Anything Could Still Happen, but Probabilities are Narrowing to Three Key Variables
Approaching the Home Stretch
We are now in the lower double digits until Election Day. Many thousands of citizens are already voting via absentee ballots. Millions more will vote well before Election Day. Some estimate that more than 50% of the electorate will vote before NOV 3.
Still, 49 days is forever in politics. October surprises are always possible, this time on both sides. As noted below, there are known variables still at play. The number of wild cards are getting crowded out by time and probabilities.
Again, anything is possible. But at this point, we likely can focus on three known variables to tell us what the future holds. Cross your fingers and hold your breath. It promises to be a wild ride.
Variable 1: The Debates
I really don’t expect the debates, Presidential or Vice Presidential, to be game changers. Still, the possibility cannot be ignored. Biden has a history of not doing great in these things, but when he does rise to the occasion, he hits home runs. Trump did terrible in the 2016 debates, in my humble opinion, but a lot of people thought he did fine. Certainly, his supporters thought that was the case.
Trump risks failing tough questions and follow ups from Biden or the moderators. Trump is more likely to flame out here, but Biden has more at risk. Harris has to deal with exceptionally high expectations. I expect she will triumph over Pence, but he will likely not be a push over. I expect she will refer often to his record of being the task leader of the pandemic task force. While she is at it, refer to his similar dismal performance in the AIDS crisis as governor.
Variable 2: The Senate Races
I will never succumb to optimism about a pending election. But it is fair to say that as of this writing, things look promising for Biden and for the House majority. Promising, not assured. Biden is in much better shape in every measurement than Clinton ever was in 2016. This is true generally, in the swing states, and in the electoral college. So, promising. For me, that makes the key variable now the Senate.
If the Democrats do not win the Senate, they can cut in half what they hope to accomplish. This is a prospect unlikely to improve in the midterms. Again, the math looks pretty good for the Senate to be at least possible. In fact, it looks better than anyone dreamed it would be a year or so ago. Thank you, Trump. The Republicans have a lot more Senate seats at play as well, which helps the math.
Bottom line is that the Senate likely comes down to 4-6 seats at play that will determine fate. This includes my own state of NC (first debate between the contenders will be in the can by the time your read this). It would be hard to overstate the importance of these Senate races. Wins are important. Beyond that, the slim prospect of McConnell and Graham being unemployed would be perfect. Both their states deserve better, and so do we.
Variable 3: The Electoral College
IF – repeat, IF- Biden wins the electoral college, the margin will speak volumes. Should he move well beyond 300 in the electoral college, some fundamental shifts down the line will happen. What if, as some of the most extreme scenarios forecast, he approaches 400? That would be better than Obama did in both of his runs. This would foretell a fundamental shift everywhere.
The higher that number, the surer is a Senate flip. Beyond that, the higher numbers would bring in some state legislatures as well. This just in time for the post census redistricting efforts. In this case, hope the Democrats have enough judgment not to do their own gerrymandering, as in the past. Rather, they should pass state constitutional amendments to bury this dragon. My confidence level of this is low nationwide but hope springs eternal.
Anything Else Out There?
Sure. We could discuss a gazillion variables and potential outcomes that are still possible. This posting would then rival War and Peace in length, if not readability. All things, considered, much of the rest is background noise and game of chance material. Keep your eye on these three and you can imagine what America looks like going forward.
Vote. Vote Early. Take a friend with you if you vote in person.
Bill Clontz (with Nicola Tesla)
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