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BTRTN Election Snapshot: Democrats’ Odds of a Trifecta Continue to Rise Slightly

Tom with the latest update on the state of all the national races. 

STATE OF THE RACE

The political landscape in the stretch drive to Election
Day has been utterly upended by the death of revered liberal Supreme Court Justice
Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the ensuing GOP rush-to-confirm hyper-hypocrisy led by
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Or has it?

We’ll see.  It’s very
early in the process, no matter how accelerated it promises to be.  We don’t even have a nominee yet and then, we
have the whole confirmation circus to get through, likely to be compressed within the remaining election cycle.  This
is a classic case of spraying lighter fluid on the already roaring flames of
the Biden-Trump election showdown.  If
you thought the Brett Kavanaugh hearings were unseemly, they wil
l seem like a
friendly round of croquet before this one is through.
  It is impossible to foretell the impact all
this will have on the electorate, and don’t forget – they are already casting
votes.

But as of now, early polling indicates the Republican’s about-face
in filling this seat after refusing to consider Barack Obama’s pick (Merritt Garland)
in 2016 is not helping them one bit — and may even be hu
rting.  There have been at least three polls that
indicate the plurality, if not the majority of Americans oppose Trump naming
Ginsberg’s successor rather than the November winner – Morning Consult has it
at 50/37, Y
ouGov at 51/42, and Ipsos/Reuters has it all the way up to
62/23.
  In each poll, the independents
reflect the overall figures.
 

Trump and McConnell are not expanding the GOP base, for
sure, with this tack, and if they are 
thinking the enthusiasm factor will be a
plus to get out the vote, the Morning Consult polls appears to support the
opposite.  It is the Democrats who appear to be more energized by the GOP push.
  To wit: the percentage of Democrats who said
the Supreme Court was a “very important” factor in their election decision
jumped
12 points after RBG’s death, to 60%, while the Republicans, on the same
question, increased by only
four points, to only 54%.  For those more persuaded by anecdotes, today
I went to a Zoom texting training session, one of
1,400 volunteers attending this single session.  And, of course, the Democrats have been donating by the bushel since RBG’s death, over $100,000 per minute in the immediate aftermath, and over $90 million in the first 28 hours

Trump strategists will argue
that the court battle changes the dominant subject of the campaign from
COVID-19, a terrible issue for Trump and the GOP (polls indicate that American
disapprove of Trump’s handling of COVID-19 by a 56/40 margin) to a more
favorable one, filling the courts with conservative judges.
  But the Biden camp is
already turning the SCOTUS issue into a health care issue, another terrible
topic for Trump and the GOP, who have never put forward a plan to replace
Obamacare.
  Health care (and health
insurance) remains a leading issue on the minds of voters, along with COVID and
the economy.
  Trump, of course, vastly refers to talk
about the economy and the courts, while Biden will focus on COVID and health
care.

As for the down ballot races, it is instructive to see how
the GOP incumbents who are in reelection fights for their political lives are
handling the SCOTUS issue.  Martha McSally
of Arizona and Thom Tillis of North Carolina both quickly jumped on the
McConnell bandwagon, while Corey Gardner of Colorado waited a bit before doing
so.  Susan Collins, badly bruised in
Maine by her support of Brett Kavanaugh and later Trump in the impeachment hearings,
was the first to announce that she opposed the McConnell process.

And what of Lindsey Graham? 
Locked in a dead heat with Jaime Harrison in South Carolina, he found
himself portrayed, with good reason, as the poster child of GOP hypocrisy, with endlessly
looping video of his hard-to-spin statement from 2016: 
“I want you to use my words against me. 
If there’s a Republican president in 2016 and a vacancy occurs in the
last year of the first term, you can say Lindsey Graham said let’s let the next
president, whoever it might be, make that nomination.”  Suffice to say, those words are indeed being
used against him.

But there is a silver lining for Graham as well.  He will command the spotlight in the Senate
Judiciary Committee hearings, as Chair, and from that platform remind
conservative South Carolinians that he is dead solid behind Trump and doing his
bidding.  And by Graham’s calculus, that
is worth a flip-flop, even one of Olympian proportion.

 

THE ODDS

As of this moment, the Democrats have a very good chance of
pulling off a “trifecta” – Joe Biden winning the presidency, the Democrats
flipping the Senate, and also maintaining control of the House (the latter
almost a certainty).

Election Odds of Democrats’ Winning/Controlling

President

Senate

House

82%

67%

99%

Electoral Votes

Composition/(Dem Change)

Composition/(Dem Change)

335 Biden/203 Trump

50 Dem*/50 GOP (D +3)

250 Dems/188 GOP (Dems +17)

*Including
Independents who caucus with the Democrats. 
Also assumes Biden wins the presidency, which would require the
Democrats to get to 50 seats to control the Senate.

These odds have been reasonably stable over time, though unmistakably
inching upwards for the Democrats.

BTRTN Democrats Odds of Winning

Date >>>

5/9

5/28

7/1

8/2

8/24

9/8

9/15

9/22

Presidency

n/a

73%

82%

82%

81%

79%

81%

82%

Senate Control

59%

59%

59%

62%

62%

65%

65%

67%

House Control

99%

99%

99%

99%

99%

99%

99%

99%

Having delivered this favorable Blue news, this would be a
very good time to reintroduce our “warning label,” which should be the mantra
for all Democrats.
 

WARNING:  No matter how good the numbers look
at any given time, the Democrats will not win any election unless they work
hard to earn it – registering voters, calling, texting, donating – throughout
the summer and fall, up to and including Election Day.

And remember, this is a snapshot,
not a
forecast.

THE PRESIDENTIAL RACE

The national polls continue to be very positive for Joe
Biden, and have changed little over time.
 
He remains +7 points ahead of Trump. 
Keep in mind when you look at national polls that, given the inherent
GOP advantage in the Electoral College make-up, Biden has to be up +4 to be
considered truly “ahead.”
  Yes, the GOP
advantage is that pronounced, as Hillary Clinton discovered in 2016, when she
won the national vote by 2.1 percentage points but lost the electoral vote.
  But +7 is a very healthy margin, worth an
extra 5-6 million votes for Biden versus Clinton; it would be very difficult
for Trump to pull off an “inside straight” again, finding those magical 78,000
votes in those swing states, given a margin nearing, perhaps, eight million
votes.

TRUMP VS BIDEN HEAD-TO-HEAD NATIONAL POLLS

 

Jul

Aug

wk
ending Sep 5

wk
ending Sep 12

wk
ending Sep 19

Biden

49

49

50

50

49

Trump

41

42

43

43

43

Diff

8.0

7.4

7.0

7.3

6.7

Biden continues to dominate the swing state polls as well.  In the month of September, there have been 71
polls across 14 swings states and two swing districts (Maine’s 2
nd and Nebraska’s 2nd), and Biden is ahead in 57 of them; Trump has led
in only eight, with six ties.

At this stage, we see Biden with an 82% chance of winning
the presidency, up a tick mark since last week’s 81%.  That modest improvement is mostly accounted for
by two BTRTN rating changes in the last week, both in Biden’s direction, and
both in Maine.

Ratings
Changes

From

To

Maine

D
Likely

D
Solid

Maine
2nd District

R
TU

D
TU

Biden is thus ahead in states and districts that total 335
electoral votes to 203 for Trump.
  At this
point, Biden could lose ALL EIGHT toss-up states and
still win the election. 
Biden has many “paths” to 270 votes, but the simplest one, perhaps, is
to keep every state Hillary Clinton won (and he is ahead of all of them), flip
Arizona, Michigan and Wisconsin, each of which he leads by a healthy 6-7
points, and then flip either Maine’s 2nd
 or Nebraska’s 2nd.  That gets him to 270. 

Mind you, Biden, also
leads in Pennsylvania by +4, which is worth another 20 electoral votes, and is
in essentially dead heats in those 8 toss-ups states.  If Biden swept all the toss-ups he could get
to a whopping 413, a modern day landslide.

Trump can only count on his solid base of 125 electoral
votes in 22 states or districts.  The
rest are either toss ups now or leaning to Biden in various degrees. 

BTRTN PRESIDENT SNAPSHOT

BTRTN Rating

Entities

Electoral Votes

DEM TOTAL

30

335

Dem Solid

19

212

Dem Likely

2

14

Dem Lean

5

63

Dem Toss-up

4

46

GOP Toss-up

4

78

GOP Lean

0

0

GOP Likely

0

0

GOP Solid

22

125

GOP TOTAL

26

203

 

Here is the state-by-state look.

BTRTN 2020 PRESIDENTIAL SNAPSHOT

States

2020 Electoral Votes

2016 Margin

Swing State Poll Avg

BTRTN Rating

Solid Dem (19 states or districts,
212 electoral votes): California, Colorado, Connecticut, DC, Delaware,
Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maine 1st District, Massachusetts, New Hampshire,
New Mexico, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia,
Washington

 

 

 

 

 

Minnesota

10

Clinton
+2

Biden
+9

D
Likely

New Hampshire

4

Clinton
+0.3

Biden
+6

D
Likely

Wisconsin

10

Trump
+1

Biden
+7

D
Lean

Michigan

16

Trump
+0.2

Biden
+7

D
Lean

Arizona

11

Trump
+4

Biden
+6

D
Lean

Nevada

6

Clinton
+2

Biden
+4

D
Lean

Pennsylvania

20

Trump
+1

Biden
+4

D
Lean

Nebraska 2nd District

1

Trump
+2

Biden
+7

D
TU

Maine 2nd District

1

Trump
+10

Biden
+4

D
TU

Florida

29

Trump
+1

Biden
+2

D
TU

North Carolina

15

Trump
+4

Biden
+1

D
TU

Ohio

18

Trump
+11

Trump
+1

R
TU

Texas

38

Trump
+9

Trump
+2

R
TU

Iowa

6

Trump
+9

Trump
+2

R
TU

Georgia

16

Trump
+5

Trump
+4

R
TU

 

 

 

 

 

Solid GOP (22 states or districts,
125 electoral votes):  Alabama, Alaska,
Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri,
Montana, Nebraska, Nebraska 1st and 3rd Districts, North Dakota, Oklahoma,
South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia, Wyoming


THE SENATE

The Democrats, of course, need to flip a net of +3 seats,
along with a Biden win, to gain control of the Senate with 50 seats (including
the two Independents that caucus with them). 
With the prospects of holding Alabama looking exceedingly grim, the fate
is Senate control will come down to whether the Democrats can flip at least
four seats.

Right now two of those potential flips – in Arizona and
Colorado – are looking very solid for the Dems, with Mark Kelly and John
Hickenlooper, respectively, sporting leads approaching double digits.  And two other potential flips are looking
very promising, Maine and North Carolina, where the Democratic challengers Sara
Gideon and Cal Cunningham, respectively,are up by roughly 4-5 percentage
points.

And, remarkably, the Democrats are putting on tremendous
pressure on five other GOP-held
seats:  Iowa, Georgia (the regular
election), Kansas, Montana and South Carolina. 
Limited polling indicates Alaska is close, too, though we don’t quite
believe that yet.  And who knows what
will come out of Georgia’s special election, which will have a jungle primary
on Election Day, setting up a potential run-off in January.

So at this juncture, that net seems more likely than not –
we now have increased the odds to 67% from 65%. 
Those increased odds reflect positive Democratic movement in three races
that have resulted in BTRTN ratings changes as follows:

Ratings
Changes

From

To

Minnesota

D
Lean

D
Likely

Ga

R
Lean

R
Toss Up

Montana

R
Lean

R
Toss Up

Our ratings now falls as follows, pointing to a 50/50
composition post-election, enough for the Dems to claim control with a Biden
win, with Kamala Harris presiding with the tiebreaking vote.

BTRTN SENATE SNAPSHOT

BTRTN Rating

Current

Flips

DEM TOTAL

50

4

Dem Holdover

35

0

Dem Solid

9

0

Dem Likely

3

2

Dem Lean

3

2

Dem Toss-up

0

0

GOP Toss-up

5

0

GOP Lean

1

0

GOP Likely

3

1

GOP Solid

11

0

GOP Holdover

30

0

GOP TOTAL

50

1

Here is how each race “in play” is shaping up, in a
nutshell.

SENATE SNAPSHOT

State

Inc. Party

Dem Nominee

GOP Nominee

2014 Margin

2016  Pres Margin

BTRTN Rating

2020 Recent Polls Avg

Dem Seats not up for reelection in
2020 (35)

Solid Dem (9): Delaware (Coons),
Illinois (Durbin), Mass (Markey), NH (Shaheen), NM (Lujon), NJ (Booker),
Oregon (Merkeley), RI (Reed), VA (Warner)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arizona

R

Kelly

McSally

D + 2*

R + 3

D
Likely Flip

D +
10

Colorado

R

Hickenlooper

Gardner

R +
2

D +
5

D
Likely Flip

D +
8

Minnesota

D

Smith

Lewis

D + 11*

D + 2

D
Likely

D +
7

Michigan

D

Peters

James

D + 13

R + 0.2

D
Lean

D +
8

Maine

R

Gideon

Collins

R + 37

D +
3

D
Lean Flip

D +
5

N.
Carolina

R

Cunningham

Tillis

R + 2

R + 4

D
Lean Flip

D +
4

Iowa

R

Greenfield

Ernst

R + 8

R + 10

R
Toss Up

Even

S.
Carolina

R

Harrison

Graham

R + 15

R + 14

R
Toss Up

Even

Georgia

R

Ossoff

Perdue

R + 8

R + 5

R
Toss Up

R +
1

Montana

R

Bullock

Daines

R + 18

R + 20

R
Toss Up

R +
2

Kansas

R

Bollier

Marshall

R + 11

R + 21

R
Toss Up

R +
2

Georgia
(S)

R

open primary 11/3; run
off 1/5/21

R+14*

R + 5

R
Lean

n/a

Alaska

R

Gross

Sullivan

R + 2

R + 15

R
Likely

Even

Kentucky

R

McGrath

McConnell

R + 15

R + 30

R
Likely

R +
9

Alabama

D

Jones

Tuberville

D +2*

R + 28

R
Likely Flip

R +
9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Solid GOP (11):  Arkansas (Cotton), Idaho (Risch), Louisiana
(Cassidy), Mississippi (Hyde-Smith), Nebraska (Sasse), Oklahoma (Inhofe),
South Dakota (Rounds), Tennessee (Hagerty), Texas (Cornyn), West Virginia
(Caputo), Wyoming (Lummus)

GOP seats not up for reelection in
2020:  (30)

* Arizona margin from 2018
election (Sinema beat McSally; McSally was appointed after McCain’s death);
Alabama from 2017 special election; Minnesota from 2018 special election

THE HOUSE

The Democrats already hold a large majority in the
House.  The current count is 232
Democrats to 198 Republicans with one Libertarian and four vacancies.  When you take the four vacancies and
apportion them back to their original holder, and assign the Libertarian to the
GOP (he’s Justin Amish, the former GOP turned Independent turned Libertarian,
who is not running for reelection), then the effective split is 233 to 205.

By far the most important predictor of how many seats will
switch parties is the generic ballot. 
For years we have come within a few seats based on our regression models
that feature that variable.  For
instance, in 2018, BTRTN predicted the Democrats would flip 38 seats from red
to blue, and they actually flipped 41 seats.

This year, the generic ballot continues to heavily favor
the Democrats.  The most recent set of
generic ballot polls, in September, continue to show the Democrats up by
roughly seven points.  If the Democrats
maintain this margin through Election Day, they would be expected to flip 17
more seats, give or take a few, to get to a whopping 250 to 188 margin.

Also – there is simply no way the GOP can possibly flip the
House.  We are being kind to put the odds
of the Dems holding the House at 99%; we are simply allowing for the highly
unlikely threat of a meteor landing.

HOUSE SNAPSHOT

House

As of 9/23

Generic Ballot

Dem + 6.9

 

 

Democrats

250 (+17)

Republicans

188 (-17)

And always remember this:

WARNING:  No matter how good the numbers look
at any given time, the Democrats will not win any election unless they work
hard to earn it – registering voters, calling, texting, donating – throughout
the summer and fall, up to and including Election Day.

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