To all you Donald Trump backers: I hope you got your bets in this Summer as I told you!
Because it didn’t take long for Joe Biden’s lead in the polls and at the political betting sites to dwindle. This is what happens when a party runs a weak candidate who generates zero enthusiasm and then tries to make the entire election about their opponent’s negatives.
Trump only needed a good week from the stock market, the natural decline of coronavirus infections and hospitalizations, and a convention to tighten things up.
No lead is safe when you’re confined to a basement!
Most analytical models still favor Joe Biden, but the campaign can’t be thrilled with the way things are trending.
Will the Democrats get out in front of voters and make a better case for their ticket? Or are they content sitting back and offering nothing more than not being Trump?
Now that both parties have concluded their national conventions, the next thing on the political calendar is the first debate on September 29. Barring any scandals or negative turns in the ongoing national crises, the following betting lines should hold relatively steady for the next month or so.
I’m predicting Donald Trump becomes a slight favorite soon, but the election stays within “coin toss” range.
The National Conventions
The past two weeks have featured both parties’ virtual national conventions, giving each a four-day primetime sales pitch to voters about the public should support their candidate. The Democrats went first, allowing the GOP to see what worked and what didn’t under the new format, and adjust accordingly.
Neither convention likely did much to win over new supporters. Analysts are reporting nobody will receive the traditional “post-convention bump” in the polls – a phenomenon that’s been on the decline for years, even before the pandemic made them virtual events.
Losing Progressives / Sanders Supporters
However, the Democratic National Convention appears to have cost Joe Biden some voters. The party’s left-wing, which supported Bernie Sanders and loudly demands progressive policies like Medicare for All and a Green New Deal, has expressed widespread disgust by the DNC’s priorities over their four-day presentation.
While only two progressive politicians spoke, Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – who only got 90 seconds of screen time, and only because Bernie chose her to second his nomination – the DNC featured numerous Republican speakers.
It’s been said that both conventions were planned with winning over conservatives in mind.
We see widespread disenfranchisement among the left’s most enthusiastic base. Young people of all races and those fighting for real, tangible, and material change struggle to discern the difference between voting for Biden or Trump.
Democrats are making an enormous mistake because the moderate Republicans Biden is courting are an insignificant voting bloc that’s absurdly overrepresented in the media.
If they were of any real electoral consequence, Trump wouldn’t have steamrolled them all in the 2016 primaries.
Progressives aren’t responding to the “vote blue, no matter who” messaging. All the Democratic Party needed to do was use the convention to show them they’re included under the big tent. Instead, they spent a week promising Republicans they wouldn’t slip too far left.
RNC, Fear, and the “Everyman”
Then the Republican National Convention started, and the GOP spent the entire week calling Joe Biden and the Democrats “far-left socialists” anyway! And while the DNC used all of their time focused on Donald Trump and the existential crisis he represents, the Republicans featured a litany of presenters from all walks of life in an apparent effort to attract working-class and minority voters.
Yes, they went hard on the “law and order” messaging — promising that Democrats would allow the country to burn – and there was plenty of kookiness mixed in there too, but it wasn’t four days of “Biden is bad,” which I think plays to their advantage.
Now, to be clear:
The progressive wing of the party might not be lost for good. They may be still reeling from the DNC snub, and once they’re in the voting booth, they will cast a ballot for “the lesser evil” after all.
However, you may want to keep an eye on the Movement for a People’s Party – a progressive populist party in its infancy, holding a convention of its own on August 30. If enough left-wingers connect with the mission of “breaking the duopoly,” the Democrats could see similar numbers of Sanders supporters staying home or voting third-party as in 2016.
Earlier this week, I wrote about Joe Biden’s shrinking lead in the polls. The Democratic candidate is still looking strong nationally, but several swing states are now within the margin of error – meaning they could go either way.
In critical battlegrounds, Biden has less of a lead at this point in the race than Hillary Clinton had on the exact same date four years ago. Here’s the table I shared in the previous article:
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|
To be fair, four years ago, Clinton’s RCP averages were taken just after the Democratic National Convention. They probably include a small post-convention bump. For much of the race, she was within the polls’ margin of error and vulnerable in the Rust Belt states that ultimately cost her the election.
The Democratic Party seems to be making lots of the same mistakes as in 2016. Their message and policies are still primarily tailored to coastal elites. It shows in their obsession with Donald Trump; much of their gripe is with his rudeness and lack of decorum. Those things drive media pundits, pols, and academics crazy, but that’s not who decides the election.
Trump’s strength lies with working-class voters. Most non-college graduates and low-income people on the left are desperate for material change and support Bernie Sanders. They don’t share in the media’s enthusiasm over the President’s “outrage of the day.”
Sure, Donald Trump doesn’t offer working-class voters anything either, but he pays attention to them. His campaign doesn’t display the same disdain for “the uneducated masses” as the establishment elite and professional-managerial class. He makes up for his lack of economic relief by appealing to them on social and cultural issues. For a clear contrast between the parties’ approach to the working-class, watch the two national conventions.
Economic and Pandemic Improvements
Trump’s recent boost in swing states is probably related to modest improvements in two of his most significant trouble areas: the pandemic and the economy.
This week, the stock markets surged, with the S&P 500 and Nasdaq closing at all-time highs on Tuesday. New home sales exploded for the month of July and reached its highest pace of growth since 2006. Of course, these figures aren’t indicative of most people’s experience with the economy currently.
Judging Trump’s reelection odds based on the economy will be extremely volatile. Remember, Congress still hasn’t come to terms on another stimulus bill, with over 28 million Americans facing eviction. And while unemployment may be going down, good jobs are being lost permanently.
This economy is still sitting on a cracked foundation that’s destined to collapse without serious intervention. A wave of evictions numbering in the millions could sink Trump’s economy as quickly as it seemed to recover after covid.
Meanwhile, the President’s core base of support is faring better than most during the lockdowns. Builders, plumbers, and other forms of manual labor – especially in rural areas – are doing quite well.
It’s the service, hospitality, and retail workers who are suffering the most. And while covid has been a winning issue for Democrats since March, the blame for people’s current problems is beginning to shift.
Coronavirus Less of a Concern
Initially, Trump’s failure to adequately respond to the pandemic was the top issue plaguing his reelection effort. He still hasn’t recovered his support among older voters – both the most vulnerable to the virus and the population that watches the most cable news.
Now, with infections and hospitalizations steadily declining, public sentiment is changing. Democrats are also getting accused of taking advantage of the virus for the sake of politics.
States with Democrats in leadership have been the strictest with lockdowns and are the least willing to end or reduce them — but have no issue with large crowded gatherings for protests. Yet, at the same time, they haven’t seen better results than red states with much more relaxed coronavirus responses. In fact, the worst death tolls are in Democrat-run states!
In Biden’s first joint interview with his running mate, Kamala Harris, he talked about how his administration would fight the pandemic.
“I would be prepared to do whatever it takes to save lives because we cannot get the country moving until we control the virus. That is the fundamental flaw of this administration’s thinking to begin with,” Biden told ABC.
When the interviewer asked if the Democratic challenger would be willing to shut the economy down again, Biden said, “I would shut it down. I would listen to the scientists.”
Republicans were given a massive gift with that answer!
“I have to stop everything and start writing ads against Democrats with ‘I would shut it down,’” said GOP media consultant Brad Todd, after the former Vice President’s interview aired. “This is the biggest break of the year for Republicans in this campaign year.”
People are ready to return to work. They want their children back in school. By this point, the population knows that the virus is primarily only deadly to the most vulnerable populations among us. Measures can be taken to keep high-risk people safe while allowing the economy to resume.
Swing State Protests/Riots
Donald Trump’s odds of winning the election are also improving thanks to widespread civil unrest in several major cities. Like covid, the President’s initial reaction to the protests that erupted after George Floyd’s death negatively impacted his poll numbers.
From flirting with sending in the military to stop demonstrations to tear-gassing peaceful protesters outside of a church for a photo-op, Donald was failing dramatically in the court of public opinion. The videos of unmarked cars with what appeared to be soldiers snatching people off the street that came out a couple of months later didn’t help.
But then the demonstrators pushed further, began destroying monuments and statues, and the national conversation around race grew more combative. An “autonomous zone” took over parts of downtown Seattle, until their homegrown security killed two Black teens – not much different from the police they complained about.
Demonstrations in Portland and Seattle persist to this day. Crime rates have skyrocketed in Democratic cities. New York and Chicago are seeing record-high shootings and violent crime. Minneapolis is in the same boat. But it’s the recent explosion of riots in Wisconsin that present the most potential to change the election.
Small businesses are being burned to the ground every night. This week, armed militia showed up to “protect people’s property,” and three people were shot – two fatally. The sense of chaos and lawlessness is playing right into Trump’s “law and order” reaction back in May.
According to FiveThirtyEight, the popularity gained by the Black Lives Matter movement after the George Floyd killing is now gone.
Excerpt from FiveThirtyEight
“But between that time and the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Sunday (we have barely any new polling since Blake’s shooting), Black Lives Matter’s surge in popularity ended: About 49 percent of registered voters said they supported the movement, compared with around 38 percent in opposition — similar to BLM’s net approval before Floyd’s death.1 That drop in popularity has largely been driven by increased opposition among white Republicans (80 percent of whom oppose the movement, higher than before Floyd’s death) and white independents (who now support BLM at similar levels as before Floyd’s death).”
Republicans are capitalizing on the backlash towards Black Lives Matter. In Mike Pence’s RNC speech, he promised viewers:
“The hard truth is you won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America.”
Betting Odds May Not Be Tight for Long
If you’re planning to bet on Donald Trump winning the 2020 election, you should do it soon. The current poll numbers don’t reflect sentiments since the riots in Kenosha, WI have kicked off. They also don’t show the images of Rand Paul being harassed by an angry mob on his way home from the President’s convention speech.
— Brendan Gutenschwager (@BGOnTheScene) August 28, 2020
Or the woman being surrounded and assaulted for not raising a “black power” fist as she sits outside a Washington DC diner.
1) In a scene that played out several times Monday, a Black Lives Matter protest that began in Columbia Heights confronted White diners outside D.C. restaurants, chanting “White silence is violence!” and demanding White diners show their solidarity. #DCProtests pic.twitter.com/fJbPM76vb0
— Fredrick Kunkle WaPo (@KunkleFredrick) August 25, 2020
I truly believe most of America’s voters wish for equality and an end to racism. But the mobs of people representing liberals in the sphere of public opinion are hurting their cause.
While Biden and Harris have both rejected defunding the police and rioting and looting, Democratic leaders were still the loudest when the protests first started, defending the demonstrators against their local police officers.
MSNBC and CNN’s attempts to spin the narrative the narrative isn’t helping.
You cannot make this up… A CNN reporter is standing in front of a building engulfed in flames and CNN’s chyron reads:
“FIERY BUT MOSTLY PEACEFUL PROTESTS AFTER POLICE SHOOTING” pic.twitter.com/4OHvKnh63u
— Kelb Hull (@CalebJHull) August 27, 2020
All in all, the Democrats are letting this election slip away. If they want to hold onto Biden’s narrow margin, something must change. He needs to make an overture to the left. Playing to the centrists and relying on anti-Trump sentiment isn’t going to cut it.
Both of the Biden campaign’s strongest issues – the pandemic and BLM demonstrations – are turning against him. Otherwise, his only hope is another, deadlier, wave of the virus or total economic devastation.
And who wants to root for either of those things?
Right now, Donald Trump bets are getting even money; I advise you to snatch those lines up while you can. Joe Biden may still be winning on paper, but all of the trends point to a repeat of 2016.