Words by Sebastian Andrew
I’ll be blunt. I think barring a massive upset, Joe Biden will win the upcoming United States Presidential Election. Despite the same being said about the Democrats in 2016, Biden has led in every nationwide poll since his campaign started and swing-state polls have consistently showed not only large leads, but him receiving over or close to 50% of the vote. This is a big difference from when Clinton’s nationwide and swing-state leads were in single-digits. This, as well as public opinion regarding Trump’s handling of COVID-19 and racial tensions, and crucial suburban areas zooming towards Democrats in the 2018 midterms, inform this prediction.
I expect Biden to win 335 electoral votes to Trumps 203. Of the crucial ‘toss-up’ states, Biden wins Arizona, Florida, Maine’s 2 nd District, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska’s 2nd District, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Trump wins Georgia, Iowa, Ohio, and Texas.
Of these states, three are worth analysing for different reasons. Pennsylvania is likely to be the tipping point state, Florida, the first swing-state to provide results, and Texas, a glaring example of the leftward suburban shift.
Pennsylvania — the tipping point
While Wisconsin was once considered of all the ‘blue wall’ states most likely to remain with Trump, polls from Pennsylvania show a race tightening to single digits. Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes are crucial to Biden’s victory and are most likely to get over the necessary 270 electoral votes. Despite this close margin, Biden still hovers just below 50%, meaning he requires a much smaller share of the undecided vote compared to Trump. While Trump is expected to maintain strong rural support in central Pennsylvania, Biden is expected to stunt bleeding in western and north-Eastern Pennsylvania, while improving on Clinton’s margins in Philadelphia suburbs.
Florida — the harbinger
Since Florida begins counting absentee ballots a month before Election day and is one of the first states to report results, the votes from Florida will likely indicate where the race is headed. If Biden lags with Latino voters, this could indicate closer results in Texas or Arizona (even though Latino voters behave differently across these states). Conversely, high African American turnout and strong numbers with white voters aged 65+ would indicate that Trump is having trouble across the rest of the country. Although Trump has
made inroads with conservative Cuban voters in Southern Miami, a combination of undecided Latino voters likely ‘coming home’, Biden’s moderate image, his improvements over prior Democratic nominees with senior whites (an important demographic in Florida) and shifts to Democrats in suburban Tampa, Orlando and Jacksonville, make me confident that Biden will still win this state.
Texas — the warning sign
Nowhere else was the leftward shift of the suburban vote more noticeable, sudden, and consequential than Texas. Just four years ago, Texas and the suburbs surrounding its major cities were virtually unshakable for the Republicans. Flashforward to 2020 where not only is the presidential race in Texas a dead heat, but a slew of previously unwinnable, staunch Republican suburban districts are now ripe for the picking. Republican dominance of Texas has relied on support from both rural areas and wealthy, primarily white suburbs. However, as is the case across the rest of the country, a
combination of factors including population growth, favorable shifts to Democrats in racial and education demographics, and the alienation of moderate voters have caused these once solidly Republican suburbs to break for Democrats at a breakneck pace. This should worry Republicans, but they sure aren’t acting like it. While Democrats run candidates and campaigns that embrace growing racial diversity and appeal to disaffected moderate voters, Republicans continue to double-down on populist and conservative
rhetoric to appeal to the same ‘base’ of supporters they relied on in 2016. Texas will prove to Republicans better than no other state’s electoral count that alienating educated, affluent, or minority voters at the expense of rural or non-college educated whites is not an election-winning strategy. To put it bluntly, if Republican support continues to fall in the suburbs, they lose Texas. If they lose Texas, electoral college math becomes practically impossible. Although I must give a narrow edge to Trump, I really do believe that Texas is, in practice, a pure coin-toss.
To summarise, consistent leads in crucial swing-states, favourable demographic shifts and public backlash against the Trump administration, lead me to expect a comfortable Biden victory — regardless of whether it is called on election night, or much later when all the votes are counted.