polls as Rasmussen (C+), Gravis (C), Trafalgar (C-), and Susquehanna (C).
By contrast I give substantially extra-credibility to the “Big Six” polls rated A+ by Nate Silver. These polls are Monmouth, Muhlenberg, NYTimes/Siena Upshot, ABC/Washington Post, Marist, and Selzer and Company,
In addition to polls, I try to learn what is being said by persons with special insight in the individual states, particularly those party notables who are unafraid to tell the unvarnished truth, good or bad, about their respective races.
Examples of such individuals are Democrats Senator Sherrod Brown in Ohio, former Governor Ed Rendell in Pennsylvania, and Congresswoman Debbie Dingell in Michigan. Rendell and Dingell went so far as to predict a Hillary Clinton defeat in their states in 2016. Now, all three individuals are predicting in their home states a Biden triumph.
And now, for the breakdown of what I predict will be Biden’s winning Electoral College majority:
HILLARY BASE: 232 Electoral Votes.
These are the electoral votes of all the jurisdictions that Hillary Clinton won in 2016. These are hard-core Democratic states, and the only two that Trump ever had a chance to carry are Nevada and New Hampshire, but both are now firmly in the Biden camp.
THE RUST BELT THREE: 46 Electoral Votes
These are the three states, to wit, Pennsylvania (20), Michigan (16), and Wisconsin (10) that were expected to be won by Hillary Clinton in 2016 but instead gave their electoral votes to Donald Trump. Biden is now firmly ahead in the polls top graded by Nate Silver in all three states, and in Pennsylvania, the early voting and VBM has given the Democrats an insurmountable advantage.
When you add the electoral votes of the Hillary Base to the Rust Belt Three, you get a total of 278, more than the 270 Biden needs for election. Biden, however stands to win at least an additional 45 electoral votes, as follows.
ADDITIONAL BIDEN ACQUISITIONS 45 Electoral Votes
I am projecting Biden victories in Arizona (11), North Carolina (15), Ohio (18), and Nebraska Second Congressional District (1).
In Arizona and North Carolina, the races have been close, but Biden has maintained a steady, albeit narrow, lead throughout October in virtually all the polls rated by Nate Silver as B- or above. In Arizona, my sources in Maricopa County (Phoenix) are saying something interesting: that the presence of popular Democratic US Senate candidate Mark Kelly on the ballot is actually pushing up the Biden totals!
Ohio is a major labor state, ideal for Joe Biden. Forget about the polls, which have it within the margin of error, and listen to Sherrie Brown – Biden will carry it.
In the Nebraska Second Congressional District, the polls have had Biden up by seven percent.
When you add this category of my projected Biden Additional Acquisitions to those projected for him from the Hillary Base and the Rust Belt Three, you get a total of 323 electoral votes. That is my minimum Joe Biden electoral vote projection.
Biden, however, has a strong opportunity to get additional electoral votes from the toss-up jurisdictions.
THE TOSS-UPS. 52 Electoral Votes
The toss-ups are Florida (29), Georgia (16), Iowa (6), and Maine Second Congressional District (1).
Based upon my reading of the trends in the polls and my knowledge of the political context, my current inclination is to project Trump a winner in Florida and Biden a winner in Georgia and Iowa. It’s a mixed picture in these states, however, and I want to wait on more polling before I make a final call.
A note on Texas. It will be close, but Trump will carry it. Texas is not quite a toss-up and not quite a purple state. It is, however, a state that is trending Democratic, and the Democrats may make some gains in the US House of Representatives races and local races.
Stay tuned. As the late, great Jack Paar used to say, more to come…….
Alan Steinberg served as Regional Administrator of Region 2 EPA during the administration of former President George W. Bush and as Executive Director of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission.