Sunday, November 1, 2020

Expect Election Day to Be a Repeat of 2016

At least someone's willing to say it. 


Contrary to the prevailing wisdom among the cognoscenti, history and current circumstances suggest President Donald Trump is going to defeat former Vice President Joe Biden — for some of the very same reasons he came from behind in 2016 to shock the Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

It is understandable why conventional wisdom is getting this wrong again. Trump is down in the polls, the nation’s demographics are continuing to change in ways unfavorable to Trump and Republicans, the coronavirus has wrought death and economic destruction throughout the land and Trump’s personality provokes stormy oceans of antipathy — perhaps most crucially among women and suburban voters.

But Biden and his campaign are making mistakes that will ensure little of this matters. And the polls are almost certainly wrong again. The only question is by how much.

The economy is turning around, playing to Trump’s strength. The president has made significant outreach to minorities, and a relative handful of Black voters switching from Democrat to Republican could help him secure states like Georgia, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and North Carolina. Not to mention that Trump — unlike Biden — is actually campaigning for the job.

Think of it. Clinton wandering around the woods near her home in Chappaqua, N.Y., kicking herself for not appearing even once in Wisconsin. Meanwhile Biden is only now belatedly hitting the trail — a little. This is a risky experiment. Every modern presidential candidate has traveled as much as humanly possible — and then traveled some more. Meeting and speaking to voters — responsibly — is key. Biden is exploring the political equivalent of eating consommé with a fork.

Campaigning does not just reach voters. It imparts a sense of vigor, industriousness and sociability that people want in a leader. I don’t think Trump should be drawing so many people to celebrations that feature sardine-packed, mask-less supporters whose health is at risk. But his rallies suggest that better days are ahead — the theme of most winning presidential campaigns.

Thursday, there was a significant indicator that happy days may indeed soon be here again. The Commerce Department released the U.S. gross domestic product number for the third quarter, showing growth rate of around 33 percent. This will feed directly into Trump’s argument that he is best positioned to save the economy.

Trump complains endlessly about mail-in ballots, ignoring that they may help him. Many more Democrats are voting by mail than Republicans. But these ballots are more likely to be rejected because mistakes were made filling them out or they were late — or simply got lost.

And while the Covid-19 numbers are rising, this does not necessarily benefit Biden. Trump has been arguing that it is time to open up the economy and stop worrying so much about the spread of the virus. People have pandemic fatigue, and they are eager to go back to their regular, pre-Covid lives, even if this sometimes means endangering themselves or others.

And not only is Biden staying home, his army of volunteers and canvassers have been cooped up as well, doing outreach on their parents’ Wi-Fi instead of out seeing voters. The Biden campaign only recently emerged from the basement — with the exception of its leader — after Trump’s operatives had already spent months contacting voters on their doorsteps. Refusing to mobilize voters by showing up in their neighborhoods early and often is another likely ill-fated Biden experiment in ignoring modern campaign practice.

You also should not underestimate the vast amount of damage created by Biden’s second debate suggestion that he would eventually eliminate the oil industry. When moderator Kristen Welker asked him whether he would “close down the oil industry,” Biden answered “Yes,” he would transition from it. When Welker then asked why he would do that, he responded, “Because the oil industry pollutes, significantly.”

Although the economy may be on the upswing, the American public is still suffering...