BTRTN: And they’re gone! Labor Day snapshot of the President, Senate and House races

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

It seems like a lifetime since the countless presidential candidates announced their promising candidacies.
In fact, it was on July 28, 2017 that John Delaney – do you remember him? – was the first to explain. But we’re finally here, at the traditional Labor Day kick-off to the stretch drive of the election season. The end is in sight.

Of course, so much is weird, new and different this year as COVID-19 is above the elections and, indeed, above any risky move we take. Even the The political calendar is changing as states extend early voting to allow more time for safer voting methods, which in turn will almost certainly result in a multi-day, if not multi-week counting period after election day.

In just over a week, September 18, early voting will begin in Minnesota, South Dakota and Wyoming.
Five more states will start early voting at the end of September, and another 30 in October. Mail-in-voting is expected to more than double in 2020 compared to 2016, from 33 million to perhaps up to 80 million ballots. And nobody knows which party, despite these statements by Donald Trump, will benefit more from this dynamic.

So when we start with what is arguably the weirdest endgame of all, let’s take stock of where all the national elections are in a Labor Day BTRTN snapshot – remember, not a prediction, just a look at where things are today stand . There is still a lot of time to change – there are still a thousand micro-message cycles available in these last 55 days.

From that moment on, the Democrats have a very good chance of achieving a “trifecta” – Joe Biden wins the presidency, the Democrats flip the Senate and keep control of the house (the latter is almost certain).

Chances of voting for winning / controlling Democrats

251 Dems / 184 GOP (Dems +18)

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

In light of this, this would be a very good time to reintroduce our “warning label” which should be the mantra for Democrats.

WARNING: No matter how good the numbers look at any given point in time, the Democrats won’t win elections unless they work hard to earn them – registering voters, calling, texting, donating – during the summer and fall up to and including election day .

Despite the hubbub surrounding the two conventions and the outrage, protests and violence sparked by the Kenosha shooting of Jacob Blake, not much has changed in terms of the president’s race. The national polls are clearly unmoved.

National surveys (number of them)

Post-Convention polls (12)

Surveys before the August Convention (15)

Keep this in mind when looking at national polls where, given the inherent GOP advantage, Biden must have moved up +4 in the composition of the electoral college to be considered truly “ahead”. Yes, the GOP advantage is the most pronounced, as Hillary Clinton noted in 2016, when she won the national vote by 2.1 percentage points but lost the electoral vote.

The swing state polling is more difficult than fine-grained for many reasons: There are fewer polls per state, these polls are less up-to-date and, according to most reports, the quality of the state polls has not improved noticeably since 2016. However, the fact remains that Biden leads the swing state polls (62 out of 86 polls since July 1, while Trump has only led 21 with 3 draws).

At this point, our models show Biden with a 79% chance of winning the presidency, a slight decrease from the 81% we calculated last month. This modest decrease is mainly due to a tightening of the Florida race, which we changed from Lean to Biden to Toss Up (still in Biden’s camp).

Biden is ahead in states with a total of 333 votes to 205 for Trump. At that point, Biden could lose ALL NINE throwing states and still win the election. The key to this is flipping Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, each of which is leading by 5-6 points. (Note:
Polls in Wisconsin after Kenosha show Biden maintains that lead.)

Here is the view from state to state.


Solid Dem (18 states or counties, 210 votes): California, Colorado, Connecticut, DC, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, 1st District Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington

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

Other current campaign tidbits matter. The Biden campaign raised $ 365 million in August, a record number. The previous high for a single month was when Barack Obama raised $ 193 million in September 2008. Trump has not yet announced his August transport, but is said to be in a financial crisis after spending $ 800 million of the $ 1.1 billion he has raised so far.
The importance of the Biden Sum is hard to underestimate – it gives Biden the ability to dump Trump in many states, forcing him to “defend” in places like Texas. And it neutralizes Trump’s “free media” advantage, which the incumbent naturally enjoys, and Trump is playing to the max (though not always successfully, to be sure) through his Twitter feeds and press conferences.

Trump, for his part, foolishly suggested that North Carolina voters “vote twice,” once by mail and once in person. This madness ignores the fact that people tend to vote by mail when they can’t or won’t vote in person (due to COVID-19). And of course it’s fraudulent and a crime.

Perhaps more importantly – and so as not to minimize the importance of persuading supporters to break the law – Trump is digging himself out of a big bunch in which a report in Atlantic magazine reports that Trump killed soldiers from WWI on a trip to Paris and refuses to visit soldiers whom he called “losers” and “fools”. He has also attacked his own military leaders for being too belligerent with motivation to fill the pockets of defense companies. Trump cannot currently afford minor defects in any segment, and military families are a particularly significant group.

The fate of the Senate’s control may be traced back to four states: Arizona, Colorado, Maine, and North Carolina. The Dems are likely to lose their reigning seat in Alabama and will have to flip four seats to get to 50. This magic number is required to take control of the Senate, provided Biden wins. (We can’t think of a scenario where Trump wins and the Democrats manage to get 51 seats.)

But at this point the net flip +3 (with a Biden win) seems more than likely. The Dems lead materially in each of these four GOP-held seats in these states, and struggle to make it even more likely with the GOP-held seats in Iowa, Kansas, and South Carolina. And they also put pressure on Republican senators Alaska and Kentucky (yes, Mitch McConnell is in a real race.)

The polls are slightly stronger for the Democrats than they were in our last look, so the chances of the Democrats taking control of the Senate have increased from 62% to 65%.

Here’s how each race “in the game” gets to the point.

The seat is not up for re-election in 2020 (35)

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

open elementary school 11/3; expire on 01/05/21

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

GOP seats are not up for re-election in 2020: (30)

* Arizona’s head start after the 2018 election (Sinema def. McSally; McSally was appointed after McCain’s death); Alabama from 2017 special election; Minnesota from 2018 special election

The Democrats already have a large majority in the house. The current number is 232 Democrats to 198 Republicans with one libertarian and four vacancies. If you take the four vacancies and reassign them to their original owner and reassign the GOP to the libertarians (he is Justin Amish, the former GOP became an independent libertarian), the effective current division of the 435 open seats is 233-202.

By far the most important predictor of how many seats the parties will switch is the general vote.
For years we have only been a few steps away from the actual result due to our regression models. For example, in 2018, BTRTN predicted that Democrats would move 38 seats from red to blue, and they actually moved 41 seats. The most powerful variable in the regression models is the generic ballot.

This year, the Democrats continue to enjoy high preference in the general vote. The latest general votes since the end of the GOP convention show that the Democrats are still up around 8 points. If Democrats maintain that margin through election day, they are expected to switch 18 more seats, giving or taking some, to a whopping 251-184 lead.

Also – there’s just no way the GOP can turn the house around. We’re kind to set the Dems’ chance of holding the house to 99%; We are simply allowing the highly unlikely danger of a meteor landing.

And always remember:

WARNING: No matter how good the numbers look at any given point in time, the Democrats won’t win elections unless they work hard to earn them – registering voters, calling, texting, donating – during the summer and fall up to and including election day .

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