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What Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Death Could Mean For 2020 And The Supreme Court

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away on Friday night — a pivotal moment in the history of the nation’s highest court. Ginsburg’s death is one of the biggest developments yet in 2020, a year that has already included the impeachment of the sitting president, a deadly virus killing nearly 200,000 Americans and an economic collapse. Ginsburg not only reshaped U.S. jurisprudence — in particular, as an advocate for women’s rights — but she became a cultural and political icon too, especially for liberals and progressives.

Indeed, her death, and the fight to fill her seat, may have a number of political implications. Those will become clearer over the next days and weeks, of course, with the election right around the corner, but here’s a first look at what some of those potential implications might be:

1. Republicans have to decide whether they will break from their “no election year confirmations” stance from 2016

Back in 2016, when Senate Republicans blocked the nomination of then-President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell argued that voters should get to choose the president and that president should get to pick the next justice. Then-Justice Antonin Scalia died in February 2016, and Obama nominated Garland that March.

Ginsburg’s death comes even closer to the 2020 election — 46 days away. In all of American history, we have had only two Supreme Court vacancies closer to Election Day than we have now. In both instances, the incumbent president won reelection and nominated a replacement shortly after Election Day. (In terms of the actual confirmation, one was confirmed in December, one in March.) So by historical standards — and, notably, McConnell’s own previous standard — Trump would not nominate anyone unless he won a second term in November, since the election is less than two months away.

Filling a seat this close to the election is unheard of

Supreme Court vacancies in presidential election years, by how many days before the election they occurred and whether a replacement was confirmed before the election

Before election, replacement was…JusticeDate of VacancyDays before ElectionNominatedConfirmedS. MintonOct. 15, 195622R. TaneyOct. 12, 186427R. B. GinsburgSept. 18, 202046R. TrimbleAug. 25, 182867J. McKinleyJuly 19, 1852106C. E. HughesJune 16, 1916144P. V. DanielMay 31, 1860159H. BaldwinApril 21, 1844194M. R. WaiteMarch 23, 1888228A. ScaliaFeb. 13, 2016269A. MooreJan. 26, 1804281J. P. BradleyJan. 22, 1892291O. W. HolmesJan. 12, 1932301J. R. LamarJan. 2, 1916310In the early 19th century, the election was held over the course of multiple days; the number of days before the election is the number of days before voting began.

Source: U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Senate

Back in 2016, Democrats pushed forward Garland’s nomination. Unsurprisingly, the parties have now flipped their positions. McConnell said on Friday night that he intends to allow a floor vote to confirm a Trump nominee, while Democrats are suggesting that the winner of the election should choose the next justice.

This is a huge opportunity for Republicans — to have six GOP-appointed judges on the court at once. It is hard to imagine they will pass it up. It’s not guaranteed that 49 of the other 52 Senate Republicans would push forward and support a Trump nominee, particularly if Trump lost the election, but it seems likely.

2. It’s not clear if a confirmation process could finish before the election.

It would be unusually fast to finish the entire confirmation process in less than 46 days, the time left before the Nov. 3 election. (The average confirmation process since the Harry Truman administration has lasted 50 days.) That doesn’t mean there isn’t enough time for Trump to confirm a new justice, but it would be on the fast side.

Nevertheless, it’s possible that sometime in October, a judge has been nominated and perhaps confirmation hearings are taking place, right on the eve of the election. This creates the possibility that Trump loses the election and perhaps Republicans lose control of the Senate, but the lame duck president and some senators who have lost reelection put a justice on the Supreme Court — a move that will enrage Democrats. Alternatively, Trump could win the election and see a new justice appointed before he even begins his second term.

3. Ginsburg’s death creates new dynamics if there is an election-related dispute before the Court

With a 5-4 GOP majority, Chief Justice John Roberts has been a swing vote, and one who occasionally joins with the Court’s Democratic appointees. Whether the court is 5-3 (with Ginsburg’s seat not filled) or 6-3 (with a Trump nominee seated), Democrats would need two votes from GOP-appointed justices to win a case. So if there is some kind of electoral dispute that gets to the court, that’s bad news for Democrats. It raises the specter of a 4-4 tie in a pivotal election-related case, a potential deadlock that could complicate knowing who won the presidential race.

4. The future of the Court is now an even bigger electoral issue

Both parties already intensely cared about the Supreme Court. But now, there is the potential for a Supreme Court nomination (or discussion of an open seat) in the middle of the election. For Trump, this choice is a big opportunity in two ways. First, the Supreme Court nomination process might distract the media and public’s attention away from his mistakes in handling the COVID-19 outbreak and give him a way to galvanize conservatives who really care about judicial nominations and issues like abortion. Secondly, Trump is struggling in particular with women voters. Trump may pick a woman to replace Ginsburg and make his nominee part of his pitch to women voters.

Biden, too, would likely need to talk about judicial issues more and perhaps describe the kind of person he would put in this seat. (He has already promised to nominate a Black woman in the event of a Supreme Court vacancy if he becomes president.) Also, Democratic vice-presidential nominee Kamala Harris is on the Senate Judiciary Committee, so she would be involved in any kind of confirmation process.

This is also now a big issue in Senate races. GOP incumbents like Sen. Martha McSally of Arizona and Sen. Susan Collins of Maine may be faced with the choice of irritating GOP voters if they oppose a Trump pick or irritating more moderate voters if they back someone who is viewed as too conservative. This is a particularly acute issue for Collins, who is struggling in her reelection campaign in part because she backed Trump Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in 2018.

More broadly, one of the most divisive elections in America history will now likely be even more tense and fraught.

5. Who Trump chooses is a really big deal

Assuming that Trump opts to nominate someone, who he chooses is a really big deal. With the election looming, does he nominate someone more moderate than he otherwise would have? Does he nominate a woman? A woman of color? Someone with a long record of opinions or someone who is more unknown?

6. If there are six GOP-appointed justices on the Supreme Court, law in America could fundamentally move to the right

This is the most important implication, even if it is not the most immediate. If Trump is able to appoint a justice who is similar in ideology to Neil Gorsuch and Kavanagh, his first two picks, it seems likely that abortion and affirmative action could be severely limited in the future, the Affordable Care Act overturned and a host of other conservative rulings issued. That is not guaranteed, but seems quite possible.

Trump and Republicans putting another justice on the bench either pro or post-election, in the case that he Trump loses, is also likely to trigger an aggressive Democratic response that could have long-lasting implications. Democratic activists were already floating the idea of increasing the number of justices on the Supreme Court to make up for the Garland seat, and I would expect so-called court-packing ideas to accelerate if Trump puts another conservative justice on the court before or right after he loses a presidential election.

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How Asian Americans Are Thinking About The 2020 Election

Welcome to Pollapalooza, our weekly polling roundup.

Poll of the week

Asian American voters didn’t always lean Democratic. In 1992, less than a third of Asian Americans voted Democratic. But nowadays, most Asian Americans identify as Democrats, with more than half saying they plan to back Joe Biden and less than a third saying they’d vote for President Trump, according to the latest Asian American Voter Survey released this week.

Asian American voters are hardly a monolith. The different groups that comprise Asian American voters are divided over how much — and whether — they will back Biden for president.1 For instance, Filipino Americans are more evenly divided among supporting Biden and Trump than Japanese Americans. And Indian Americans, who have been reliably Democratic for years, now show some signs of slowly shifting to the right. Finally, Vietnamese Americans lean pretty consistently Republican.

Asian Americans are one of the fastest growing racial or ethnic segments of eligible voters in the United States. and make up 4.7 percent of all eligible voters, but there hasn’t been that much reliable polling on Asian Americans, so this survey provides one of the few snapshots of how Asian American voters feel about the upcoming presidential election.

That said, it’s important that we don’t read too much into one survey. Only about 250 respondents were in each subgroup, putting the margin of error at +/- 6 percentage points for each group. But by looking at how Asian Americans have politically identified since 2012, we can more clearly see some of the trends in this most recent survey. What immediately jumps out is that while Asian Americans are very Democratic-leaning overall, Republicans have been making some headway — particularly among certain groups of national origin — over the last few elections.

Take Vietnamese Americans, who among Asian Americans are the most likely to identify as Republican. Anabelle Vo, a 30-year-old video editor based in Los Angeles who started a podcast called Mỹ Gốc Việt (“Americans from Vietnam”) along with her childhood friend Bee Ngo, told me this is partly because the Vietnam War still looms large in how many older Vietnamese Americans identify politically. Many Vietnamese Americans fled to the U.S. after the war, and Vo said they may support the Republican Party because they view it as more strongly anti-communist than the Democratic Party. Her friend and podcast co-host, Ngo, also pointed out that many Vietnamese Americans who identify as Catholic may be more socially conservative, a factor that could also explain why Filipino Americans, 65 percent of whom are Catholic, are more likely to support Republicans than other groups of Asian Americans.

But it’s unclear how strong some of these trends are, according to Linda Vo, a professor in the Department of Asian American Studies at the University of California, Irvine. For instance, even though many Vietnamese Americans identify as Republicans, there is some evidence that they might be moving away from the party. And much of this comes down to age, which was a possible cleavage among Asian American voters in the Democratic primary. Both Anabelle Vo and Ngo have noticed a distinct generational divide in their own personal experiences, with younger Vietnamese Americans much more likely to identify with the Democratic Party than would their parents or grandparents. This is something that Linda Vo has also noticed in her research. “[T]here is a definite generational divide,” Vo said. “That younger generation tends to be for the Democratic Party and tends to have more progressive politics.” She did say the politics of Vietnamese Americans were changing, but slowly.

On the other hand, Republicans have seen modest gains among Indian Americans, who are the most Democratic-leaning group of Asian Americans. Some of this may have to do with increased mobilization efforts by activist groups like the Republican Hindu Coalition, who capitalized on ideological overlaps between Trump and India’s popular nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2016, leading some Indian Americans to vote Republican. Only 21 percent of Indian Americans identify with, or lean towards, the Republican Party, but that’s still roughly double what it was in 2012.

However, the majority of Asian Americans do identify as Democrats. And that could be in part because there is a lot of overlap between the policy preferences of Asian Americans of every stripe and those espoused by the Democratic Party. For instance, according to the survey, 81 percent of Asian Americans support stricter gun laws, 77 percent support stronger legislation to address climate change, 70 percent support affirmative action in higher education, 63 percent believe the government should do more to give Black Americans equal rights with white Americans, 59 percent support a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, 59 percent support shifting funding away from law enforcement, and 55 percent support expanding access to health insurance to all immigrants regardless of legal status.

“When you break it down to certain issues like health care and things like that, that’s how it gets easier for me to discuss things with older folks,” Anabelle Vo said. Vo describes herself as more progressive than the typical Democratic voter and has attended demonstrations and marches for like-minded causes. And interestingly, there weren’t significant divides on these issues between more conservative Asian American groups, like Vietnamese Americans, and more liberal Asian American groups, like Indian Americans. For instance, Vietnamese Americans were more likely to favor stricter gun control legislation, policies to curb climate change and affirmative action, than Asian Americans as a whole.

If Republicans are looking to persuade Asian Americans, however, there is one potential issue where they may have the upperhand. Ninety percent of Asian Americans said that jobs and the economy are either “extremely” or “very” important. And on that issue, 35 percent said that Republicans are doing a better job, while only 31 percent said Democrats are. The rest said there was no difference, or that they don’t know.

It is hard to imagine that Asian American voters will greatly shift in their support before the election, so the real question is whether they’ll come out to the polls (or mail in their ballot). The survey did find high levels of enthusiasm for voting (82 percent said they were at least as enthusiastic about voting this year as they were in previous elections, with more than half saying they were more enthusiastic), but outreach from political parties has been very low. Only 30 percent of Asian American voters said they have been contacted by the Democratic Party in the past year, and only 24 percent said they have been contacted by the Republican Party.

And if the race ends up being anything like 2016, where Trump won key states like Michigan with razor-thin margins, turnout among this relatively small — but growing — subset of the electorate could matter.

Other polling bites

A Quinnipiac University poll of Maine voters found that Sen. Susan Collins, one of the more moderate Republicans in the upper chamber, is trailing Democratic challenger Sara Gideon by double digits (54 percent to 42 percent) among likely voters. Most of the recent polling in Maine has shown Gideon in the lead as well, although not by as large of a margin. FiveThirtyEight’s new Senate forecast, however, shows a tight race, with Collins having a roughly 50-50 shot at winning reelection. That’s because the forecast also takes into account factors other than polling, such as fundraising, incumbency, a state’s partisan lean and expert ratings. However, the Lite version of the forecast, which is based on polling alone, gives Collins only about a 1 in 4 chance of keeping her seat. Either way, it will be a race to watch closely!Support for the Black Lives Matter movement is down to 55 percent, compared with 67 percent in June, according to a survey conducted in September by the Pew Research Center. And while support for the movement remains high among Black Americans at 87 percent, support among white Americans has dropped from 60 to 45 percent. The drop in support among white Americans came primarily from white Republicans. Support among white Democrats fell from 92 percent to 88 percent, but support among white Republicans dropped by more than half, from 37 percent to 16 percent.According to a YouGov/NBCLX poll, 57 percent of Americans who plan to cast their ballot by mail said they plan to do so a month or more before Election Day, 29 percent two to three weeks before, 5 percent one week or less before and 9 percent on Election Day. Recent polling has shown that about a third of Americans intend to cast their ballot by mail this year, and Democrats appear more likely to do so than Republicans.According to this week’s YouGov/Economist poll, 37 percent of Americans said that we will know who won the presidency this November either on the night of the election or the day after. Thirty-nine percent said that we will know the results either a few days or a week after the election. Ten percent said that we will know a few weeks after the election, 8 percent said a month after the election or later, and 17 percent said they didn’t know.In other news, teens think school sucks … more than usual. Fifty-nine percent of teens said online learning is either “worse” or “much worse” than in-person schooling, according to a SurveyMonkey poll. The silver lining? Twenty-one percent said it is the same, and 19 percent said it is either “better” or “much better.”Bolivians are scheduled to finally head to the polls next month to elect a new president. The elections, originally planned for May, come amid a flurry of protests as the interim President Jeanine Áñez has already postponed the election twice, citing COVID-19-related concerns, and the Council of Foreign Relations reports a deep erosion of trust among Bolivians. A poll by Fundación Jubileo and a host of other Bolivian academic and media institutions found that Luis Arce, a socialist candidate who is loyal to ousted ex-president Evo Morales, is in the lead with 29 percent of the vote, followed by Carlos Mesa, a former president who got 19 percent. A handful of other candidates, including Áñez, each got 10 percent or less. To win outright, a candidate needs either a majority of the vote or more than 40 percent of the vote with at least a 10-point advantage; otherwise, the election proceeds to a second round.

Trump approval

According to FiveThirtyEight’s presidential approval tracker, 43.3 percent of Americans approve of the job Trump is doing as president, while 52.7 percent disapprove (a net approval rating of -9.5 points). At this time last week, 42.7 percent approved and 53.1 percent disapproved (a net approval rating of -10.4 points). One month ago, Trump had an approval rating of 42.0 percent and a disapproval rating of 54.0 percent, for a net approval rating of -12.0 points.

Generic ballot

In our average of polls of the generic congressional ballot, Democrats currently lead by 6.4 percentage points (48.6 percent to 42.2 percent). A week ago, Democrats led Republicans by 6.6 points (48.5 percent to 42.0 percent). At this time last month, voters preferred Democrats by 7.3 points (48.5 percent to 41.2 percent).

2020 Senate Election Forecast

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Find a race

FiveThirtyEight

Democrats are slightly favored to win the Senate

Each party’s seat count in scenarios where it wins the Senate in our Deluxe model’s 40,000 simulations. Higher bars represent more common outcomes. Our presidential forecast determines which party gets control when the Senate is evenly split.

Average outcome: 50.5

53 R seats

54 D

80% ofoutcomes fallin this range

Morelikely

62

60

58

56

54

52

50

52

54

56

58

60

62

64

53 R SEATS

7.0% chance

7.0% chance

Democrats have an 80% chance of holding between 47 and 54 seats.

In 42 in 100 scenarios, Republicans win control

In 58 in 100 scenarios, Democrats win control

When both parties hold 50 seats, control of the Senate is decided by which party holds the vice presidency in our presidential forecast. Counts of Democratic seats include two independent senators who caucus with the Democrats.

Want to see other versions of the forecast? Click the magnifying glass in the lower left!

2020 ELECTION COVERAGE

Why Pennsylvania Could Decide The 2020 Election

By Nathaniel Rakich

More And More Americans Aren’t Religious. Why Are Democrats Ignoring These Voters?

By Daniel Cox and Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux

Forecasting each Senate seat

Icon Legend

Solid R

≥95% R

Likely R

≥75%

Lean R

≥60%

Toss-up

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Election Update: Where Biden And Trump Have Gained The Most Ground

From 30,000 feet, the presidential race looks much as it did when we first launched our presidential election forecast in August. Joe Biden has about a 3 in 4 chance of winning compared to President Trump’s roughly 1 in 4 shot, according to FiveThirtyEight’s forecast. Biden’s chances did dip down to a 2 in 3 shot after the Republican National Convention on Aug. 31, but overall, his chances of winning have hung out in the low- to mid-70 percent range. By contrast, Trump’s chances have mostly bounced around in the mid- to high-20s.

But underneath the topline numbers, there has still been some fairly big movement in a handful of key battleground states, and the news has been mostly good for Biden. If we look at how much Biden’s odds have changed in states where both he and Trump have at least a 1 in 10 shot of winning since we launched the forecast on Aug. 12, Biden has improved his chances in 17 of 20 states. And in some cases, Biden’s improvement has been considerable — +15 percentage points in Minnesota, +12 points in Arizona and +10 points in Wisconsin, for instance. By comparison, Trump’s odds have really only improved in Florida, although he hasn’t lost much ground in states such as Georgia and Ohio, which may signal that Biden’s electoral gains will not be that expansive. (Trump still leads in Texas, for instance, despite Biden’s improvement there.)

Biden’s odds improved in most battleground states

Change in Joe Biden’s chances of winning in states where he or Donald Trump has at least a 10 percent chance of winning, between forecast launch on Aug. 12 and Sept. 16 (as of 9:30 a.m. ET)

Biden’s chance of winningStateAug. 12Sept. 16ChangeMinnesota71.8%86.6%+14.8Arizona55.267.6+12.4Wisconsin69.879.9+10.0Michigan81.286.9+5.7Maine77.382.6+5.3North Carolina49.052.9+3.9Nevada76.780.2+3.5Pennsylvania73.475.8+2.4Texas29.131.4+2.3Iowa31.433.5+2.0Colorado84.986.4+1.5New Hampshire71.673.0+1.3Georgia34.335.4+1.2Montana12.113.0+1.0Alaska19.019.6+0.7Ohio44.845.2+0.4Mississippi12.812.9+0.1South Carolina12.812.8+0.0Missouri12.910.3-2.6Florida64.160.7-3.4

But Biden’s improvement in Arizona is particularly noteworthy as Arizona is a cornerstone of most Electoral College maps in which Trump wins. That is, if Trump carries the state, he wins the election 59 percent of time, according to our forecast; but if Biden wins Arizona, Trump has less than a 7 percent chance of winning overall. And three polls released in the last few days show Biden ahead in the Grand Canyon State, although by varying margins. A CBS News/YouGov poll found him up by 3 points while a Gravis Marketing survey gave him just a 2-point lead over Trump. But an OH Predictive Insights poll gave Biden a much larger 10-point advantage, 52 percent to 42 percent.

Meanwhile, Biden’s improvement in Minnesota is also bad news for Trump, as the campaign has long viewed Minnesota as a potential target to expand the map — the president only lost the state by about 2 points in 2016. However, Minnesota seems to be steadily moving away from Trump. An ABC News/Washington Post survey released today gave Biden a sizable 16-point edge, 57 percent to 41 percent, among likely voters. And two separate polls released this weekend by CBS News/YouGov and the New York Times/Siena College each found Biden ahead by 9 points in Minnesota, 50 percent to 41 percent. Still, a Morning Consult survey released yesterday might buoy the Trump campaign’s hopes of breaking through in Minnesota, as it put Biden’s lead at only 4 points. And Trump is doing better in Wisconsin, although he’s still an underdog there as recent polls suggest Biden has a fairly sizable advantage. A CNN/SSRS survey released yesterday gave Biden a 10-point lead, while an ABC News/Washington Post survey out today gave Biden a 6-point edge. And this past weekend, the New York Times/Siena College found Biden up by 5 points there.

Florida is the only battleground state where Trump’s odds have increased appreciably, but that’s an important silver lining for the president, as winning Florida is make or break for Trump’s chances of winning the election. If Trump wins the Sunshine State, he wins the presidency in 57 percent of our forecast’s simulations, while a Biden win there would give Trump less than a 2 percent shot at victory. And at this point, Florida polls continue to give Trump a decent shot at winning the state, although they haven’t been universally positive. Perhaps most notably, a poll released on Tuesday by Monmouth University found Biden up by 3 to 5 points among likely voters, depending on turnout. However, another poll out yesterday from Florida Atlantic University found the two candidates tied in a dead heat at 50 percent after undecided voters were pushed to pick a candidate, so at this point, Florida remains ultra-competitive with Trump gaining ground there.

Trump’s chances haven’t improved much elsewhere, but it’s worth noting that his standing hasn’t really worsened in a couple of right-leaning battleground states that Democrats have eyed, like Georgia and Ohio, either. That’s important for Trump because not only would losing either state dramatically hurt his chances of winning overall (Trump would have about a 1 percent chance of winning if he lost in either one), but it also signals that this election might not be a blowout where Democrats turn states like Georgia and Texas blue.

Bottom line: The broad electoral picture hasn’t changed much since we launched the forecast in mid-August, but we’ve observed some real changes in a number of key battleground states. The problem for the president is that most of those shifts have been to Biden’s benefit, except for the all-important state of Florida. Trump very much remains in contention, but he is an underdog for reelection at this point.

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Trump Has Lost His Edge In TV Marketing

For months, President Trump’s campaign boasted that its campaign operation was a “juggernaut” and compared it to the powerful Death Star. Nowhere was that more evident to the general public than on the television airwaves. According to data from Kantar/Campaign Media Analysis Group, from early May through July 28, 2020, the Trump campaign and Republican outside groups spent an estimated $80.1 million to air 161,744 ads on local broadcast, national network and national cable TV for the presidential general election. By contrast, Joe Biden’s campaign and Democratic outside groups spent an estimated $44.2 million and aired only 66,875 ads for the presidential general election during that period.

But as you can see in the chart below, the Republican Death Star stopped being fully armed and operational in late July — while Democrats began to step up their game. From July 29 through Sept. 14, Republican forces aired just 107,816 ads at an estimated cost of $71.5 million, while Democratic forces aired 183,341 ads for an estimated $107.1 million.

What happened in July? Trump appointed a new campaign manager, Bill Stepien, who was tasked with fixing the campaign’s cash flow problems and sudden fundraising woes. For most of the year, Trump and the Republican National Committee had comfortably outraised Biden and the Democratic National Committee, but that advantage had evaporated by the end of July. And in August, Bidenworld outraised Trumpworld $365 million to $210 million.

Accordingly, Stepien has reportedly been working to tighten the campaign’s belt — which has included cutting back on TV ads in several key states. For example, from early May through Aug. 24, Republicans outaired Democrats 20,904 ads to 18,548 in Arizona-based media markets.1 But the Trump campaign went dark in the Grand Canyon State on Aug. 25, and after that Democrats outaired Republicans 8,922 ads to 3,226 in the state (all but two of the Republican ads were from outside groups).

It’s a similar story in Pennsylvania: From early May through July 29, Republicans aired 28,438 ads to Democrats’ 17,322. But from July 30 through Sept. 14, Democrats out-advertised Republicans 30,882 spots to 15,702 — in large part because the Trump campaign aired only two ads during those six weeks. That should be especially alarming to Republicans, since the FiveThirtyEight model believes that Pennsylvania is the likeliest state to decide the 2020 election.

The Trump campaign also didn’t air a single commercial in a Michigan-based media market from July 23 through Sept. 7. Although the campaign is now back on the air, Michiganders saw 38,261 pro-Biden ads from early May through Sept. 14 and only 15,866 pro-Trump ads.

Trump is still on the air in other crucial states, such as Florida, North Carolina and Wisconsin — but even in those states, Democrats have been airing more ads than Republicans since late July. Here are the shifts in each major swing state — defined as the states with more than a 1 percent chance of being the Electoral College tipping point, per the FiveThirtyEight model.

Democrats are now airing more swing-state ads

How many ads each party aired for the presidential general election on broadcast TV in the states with the highest chance of deciding the 2020 election, from May 5 to July 28 vs. from July 29 to Sept. 14

May 5 – July 28July 29 – Sept. 14StateTipping PointDem. adsGOP adsDem. adsGOP adsPennsylvania31% chance16,89928,20431,30515,936Florida148,37327,11440,54719,786Wisconsin1013,15017,81724,40017,701Arizona77,71713,16519,75310,965Michigan615,48610,04322,7755,823Minnesota501,8143,6213,345North Carolina44,30319,33921,60316,248Nevada4705,8845,67622Colorado3049301Ohio3939,0373,64829New Hampshire213080Georgia2310,3953312,293Texas2405841652Virginia100160“Tipping-point chance” is the chance that a given state will provide the decisive vote in the Electoral College. Tipping-point chances are as of Sept. 15 at 10 a.m. Eastern.

Source: Kantar/Campaign Media Analysis Group

In sum, these numbers look damning for Trump. And they are indeed another sign that Trump’s campaign may be in trouble, especially considering he is the incumbent and, as such, should have a larger war chest at his disposal. But it’s also important to remember that TV advertising isn’t the be-all and end-all for campaigns. In fact, political scientists disagree about whether TV ads even have a significant effect on elections at all! And the Trump campaign points to the fact that it is outspending Biden in other areas, such as field offices (Trump has opened more than 280, while Biden, due to the coronavirus pandemic, has opened none) and digital advertising (from Aug. 1 through Sept. 5, Trump spent $66.8 million on Facebook and Google ads while Biden spent $46.2 million). And of course, there are still seven weeks left in the campaign — plenty of time for Trump to return to dominance on the airwaves.

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Why Pennsylvania Could Decide The 2020 Election

This is the fourth in a series of articles examining the politics and demographics of 2020’s expected swing states.

Right now, Pennsylvania looks like the single most important state of the 2020 election. According to FiveThirtyEight’s presidential forecast, Pennsylvania is by far the likeliest state to provide either President Trump or Joe Biden with the decisive vote in the Electoral College: It has a 31 percent chance of being the tipping-point state.1 (That’s what happens when you take one of the most evenly divided states in the union and give it 20 electoral votes.) In fact, Pennsylvania is so important that our model gives Trump an 84 percent chance of winning the presidency if he carries the state — and it gives Biden a 96 percent chance of winning if Pennsylvania goes blue.

Few could have guessed that the Keystone State would eventually become the “keystone” of the Electoral College,2 since going into 2016, Pennsylvania had voted for the Democrat in six straight presidential elections. More impressively, Pennsylvania had been more Democratic-leaning than the national popular vote in every presidential election since 1952. But both streaks were snapped in 2016, when Trump carried Pennsylvania by 0.7 percentage points — making it 2.9 points redder than the nation as a whole.

Is Pennsylvania now a Republican-leaning state?

How Pennsylvania has voted relative to the nation as a whole in presidential elections since 1952

PennsylvaniaYearDem.GOPMarginNat’l MarginPenn. Lean195246.9%52.7%R+5.9R+10.5D+4.6195643.356.5R+13.2R+15.9D+2.7196051.148.7D+2.3D+0.2D+2.1196464.934.7D+30.2D+22.4D+7.9196847.644.0D+3.6R+1.1D+4.7197239.159.1R+20.0R+23.0D+3.0197650.447.7D+2.7D+2.1D+0.6198042.549.6R+7.1R+9.4D+2.3198446.053.3R+7.4R+18.0D+10.7198848.450.7R+2.3R+7.6D+5.2199245.136.1D+9.0D+5.8D+3.2199649.240.0D+9.2D+8.5D+0.7200050.646.4D+4.2D+0.5D+3.7200451.048.5D+2.5R+2.4D+4.9200854.744.3D+10.3D+7.3D+3.1201252.146.7D+5.4D+3.9D+1.5201647.948.6R+0.7D+2.2R+2.9Sources: Dave Leip’s Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections, Pennsylvania Department of State, U.S. House of Representatives

Pennsylvania’s eventual defection shouldn’t have surprised us, though. Non-Hispanic white people without bachelor’s degrees make up 55 percent of Pennsylvania’s population age 25 or older, and Trump accelerated their migration to the Republican Party in 2016. According to the Center for American Progress, the turnout rate among these voters increased from 53.0 percent in 2012 to 57.4 percent in 2016 — and they went from voting for Mitt Romney by 20.3 points to voting for Trump by 28.6 points.

Pennsylvania’s run to the right, however, has been a long time in the making. For much of the 20th century, blue-collar, white Pennsylvanians were considered part of the Democratic base. But the share of workers in Pennsylvania belonging to labor unions (which have historically played a huge role advocating and organizing for Democratic candidates) has fallen from 27.5 percent in 1983 to 12.0 percent in 2019, and many have blamed trade and environmental policies pushed by Democrats for the decline of the state’s manufacturing and mining industries.

Campaigns have also been forced to reconsider their conception of Pennsylvania’s political geography. The conventional wisdom was that western and eastern Pennsylvania were Democratic and central Pennsylvania was solidly Republican (memorably summarized by Democratic strategist James Carville’s quote that, between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was just Alabama). While this may have been true (at least politically) in, say, 2000, working-class western and northeastern Pennsylvania have slowly but surely been getting redder. As a result, Pennsylvania’s new geographic divide is between southeastern Pennsylvania and the rest of the state — in other words, the parts of the state that are culturally Northeastern and the parts that are culturally Midwestern or Appalachian.3

Granted, even this is an oversimplified description of Pennsylvania’s political divide. Pittsburgh’s Allegheny County is one of the few counties in the state that is getting bluer (the Midwest has upper-class suburbs too!). And Philadelphia County actually voted more Republican in 2016, despite having the state’s smallest non-college-educated white population (by percentage). This hints at another problem Democrats would like to solve: returning to their former strength among Black voters. (Philadelphia County is 44 percent Black.) According to CAP, Clinton won “only” 89.8 percent of the Black vote in Pennsylvania. That’s obviously very high, but it’s short of the 96.0 percent that Barack Obama received four years earlier — and those margins matter. If Clinton had matched Obama’s share of the Black vote, CAP found, she would have narrowly carried Pennsylvania in 2016 — even with her poor performance among white voters without a bachelor’s degree.4

Apart from winning back non-college-educated white voters or Black voters, some Democrats may see a third way forward in Pennsylvania: running up their margin in the suburbs. The other trend evident from the map above is that Democrats are gaining ground in the affluent, well-educated counties around Philadelphia. Philly’s four “collar counties” — Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery — went from voting for Obama by 10 points in 2012 to voting for Clinton by 14 points. But the problem for Democrats is that those four counties contain only 22 percent of Pennsylvania’s 2016 voters, and they are moving to the left far more slowly than the rest of the state is moving to the right. For example, the 24 counties in western Pennsylvania5 other than Allegheny contain a similar 19 percent of Pennsylvania voters, yet they went from voting for Romney by 18 points to voting for Trump by 32 points.

Of course, Democrats don’t have to choose just one group of voters to appeal to. Biden has been making overtures to suburban voters, Black voters and non-college-educated white voters — and there are signs he’s succeeding on multiple fronts. The last two polls (one Democratic, one Republican) to ask about the presidential race in Pennsylvania’s 1st Congressional District — which is almost coterminous with Bucks County — both gave Biden a 9-point lead in a suburban district Clinton carried by only 2 points. And a February poll by Mercyhurst University showed Biden at 48 percent and Trump at 44 percent in post-industrial Erie County, which Trump won by 2 points in 2016 — although Biden’s lead was still a far cry from the 16 points by which Obama carried Erie in 2012. And, in a stroke of luck for Biden, he may be uniquely positioned to reverse some of Democrats’ most severe 2016 losses: the 24 points shaved off the Democratic margin in Lackawanna and Luzerne counties. These counties are the heart of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre metropolitan area, where Biden was born, grew up and speaks of often on the campaign trail.

All told, Biden currently leads the FiveThirtyEight polling average in Pennsylvania by 4.9 points. Adjusting for demographics and the possibility of change over the next two months, our forecast projects that the Democrat will ultimately carry the Keystone State by 4.6 points. However, both numbers are closer than Biden’s lead nationally, implying that if the overall race tightens, Biden could fall victim to the same trends that made Pennsylvania so inhospitable for Clinton in 2016. In other words, it’s no coincidence that Biden’s 75 in 100 chance of winning Pennsylvania is nearly identical to his chance of winning the election: As goes Pennsylvania, so goes the Electoral College.

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What If Trump Loses And Won’t Leave?

For months now, President Trump has carefully planted the seed that he might not leave the office of the presidency willingly if he loses.

Whether it’s tweeting that the election should be delayed as it “will be the most inaccurate and fraudulent election in history” or that there will be widespread voter fraud because of the expected uptick in mail ballots due to the coronavirus, Trump seems intent on undermining the electoral process.

This, in turn, raises a rather thorny and unprecedented question: What happens if Trump won’t go? The answer is bleak. Experts tell me that the president actually has a lot of power at his discretion to contest the election, and some of the scenarios that could bring us to the edge of a crisis are actually very plausible.

Consider this one: It’s late on Election Day, and hundreds of thousands of votes in key battleground states still have to be counted due to the increased use of mail and absentee voting because of the pandemic. As a result, media outlets have largely avoided calling the race, but based on the votes that have been counted, Trump leads in enough states to reach at least 270 electoral votes, which would be enough to win the election if his election-night lead holds. Trump claims victory, but because Democrats were much more likely to vote by mail than Republicans, Joe Biden eventually pulls ahead because of the Democratic lean of the remaining votes — a phenomenon known as the “blue shift.”

That’s just one of the many scenarios the Transition Integrity Project, a bipartisan collection of over 100 experts, explored this summer while researching how a possible election crisis could unfold.

Rosa Brooks, a professor at Georgetown University Law School who co-founded the Transition Integrity Project, told me she and her colleagues weren’t interested in predicting the likelihood of any one scenario they looked at, but more so in understanding the range of possibilities. Ultimately, they don’t know to what extent this year’s election result will be contested — would Trump deploy federal agents from the Department of Justice to secure vote counting sites or would he just take to Twitter to bemoan the results? — but Brooks told me they do think the election will be contested at least on some level. So the question they’re asking is: How much?

One big takeaway from the Transition Integrity Project’s simulations was just how much power Trump has at his disposal should he choose to contest the election. “You have just a tremendous differential between the president of the United States of America, who has just awesome coercive powers at his disposal, and a challenger who really has no power whatsoever in our system,” said Brooks. “Joe Biden can call a press conference; Donald Trump could call on the 82nd Airborne.”

This, of course, would be a doomsday scenario, and one reason why so much of this is hard to fathom. A cornerstone of American elections has been the peaceful transition of power, but as research from the Transition Integrity Project and others underscores, there are multiple ways to contest an election. And it’s not limited to just Trump either. It’s very possible were Trump to win in the Electoral College, where he has an advantage, but lose the popular vote to Biden, that Democrats would dismiss the election as unfair.

We, of course, do not have to look too far back in our electoral history to know that Americans have survived a disputed election before — see the 2000 presidential race. But experts I talked to were worried, given Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric around the election and his own track record of openly flouting democratic norms, that the country wouldn’t be able to handle another full-throttle election dispute. Take how low the public’s trust in the election already is. Last week, an NBC News/SurveyMonkey poll found that 59 percent of Americans were not too confident or not confident at all that the election would be conducted in a free and equal way, in line with its polling since early August on this question.

It might be hard to remember now, but in the 2000 presidential election, Florida’s GOP-controlled state legislature was on the verge of appointing a new slate of electors to vote for George W. Bush had a court-ordered manual recount imposed by the Florida Supreme Court dragged on. Of course, it ultimately didn’t come to that because the U.S. Supreme Court stepped in and halted Florida’s recount, famously deciding in a 5-4 decision that the state Supreme Court had overstepped its bounds and that a recount could not be held in time to meet the federal deadline for the selection of presidential electors.

Edward Foley of Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law thinks something similar could happen this year if the president and his backers contest the results in the Electoral College.

In Foley’s scenario, Trump leads in the tipping-point state of Pennsylvania on election night, but because of Democratic gains in ballots counted in the following days, Biden pulls ahead by a few thousand votes. What happens next quickly devolves into a partisan dispute. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf signs Pennsylvania’s certificate of ascertainment, confirming Biden’s victory by listing the Democratic electors as the state’s official slate for the Electoral College, while the Republican-controlled Pennsylvania legislature appoints a different set of electors at Trump’s behest as he has claimed there was widespread election fraud.

This, were it to happen, would likely be met immediately with legal challenges in state and federal court, perhaps followed by another intervention by the U.S. Supreme Court. But the significance is that even if a court ruled against the validity of one set of electors, Congress still has the power to consider both sets of electors as long as they have in hand the certificate naming them.

The Electoral Count Act of 1887, which governs the electoral vote counting process, was designed to help Congress decide how to handle such a situation. But it is especially ambiguous on what would happen if the Senate and House disagree on which set of electors should count, which could happen if the GOP retains control of the Senate and Democrats keep the House.

In Foley’s scenario, Vice President Mike Pence — as president of the Senate, he would oversee the count in Congress — follows one interpretation of the law, arguing that neither set of electors should count because they conflict. That removes Pennsylvania’s votes from the total number of electors and gives Trump a majority based on the remaining 518 electoral votes.1 Democrats, however, counter, claiming the certificate bearing the governor’s seal, which supports Biden, is given preference by the law.

Ultimately, though, neither side finds a compromise and we find ourselves in the midst of a full-blown constitutional crisis. In this scenario, the Supreme Court could become involved if, for instance, Democrats seek an injunction to stop Pence from not counting Pennsylvania’s votes. But it’s also possible the court would try to avoid making a ruling on the counting dispute, in keeping with a dissent from Bush v. Gore that argued neither the Constitution nor the Electoral Count Act provided a role for the judiciary in this process.

Under the 20th Amendment, we know someone must take office on Jan. 20 as president, yet the amendment is curiously silent on how to deal with a dispute over whether someone has actually qualified to take office. “The thing that we know for sure is the current term ends,” said Foley, but he added that doesn’t mean it would be straightforward to figure out who should take office next if there’s a disagreement.

In fact, it’s possible that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi could claim that under the Presidential Succession Act, she is next in line to become president and that she would be willing to resign her House seat to serve as president until Biden is ruled the election winner. But if Republicans claimed Trump had won reelection, they very well might object to Pelosi being sworn in. Given a crisis on this scale, it’s hard to unpack what exactly might happen, but it’s very likely things would spiral out of control, and the resulting uncertainty could spark unrest and protests that could very well lead to violence.

Gaming out these different scenarios demonstrates that, should Trump dispute the result, a key factor will be the extent to which leading Republican officials at the federal and state level cooperate with him. Brooks pointed out that while Trump has significant power to contest the results as president, he can ultimately only go so far if supporters don’t follow his lead.

For instance, in one of its simulations, the Transition Integrity Project found that GOP leaders might support some of Trump’s claims of fraud or maneuvers to manipulate the vote count, but that didn’t mean they’d go along with every move he tried. For instance, it found many Republicans might oppose an attempt to federalize and deploy the National Guard. And in Foley’s scenario, much hinged on what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republicans — including Pence — chose to do when it came to deciding which Pennsylvania electors should count.

The relative closeness of the election is a factor here, too. In a different simulation the Transition Integrity Project looked at that put Biden in a stronger position on election night, Trump attracted less support from Republican leaders and Biden’s campaign was able to get some degree of bipartisan cooperation so that the country didn’t slide into a full-blown electoral crisis. Still, throughout its different scenarios, the project found it likely that the Trump campaign would try to raise enough doubts about the vote so as to undermine what might even seem like a clear result. Considering Trump claimed millions of people illegally voted when he won in 2016, it doesn’t take much to imagine he’d do the same this year if he thought it would improve his chances of winning a contested election. That’s one reason researchers at the Transition Integrity Project rank Trump’s allegations of voter fraud among the most dangerous threats currently facing the election.

Of course, considering how high the existential stakes seem to be in this election, it’s not out of the question that Biden might be the one who disputes the result. Tellingly, in another simulation the Transition Integrity Project played out, a crisis unfolded after Trump won in the Electoral College but lost the national popular vote by 5 points. Trump claimed it was fraud that explained Biden’s popular vote edge, but Biden retracted an election night concession and pushed Democratic governors in Michigan and Wisconsin to send appointed slates of electors to Congress, in conflict with the elected ones backing Trump. In his work, Foley also explored an alternate scenario in which Arizona was the tipping-point state and Republican Gov. Doug Ducey refused to certify the results to give Biden the state’s electors. During Congress’s counting, congressional Democrats argued that Arizona’s electors should be disqualified to give Biden the victory — the same argument Pence made in the Pennsylvania scenario to claim Trump had won.

The scenarios laid out by the Transition Integrity Project and Foley shouldn’t be taken as definite outcomes, but they do make clear that the rickety apparatus governing our electoral process could collapse if key actors decide to push against it.

Worryingly, the public may be especially vulnerable to attempts to delegitimize the election, too. Faith in the Electoral College is already shaky because of the possibility of a popular vote-electoral vote split like in 2000 and 2016, and worse yet, support for the Electoral College is increasingly polarized by party. A conflict over which electors should count would only exacerbate those concerns. And because many Americans still expect to know who won on election night, this could create a situation where much of the public isn’t ready for — or is ready to reject — sizable shifts in the vote after Election Day, which could make it easier to cast doubt on the outcome.

But even if the worst scenarios don’t come to pass, the fact that we lack a neutral electoral arbiter is surely a ticking time bomb for our democracy. Such an institution may sound difficult to create, but many individual states have used judicial panels to successfully sort through close elections, and other democratic nations have far better laws to adjudicate contested elections. For now, though, in the absence of such measures, the peaceful transfer of power hinges on the expectation that that is how American elections work, but that may be increasingly hanging in the balance, as anyone living in this incredibly polarized era of U.S. politics will tell you.

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Kamala Harris Still Supports Group Bailing Out Violent Crook Charged With Felonies

While Democratic Nominee Joe Biden has finally begun to condemn the rioting and violence seen from the radical left in recent months, his Vice Presidential choice, Kamala Harris, seems to not have been briefed on the campaign position pivot.

Harris publicly asked her followers to donate to the Minnesota Freedom Fund in a June 1 tweet—an organization that has raised tens of millions of dollars to bail out violent offenders charged with felonies.

If you’re able to, chip in now to the @MNFreedomFund to help post bail for those protesting on the ground in Minnesota. https://t.co/t8LXowKIbw

— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) June 1, 2020

As reported by the Daily Caller, Harris made the plea months ago, but her personalized link is still active and able to take donations. The page—seen below—features a smiling Harris and her old campaign logo.

The smiling Harris fundraiser has bailed out dangerous criminals including Jaleel Stallings, who as reported by the Daily Caller and according to Fox9, is facing charges for attempted murder for shooting at SWAT officers during May riots.

While his VP rallies behind violent offenders, Biden has taken a newly crafted position—likely because the far majority of Americans don’t support murder, arson, and looting. On August 31, Biden managed to choke up a condemnation of the radical left.

“I want to be very clear about all of this: Rioting is not protesting. Looting is not protesting. Setting fires is not protesting. None of this is protesting. It’s lawlessness, plain and simple. And those who do it should be prosecuted,” Biden said. “Violence will not bring change, it will only bring destruction. It’s wrong in every way.”

Despite ending his statement with blaming President Trump for the violence, Biden did finally condemn the radical left’s terror.

Harris appears to need a briefing from the decision-makers in the campaign.

Other criminals bailed out by the Harris-supported MFF, which has raised over $35 million in donations after Floyd’s death according to Fox9, include Christopher Boswell, a convicted rapist, and Darnika Floyd, who is charged with stabbing a friend to death.

Read about those released by the Harris-backed MFF here.

Harris isn’t alone in her concerning support, several members of the Biden campaign have publically showed their support for the MFF, as reported by SaraACarter.com in August.

A thread on Twitter shows a chain of present and former Biden staffers, as well as Democratic organizers across the nation, touting their donation receipt to the fund bailing out alleged murderers and sexual assaulters.

While massive criminal justice and immigration reform is needed immediately we have to do what we can now.
Let’s continue to support @MNFreedomFund. #GeorgeFloyd
Who’s Next? https://t.co/NAH7OiapBA pic.twitter.com/JJn5buRYsZ

— Patrick “Text FLORIDA to 30330” McCarthy 🥁 (@pmccarthyFL) May 29, 2020

Reuters found that at least 13 members of the Biden campaign publicly showed financial support for the MFF.

With his new approach to the unrest and violence, whether Biden will speak to his VP about the change has yet to be seen.

The post Kamala Harris Still Supports Group Bailing Out Violent Criminals Charged With Felonies appeared first on Sara A. Carter.

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Trump And Biden Both Got Small Convention Bounces. However Only Biden Got More Popular.

Welcome to Pollapalooza, our weekly polling roundup.

Poll(s) of the week

More so than Joe Biden, President Trump got a small boost in head-to-head polls coming out of the party conventions (although it appears to have been short-lived). But Biden got a convention bounce of sorts, too: The share of voters with a favorable opinion of him has ticked up.

Several pollsters have asked Americans whether they have a favorable or unfavorable view of both Trump and Biden since the Republican National Convention ended on Aug. 27. On average, these polls gave Biden a 48 percent favorable rating and a 46 percent unfavorable rating — or a net favorability rating of +3 percentage points.1 That’s a slight, 4-point increase from his net favorability rating in the same polls before the conventions. To be more minute about it, his net favorability rating actually went from -2 points in polls conducted entirely or mostly before the conventions, to +3 points in polls conducted entirely or mostly between the two conventions2 (after the Democratic National Convention spent four days talking him up), to +3 points in the post-convention period. In some cases, this uptick was within the polls’ margins of error, but the overall upward trend was still pretty clear.

Biden left the conventions a bit more popular

Polls of Joe Biden’s net favorability (favorable rating minus unfavorable rating) before, between and after the conventions

Net FavorabilityPollsterPop.*Pre-DNCBetween ConventionsPost-RNCChangeSSRS/CNNRV-1+9+10Ipsos/ABC NewsA-3+5+6+9Monmouth UniversityRV-5+3+8Global Strategy Group/GBAO/Navigator ResearchRV-1+9+5+6Morning Consult/PoliticoRV-2+4+6Harris/HarvardRV+1+6+5YouGov/The EconomistRV+1-1+5+4Morning ConsultLV0+6+4+4SurveyMonkey/AxiosA-7-1-6+1Change Research/CNBCLV-5-2-6-1YouGov/Yahoo NewsRV+2+6-2-4Average-2+3+3+4*Population surveyed: Adults (A), registered voters (RV), or likely voters (LV).

Includes only pollsters that conducted surveys of the same type of respondent (e.g., registered voters) of Biden’s favorability both shortly before and after the conventions. Polls that were fielded during one of the conventions are grouped by whether they were fielded mostly before or mostly after the first night of the convention. The Morning Consult inter-convention, Morning Consult post-RNC, and YouGov/The Economist post-RNC numbers are averages of two polls each.

Source: Polls

Trump, on the other hand, went into the convention period with lower favorables than Biden and does not appear to have emerged from it any better liked. Before the conventions, his average net favorability (according to these same pollsters) was -13 percentage points. After the DNC started, but before the RNC, his net favorability rating ticked down to -15 points. And the RNC didn’t do much to boost his standing. In the most recent round of surveys from these pollsters, Trump has an average favorable rating of 41 percent and an average unfavorable rating of 55 percent. In other words, his net favorability rating is now -14 points.

The RNC didn’t give Trump a favorability boost

Polls of President Trump’s net favorability (favorable rating minus unfavorable rating) before, between and after the conventions

Net FavorabilityPollsterPop.*Pre-DNCBetween ConventionsPost-RNCChangeMorning Consult/PoliticoRV-18-13+5YouGov/Yahoo NewsRV-14-17-13+1Monmouth UniversityRV-14-13+1Morning ConsultLV-12-12-120SurveyMonkey/AxiosA-10-10-11-1YouGov/The EconomistRV-13-11-14-1Harris/HarvardRV-12-13-1Global Strategy Group/GBAO/Navigator ResearchRV-9-16-11-2SSRS/CNNRV-12-14-2Change Research/CNBCLV-10-13-14-4Ipsos/ABC NewsA-23-28-28-5Average-13-15-14-1*Population surveyed: Adults (A), registered voters (RV), or likely voters (LV).

Includes only pollsters that conducted surveys of the same type of respondent (e.g., registered voters) of Trump’s favorability both shortly before and after the conventions. Polls that were fielded during one of the conventions are grouped by whether they were fielded mostly before or mostly after the first night of the convention. The Morning Consult and YouGov/The Economist post-RNC numbers are averages of two polls each.

Source: Polls

I don’t want to overstate the bump Biden got relative to Trump, though: The increase in Biden’s favorables, much like Trump’s improvement in head-to-head polls, was small by historical standards. As former FiveThirtyEight writer Harry Enten found in 2016, candidates from Jimmy Carter in 1980 to Bill Clinton in 1992 to Al Gore in 2000 to George W. Bush in 2004 saw double-digit surges in their net favorability rating after the conventions, as measured by CBS News polling. That definitely didn’t happen this year.

In addition, Enten found that favorable ratings can also fluctuate a lot after this point in the election cycle. The average candidate between 1980 and 2012 experienced a 6.4-point change in his net favorability between CBS News’s post-convention poll and its final poll of the election. So there’s plenty of time for Biden to sink, or Trump to rise — or Biden to rise, or Trump to sink — in popularity. On the other hand, the conventions’ failure to budge the candidates’ favorable ratings more than a few points could suggest that opinions of both Trump and Biden are already baked in, thanks to intense political polarization.

Speaking of polarization, a handful of the post-convention polls also asked respondents how strongly favorable or unfavorable they felt toward the two nominees. And going just by their “very favorable” and “very unfavorable” ratings, both candidates are underwater; that is, they are both more hated than they are loved.

But Biden still has the advantage in the polls that have asked about this. On average in these polls, since the conventions ended, 26 percent of Americans have said they view Biden very favorably, and 36 percent have said they view him very unfavorably (that’s -10 points on net). By contrast, Trump has an average “very favorable” rating of 29 percent and an average “very unfavorable” rating of 47 percent (-18 points on net).

That’s a much narrower gap than FiveThirtyEight contributor Michael Tesler found in late June, when Biden was at -3 points and Trump was at -23 points in that measure. But it still suggests that voters’ motivations to vote against Trump are higher than their motivations to vote against Biden. As Tesler argued earlier this summer, this could mean that Biden, not Trump, is the candidate with the enthusiasm edge in this election.

Other polling bites

Late last week, The Atlantic reported that Trump called fallen American troops “losers” and “suckers” during a 2018 trip to France. Trump and a number of other administration officials vigorously denied the report. This week, YouGov found that 50 percent of Americans believed the report, while 31 percent thought it was false. Nineteen percent didn’t know.Despite Trump’s claims that a coronavirus vaccine could be available before Election Day, the American public is skeptical. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that 81 percent of Americans didn’t think a vaccine will be ready by then. And if a free coronavirus vaccine is developed and approved by the Food and Drug Administration before the election, just 42 percent of Americans said they would want to get it. Why? Sixty-two percent of respondents said they worried that political pressure would lead the FDA to rush to approve the vaccine before it is proven to be safe and effective.A new Pew Research Center survey of thousands of verified voters — who Pew independently confirmed voted in 2016 and 2018 — found that Democrats’ gains in the 2018 midterms came from several sources: More Hillary Clinton voters turned out to vote in the midterms than Trump voters did, more Trump voters defected to Democrats than Clinton voters to Republicans, and those who voted for a third-party candidate or didn’t vote at all in 2016 broke for Democrats in 2018.Voters in Portland, Oregon, will vote on a ballot measure this November that would set up an new system for police oversight with more input from the community. This week, a group campaigning for the measure released an internal poll that found 70 percent of Portland voters in favor of it. The poll also gave Mayor Ted Wheeler, who is up for reelection, a 26 percent favorable rating and 63 percent unfavorable rating.A SurveyUSA poll of California’s 50th Congressional District, conducted for KGTV-TV and the San Diego Union-Tribune, puts Republican Darrell Issa at 46 percent and Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar at 45 percent — a surprising result, given that this district voted for Trump by 15 points in 2016.

Trump approval

According to FiveThirtyEight’s presidential approval tracker, 42.7 percent of Americans approve of the job Trump is doing as president, while 53.1 percent disapprove (a net approval rating of -10.4 points). At this time last week, 43.4 percent approved and 52.3 percent disapproved (a net approval rating of -8.9 points). One month ago, Trump had an approval rating of 41.4 percent and a disapproval rating of 54.8 percent, for a net approval rating of -13.4 points.

Generic ballot

In our average of polls of the generic congressional ballot, Democrats currently lead by 6.6 percentage points (48.5 percent to 42.0 percent). A week ago, Democrats led Republicans by 7.4 points (48.7 percent to 41.3 percent). At this time last month, voters preferred Democrats by 7.6 points (48.5 percent to 40.9 percent).

Check out all the polls we’ve been collecting ahead of the 2020 elections.

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Election Update: Surveys Are Good For Biden Pretty Much Everywhere– Except Florida

Welcome to FiveThirtyEight’s Election Update for Wednesday, Sept. 9. And at this point, it’s no longer too early to look at the polls. We’re moving away from the convention period of the race and into the thick of the election. However, the overall race hasn’t changed all that much. Joe Biden has a 74 in 100 chance of winning compared to Trump who has a 26 in 100 shot, according to our forecast, and as you can see in the chart below, those odds have been pretty consistent.

But even though the topline numbers haven’t changed all that much, that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been some movement at the state level. It’s not super easy to find patterns where Biden is gaining or losing ground — still a lot of noise at this point — but it does seem as if, on the whole, there’s been mostly good news for Biden. Except for Florida, which, as you can see in the chart below, is where Trump has closed the gap the most.

Polling shifts in battleground states are pretty noisy

Change in Joe Biden’s margin vs. Donald Trump’s margin in battleground states, according to FiveThirtyEight polling averages from Aug. 17 to Sept. 9, as of 2:30 p.m. on Sept. 9

Biden margin vs. TrumpStateAug. 17Sept. 9ChangeFlorida+5.3+2.8-2.6Colorado+13.4+11.4-2.0Ohio+0.5-0.9-1.4Pennsylvania+6.4+5.0-1.4New Hampshire+9.3+8.2-1.1Georgia-0.9-1.7-0.8Nevada+6.8+6.4-0.4Michigan+7.6+7.4-0.2Virginia+10.8+10.8-0.1Wisconsin+6.8+7.0+0.1North Carolina+1.3+1.7+0.4Minnesota+5.6+6.1+0.5Texas-2.0-0.9+1.1Arizona+3.6+5.1+1.5Aug. 17 was the first day of the Democratic National Convention. Each state included has at least a 1 percent chance of being the “tipping point” state in 2020.

Source: POLLS

And at this point, though, it’s really only Florida that’s moved all that much. In most other states which have been polled about as much as Florida — there’ve been 12 polls there since the start of the Democratic convention — they’ve seen far less of a change or barely any movement at all. Four other states have at least 10 polls in the same timeframe — Pennsylvania (17 polls), Wisconsin (12), Michigan (10) and North Carolina (10) — yet their numbers have budged only a little.1 What’s more, it’s mostly good news for Biden at this point.

It’s true that Biden is polling better in a state like Wisconsin than in his home state of Pennsylvania, which has caused some confusion given the states’ demographic similarities, but it’s important that we not read too much into it at this point.

Case in point, despite losing ground in Pennsylvania, Biden got a great poll there today from NBC News/Marist College, which found him with a 9-point lead among likely voters, whereas a poll from Marquette Law School poll of Wisconsin was more middling, putting Biden ahead by just 4 points, and actually bring down his average just slightly there.

It’s a little surprising that these states haven’t necessarily moved more in tandem as the results in states with similar demographics are often correlated. But it’s an important reminder that sometimes individual polls look like they’re pointing in opposite directions, but with enough data, many of the so-called movements even out in the end, and at this point, it’s still mostly good news for Biden aside from Florida.

As for what’s happening in Florida, we’re still a little unsure of what to make of it, as we’d expect the numbers in fellow Sun Belt states Arizona and Texas to have moved in similar ways — but they haven’t. Some of this might have to do with Florida’s Hispanic population, however. Whereas Mexican Americans comprise more than 80 percent of the Hispanic population in Arizona and Texas, Cuban Americans form a plurality — 29 percent — of Florida Hispanics, and on the whole they are much more conservative.

Recent polling suggests this could be a critical difference, too. For example, Democratic pollster GQR’s new Florida survey found Biden ahead 51 percent to 46 percent overall, but Trump led by 18 points among Cuban Americans while trailing by 17 points among non-Cuban Hispanics. And a Miami Herald/Bendixen & Amandi survey of just Miami-Dade County, home to two-thirds of the Florida’s Cuban population, found them breaking for Trump 68 percent to 30 percent. It’s possible that in the wake of a GOP convention that painted Democrats as socialists and even featured a Cuban American speaker, Cuban Americans responded by becoming more supportive of the president. It also helps that Florida has been trending slightly to the right in presidential elections for a while now.

But as with most questions involving polls, we need more to get a better read on just how much is real, lasting change. We’re still in Trump’s post-convention bounce period, too, so some of Trump’s gains could wear off in Florida and elsewhere in the coming weeks. Moreover, the lack of movement in FiveThirtyEight’s forecast is one reason to not make too much hay of the change in Florida — at least, not yet.