Election 2020 Snapshot

A Blue Wave still looks quite likely.

Election Day is just over two weeks off and millions of Americans have already voted. Here’s how longtime polling aggregator RealClearPolitics has the contest looking at the moment.

The Presidential race is, alas, decided by the Electoral College, not the straight-up popular vote. Joe Biden is leading the latter by double digits. It’s only a bit more interesting in the state-by-state race.

Here’s how it looks counting only states strongly leaning to either Biden or Trump:

That North Carolina—let alone Texas and Georgia—is still up for grabs shows how badly things are going for President Trump. Removing the toss-ups and counting all that lean, though, results in a landslide for Biden:

North Carolina went for Obama in 2008, so it’s not a huge shock. But Georgia has only voted Democrat three times in the modern era—1976, 1980, and 1992—all with a Southerner as the nominee.

In the Senate, there are still seven races where a surprise could happen.

But, removing the toss-ups, we see a bare Democratic takeover:

Note that the only Republican pick-up is Alabama, which Democrats only held because of bizarre circumstances. Meanwhile, Democrats look to pick up five seats, with purple-trending North Carolina perhaps the most surprising.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2020
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Argon says:

    That North Carolina—let alone Texas and Georgia—is still up for grabs shows how badly things are going for President Trump.

    Sure, but it’s still deeply unnerving that any state remains a tossup or going for Trump. I think back to the Reagan/ Mondale race. Then the conditions in the country weren’t nearly as tanked and potentently misgoverned by either party yet Reagan won 49 states. Compared to modern historical precedent, a significant portion of the GOP-leaning electorate have to be completely unswayable by any possible circumstance or behavior of the President.

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  2. Steven L. Taylor says:

    @Argon: Keep in mind: Mondale won 40.6% of the popular vote–not that far off of where Trump is now, and we are currently in a radically more polarized environment. This is just another illustration of the way in which our reliance on geography distorts our understanding of what is really going on.

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  3. Michael Reynolds says:

    I’m nervous about NC, IA and GA, and very dubious of Texas. FL is corrupt and the GOP will do its best to suppress votes or outright cheat. OH we might still get.

    The beauty is that we don’t need NC, IA, GA, TX, FL or OH. In fact we could give up AZ and NV and one of the Maine votes and still win.

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  4. James Joyner says:

    @Argon: I agree with @Steven L. Taylor on the weirdness of geography. Through the 1988 election, California was reliably Republican. It’s just a different world now.

    @Michael Reynolds: Indeed, starting with the RCP basic map at the top, I added in only Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania and that alone put Biden to 272. Frankly, if he doesn’t win those states, he’s going to lose.

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  5. Michael Reynolds says:

    You know what Biden has? Joementum. Yep, I’m dragging that out of the vault.

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  6. @Michael Reynolds: I am super-dubious about Texas. If Biden wins Texas, there will be no doubt about anti-Trump repudiation and it will cause a massive panic in the GOP because their EC advantage is obliterated if they can’t guarantee a TX win.

    I also am dubious about GA, but a loss there will also be a gut-punch to the GOP, and it looks like a real possibility.

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  7. @Michael Reynolds: As well you should.

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  8. Gustopher says:

    @James Joyner:

    I added in only Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania and that alone put Biden to 272. Frankly, if he doesn’t win those states, he’s going to lose.

    It’s a weird enough election (Covid, mail-in ballots, etc) that vote suppression might tip a few states. I *think* were close to a point where there is enough likely buffer with other states and the degree of the lead.

    But you only have to look at the wait times for black voters, and the attack on mail-in ballots to be nervous.

    White privilege can be measured by time spent waiting at the polling place.

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  9. Scott F. says:

    If Biden wins Texas, there will be no doubt about anti-Trump repudiation and it will cause a massive panic in the GOP because their EC advantage is obliterated if they can’t guarantee a TX win.

    Then a Biden win in Texas is what we must ardently hope for. Massive panic in the GOP is a precondition for any meaningful electoral reform.

    I’m off to look for a GOTV in Texas effort to which I can donate some late inning money.

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  10. James Joyner says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: @Scott F.: What’s amazing is how little polling data we have for Texas. RCP gives Trump a 4.4 point average lead. But that’s based on only two recentish polls (Rasmussen, which is notoriously GOP-biased, although typically not late, and UT/Texas Tribune). All the other polls are a month or more old, thus not capturing the first debate and the various Trump meltdowns.

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  11. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Scott F.:
    If you find something post it for me here. I have a few bucks left for political stuff.

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  12. gVOR08 says:

    Sean Illing at VOX does good interviews. His latest is with Jesse Wegman, an NYT editorial board member, who’s written a book, Let the People Pick the President, a history of, and attack on, the Electoral College. He describes the EC as a “slipshod” compromise as the Founders couldn’t get consensus on any other method.

    One of the major concerns was that many of the delegates didn’t want Congress involved in electing the president since they had just created a system built on a separation of powers. Another concern was that citizens would never be able to make an informed decision about national candidates because they just wouldn’t have the information they needed, given the nature of communications technology back then.

    And then of course you had the immovable obstacle of slavery and ensuring that the slave-holding states didn’t unravel the whole process. James Madison himself said during the middle of the convention that “the popular vote is the fittest way to elect a president,” but that the South wouldn’t go for it. And he says this more than once. So it’s clear that the Founders knew the slave states had a ton of leverage.

    Donald Trump. If ever there was a candidate who should have been stopped by what we think the Electoral College was designed to do, it was Donald Trump in 2016. But the reverse happened. So the reality is that the Electoral College has never really worked as a firewall against unfit candidates because it’s a fundamentally partisan institution. The 2016 election ought to put an end to this argument forever.

    Wegman favors the Nat’l Popular Vote Interstate Compact.

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  13. Scott F. says:

    @Michael Reynolds: A friend in Austin highly recommended Powered By People (https://poweredxpeople.org).

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  14. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Scott F.:
    Thanks dude.

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  15. JohnSF says:

    Pennsylvania latest polls are putting it back into “within margin of error” range.
    Bugger.

    OTOH: WI, MI, MN, NV now beyond usual margin of error.

    AZ, FL, NC, GA, IA, TX, and most especially OH are all battlegrounds.

    I’d still be much happier as a Team Biden strategist; they can pick their grounds to concentrate upon but also (given their massive fundraising) force Team Trump to fight defensively in lots of places.
    (And they’ll have access to much more fine-grained polling and opinion analysis)

    Mind you, I would by now have taken up smoking again, increased my drinking, and be considering taking up sniffing glue…

    I’d also have a big poster up: “It’s Pennsylvania, stupid!”

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  16. Arnold Stang says:

    @JohnSF:
    Philadelphia Suburbs here. Big money being spent on television commercials, maybe two/three to one Biden. The Trump ads are focused on “Biden’s going to raise your taxes”.
    Lawn signs are much more Biden. But there’s a rash of lawn sign theft, so it’s hard to say how that reads.

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  17. JohnSF says:

    @Arnold Stang:
    Interesting.
    Be useful (well not really practically useful, seeing as I’m an external observer) to see detailed polling on how Biden/taxes was playing.
    But at this point the campaigns are going to be treating that info like holy relics.

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  18. Electroman says:

    Here in Waukesha County, Wisconsin – one of the reddest counties in the nation (*) – I’m seeing a lot of Biden lawn signs and “Republicans for Biden” signs. I’d say they’re about the same number as the Trump signs. That’s a big difference from 2016, when Clinton signs were quite rare.

    (*) More votes to re-elect GWB per capita than any other county save one – which was in Texas. That was a very long time ago, but remember – this is a “WOW County”.

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  19. JohnSF says:

    @Arnold Stang:

    “…there’s a rash of lawn sign theft…”

    Heh.
    Maybe the underpants gnomes have spotted a new business opportunity?
    🙂

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  20. Arnold Stang says:

    @JohnSF:
    …profit!

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  21. Kylopod says:

    Here’s what 538’s averages are saying. Biden leads nationally at 10.6. He’s also leading in all of the following states, in descending order by amount of lead: MN, WI, MI, PA, NV, FL, AZ, NC, GA, and IA. The tipping-point state is PA where he’s ahead by 6.8, which would put his EV total at 272-4 (depending on the results in ME-02 and NE-02 where there hasn’t been much polling) if he were to lose all the states where he’s ahead by a narrower margin. If he wins all of the above states, his EV total is 355-7. If he wins OH where he’s trailing by 0.2, it goes up to 373-5. If he then wins TX where he’s trailing by 1.3, his EV total would be 411-3 (and in that scenario I’d wager it would almost certainly be 413).

    MN: +9.0
    WI: +7.8
    MI: +7.8
    PA: +6.8
    NV: +6.4
    FL: +4.0
    AZ: +3.8
    NC: +3.2
    GA: +1.3
    IA: +0.2
    OH: -0.2
    TX: -1.3

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  22. JohnSF says:

    @Kylopod:
    That’s interesting.
    538 gives PA latest as Biden +6.8
    270toWin has latest PA Biden +4.8 i.e. within m.o.e.
    Different polls used I assume.

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  23. Kylopod says:

    @JohnSF: 538 seems to be alone in weighting different pollsters according to an assessment of their quality and past accuracy. RCP doesn’t do that, it treats all the polls in its average equally, and I’m not familiar with 270towin’s methodology (I wasn’t previously aware they did averages).

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  24. DrDaveT says:

    @Scott F.:

    A friend in Austin highly recommended Powered By People

    Gets you a thank-you email from Beto O’Rourke, too…

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  25. Teve says:

    Predictit has Biden at $.65 and Trump at $.40. Electoral vote 335 to 203.

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  26. de stijl says:

    Biden has a lot more paths to victory than does Trump.

    (Fully acknowledging that Trump threaded the needle in 2016.)

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  27. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Gustopher: White privilege can be measured by time spent waiting at the polling place.

    This. A thousand times this.

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  28. Michael Cain says:

    @James Joyner:

    I agree with @Steven L. Taylor on the weirdness of geography. Through the 1988 election, California was reliably Republican. It’s just a different world now.

    The two greatly unexplored shifts in American voting patterns in the last 30 years are the swing of the Midwest to the Republicans and the West to the Democrats.

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  29. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Michael Cain:

    The two greatly unexplored shifts in American voting patterns in the last 30 years are the swing of the Midwest to the Republicans and the West to the Democrats.

    The fading midwest and the rising west. Corn and computers. Past and future.

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  30. RaflW says:

    Only in the minds of RCP could Minnesota not be at least light blue. We haven’t voted for a Republican for president in decades. Yes Trump came close, and one should not discount the gradual move towards Republicans in the upper midwest. But 2016 saw a specific re-alignment on the Range over environment and jobs that I don’t think will be repeated — or at least the growing Twin Cities suburban vote for moderate Dems will overcome the low-growth challenge areas up north.
    We elected a full slate of statewide Dems in 2018. Tina Smith was a fill-in and with a better Republican might have been vulnerable, but ultimately wasn’t. RCP is just wishcasting to have us grey.

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  31. de stijl says:

    @RaflW:

    One of the most interesting things about Minnesota politics is the Iron Range.

    The unionism has stuck for generations. In almost every other state white rural and white blue collar voters have gone to R voting. The voting pattern in the arrowhead is anomalous unless you know the history of taconite mining.

    The Range no. North Shore no. Duluth no. What should be R districts in today’s demographics is blue.

    Union now. Union forever.

    There are two counties in Minnesota that are way more D than you would guess by demographics thanks to unionism.

    Plus arguably the best hockey teams per capita.

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