Donald Trump and Capitol Building

Key Points:

  • Since early August, Joe Biden’s lead in the polls has been narrowing, especially in critical battleground states.
  • Clinton was polling better against Donald Trump on this date in 2016 than Biden is now. And as we all are aware, Hillary went on to lose the election.
  • The Democratic ticket appears to be losing support on the party’s left-wing, which is disappointed by the lack of progressive policies being offered.
  • Trump is also presumed to be helped by covid cases going down, and the stock market performing well.

Democrats were given some alarming news this week. After three months of leading the incumbent in the polls by nearly double-digit margins, Joe Biden’s margins are narrowing. The Democratic challenger still has a comfortable advantage nationally, but Trump is tightening things up in crucial battleground states.

Tweet from Jonathan Lemire (@JonLemire):

In this poll, Trump closes gap in battleground states:

Arizona: Biden 49%, Trump 47%

Florida: Biden 49%, Trump 46%

Michigan: Biden 50%, Trump 44%

North Carolina: Biden 48%, Trump 47%

Pennsylvania: Biden 49%, Trump 46%

Wisconsin: Biden 49%, Trump 44%

Although, it’s not the numbers alone that are alarming for Democrats, it’s the way they’re trending. For example, a recent CNN nationwide poll found that the former Vice President’s lead over the President shrunk by 10 points over the past two months!

Furthermore, comparing Biden’s latest polling in swing states to the same date precisely four years ago shows Joe performing worse than Hillary Clinton in all of them but Florida.

If Trump managed to overcome the former Secretary of State’s lead, who can say he won’t do it again? Especially if the incumbent is gaining ground on his opponent at such a rapid pace.

Real Clear Politics Polling Averages (4 Years Apart):

State August 24, 2016 August 24, 2020
WI Clinton +11.5 Biden +6.5
PA Clinton +9.2 Biden +5.7
NC Clinton +3.6 Trump +0.6
FL Clinton +3.6 Biden +5
MI Clinton +8 Biden +6.7
OH Clinton +4.8 Biden +2.3

While most political analysts and predictive models still have Joe Biden winning this Fall’s presidential election by a comfortable margin, these recent developments show how swiftly momentum can shift in such tumultuous times.

Positive Signs for Trump

No single factor is believed to be responsible for the tightening of the race. However, pundits estimate it’s strongly correlated with fears over the coronavirus declining and the stock market surging.

Other theories suggest Trump’s improved polling is related to variables such as:

  • Democrats politicizing the virus and overplaying their hands by extending pandemic lockdowns,
  • Biden being pulled left on social justice issues like the Black Lives Matter movement, and
  • the President may be outperforming expectations with minority voters.

Stock Markets Close at All-Time Highs

Despite the widespread economic fallout from long-term business shutdowns, the stock market is soaring. Yahoo Finance reported:

“Both the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq closed at all-time highs on Tuesday. While the broader index marked its 17th record close in 2020, the tech-laden Nasdaq log its 38th record finish of this year.”

Along with the stock market highs, the US also saw a surge in new home sales for the month of July:

“On Tuesday, the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development jointly reported that sales of new single-family houses in July grew at a rate of 901,000, beating the consensus estimate of 785,000. June’s figure was also revised to 791,000, which puts July’s new home sales figure 13.9% higher.”

“In fact, the pace of new home sales was the highest since 2006 and is up 36.3% from a year ago. The report underlines the fact that the housing sector is leading the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.”

The sectors of the economy still functioning may also have something to do with Trump’s improved forecasts. After losing support among older and suburban voters, the President must increase the white working-class turnout.

The Trump campaign counts on a significant number of this demographic – particularly those in rural areas – who didn’t vote in 2016 to show up at the polls in November.

While lockdowns decimate office and service industry jobs, blue-collar workers in construction, plumbing, and other forms of manual labor are thriving.

Covid Concerns Fall

At the same time that the US economy is rebounding (on paper; not for average Americans), fear over the coronavirus is on the decline. The pandemic is the number one issue impacting voters’ decisions this election cycle, so any improvement on this front is a major coup for the President.

“In Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, 66% of likely voters said they have serious concerns about Covid-19, the survey released Wednesday found. The share fell from 69% in a poll taken two weeks earlier. The share of respondents who said they have “very serious” concerns about the coronavirus dropped to 45% from 49%.”

While the poll shows only modest improvements, it’s another case of Trump’s numbers trending in the right direction for his reelection hopes – and in crucial locations. He saw similar bumps to his job approval rating in the same six battlegrounds.

“At the same time, 48% of voters in the states said they approve of the job Trump is doing, while 52% disapprove. Two weeks ago, 46% of respondents said they approved of the job Trump is doing, versus 54% who disapproved.”

The closer we get to November, the more Donald Trump will benefit from factors related to the pandemic (if things continue on the current path). Voters’ opinions about the virus are starting to change, despite Democrats and the media doing their best to generate fear.

They’ve been feeding the public “number of infected” stats that include asymptomatic carriers and false positives to inflate numbers. Meanwhile, hospitalizations and deaths from the virus have steadily declined.

Breaking with New CDC Guidelines

Democratic leaders exposed their true intentions this week when the CDC released new guidelines suggesting asymptomatic people need not get tested, even if they’ve encountered someone who’s tested positive. Vulnerable populations are still encouraged to be tested.

Side Note:

This is more on par with the rest of the world’s approach to pandemic protocols. We now know it’s nearly impossible for asymptomatic carriers to spread the virus. That’s why countries like China don’t count the asymptomatic in their “total infected” data.

The US, on the other hand, includes every positive test possible in their numbers, in what looks to be an effort to make the country’s response to the outbreak appear as terrible as possible.

Gov. Newsom in California said his state would not comply with the new CDC guidelines. “I don’t agree with the new CDC guidance, period, full stop,” Newsom said Wednesday. “It’s not the policy in the state of California. We will not be influenced by that change. We’re influenced by those who are experts in the field, who feel very differently.”

Remember, earlier in the pandemic, his office – and several other Democratic governors — were all about “trusting the science;” when the science said what they wanted.

Newsome plans to continue California’s lockdowns indefinitely. Democratic leaders in Michigan, Nevada, and New York are taking a similar approach.

This could spell disaster for the party in November.

Americans are growing tired of the lockdowns and less scared of its ramifications. If the infection rates circulated by the media continue to be divorced from hospitalizations and deaths, the political nature behind some of these restrictive decisions will backfire.

Politicizing the Pandemic

The closer we get to Election Day, the easier it will be for Trump to make the argument that Democrats sandbagged the pandemic response to harm his reelection odds – assuming trends continue along this path. Whether it’s true or not, shutting down schools and the economy for this long – whatever happened to “flattening the curve?” — and choosing to go against CDC recommendations when it suits them is bad optics.

Joe Biden and the DNC don’t want to be the “lockdown party” when November rolls around.

Voters may say and do the right things for the “greater good” for a while, but eventually, their boredom and self–interests will win out despite the potential health risks.

People who have lost their jobs, have kids home from school, or merely miss college football may not speak out publicly, but in the privacy of the voting booth, they will vote to restart society, regardless of any guilt trips about saving others.

Biden-Harris Stuck Between Progressive Left and Moderate Right

While Donald Trump is gradually improving his poll numbers and working to increase turnout among his core base, the Biden-Harris ticket is walking a tightrope, trying to balance the demands of the moderate Republicans they’ve courted all election cycle and the frustrations of progressives who feel left out of the tent.

At every turn, the Biden campaign is under attack for leaning too far in one direction or the other.

The party’s left-wing – consisting of former Bernie Sanders supporters – is outraged by the ticket’s lack of progressive policies. They know they’re not getting universal healthcare, a Green New Deal, or any other sweeping reforms.

Establishment Democrats ignore all of their demands, dedicate far more time at the Democratic National Convention to Republicans than leftists, then tell progressive voters their spoiled babies for wanting more. It’s become an increasingly abusive relationship.

At the same time, the Trump campaign is bashing the Democrats for “far left Marxists,” — to which the progressives say, “I wish!”

Republicans seem to associate social issues with left-wing ideologies, while Sanders supporters focus on economic ideologies.

Trump and his supporters tag the Biden ticket with these labels due to the social justice movement and identity politics. They’re making the case to their voters that Democrats want to defund the police and support rioting and looting.

Trump points to the ongoing demonstrations and elevated violent crime rates in liberal cities like Portland, Seattle, Chicago, Minneapolis, and New York as examples of Democratic governance.

It puts the Biden campaign in an impossible position.

The former Vice President and Kamala Harris are anything but in-favor of defunding police and rioting in the streets. Their resumes likely make them the most “tough on crime” Democratic ticket in modern history.

But with each new scene of rioting or violence to hit the internet, they’re stuck either denouncing the Black Lives Matter movement or letting Republicans control the narrative. And when they speak out against the destruction, it hurts their standing with progressives and some minority voters who think condemning property damage should come after overhauling policing.

Trump Courting Sanders’s “Outsiders”

While Biden and Harris try to keep the focus on Trump as an existential threat, without chasing off a vital coalition of voters, the President is dipping back into his 2016 playbook.

Most of Bernie Sanders’s supporters from the primary will vote Democrat in November.

However, a small percentage either exclusively cast ballots for candidates offering policies they hold dear – usually, Medicare for All – or have abandoned the DNC altogether after watching their candidate get railroaded in two consecutive election cycles.

Trump is playing into those negative feelings, hoping to attract a percentage of Bernie’s people once again. The group most likely to switch to Republican is the anti-establishment “outsider” voter. They’re usually socially conservative and economically populist. Even if they don’t like Trump, they’ll consider voting for him out of spite for the DNC.

Don’t Call It a Comeback…Yet

Considering everything mentioned in this article, Donald Trump is still trailing Joe Biden by a significant margin. It may be shrinking, and it may be trending towards the incumbent, but the President still needs quite a few situations to break his way to complete the comeback.

There’s no telling how the economy or pandemic will progress from here. Either factor may swing the contest to one of the candidates instantly – depending on what happens.

Trump is also playing a risky game with his electoral strategy. There’s no guarantee that voter turnout of white working-class Americans will increase to the degree he needs to overcome the women and older voters he’s lost.

Regardless, the President is in a much better position today than he was two months ago. Joe Biden may be the favorite, but you can bet he’s beginning to feel Trump nipping at his heels.

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