11.02.2020 0

Trump victory dependent on Election Day turnout of the Silent Majority

By Robert Romano

“President Trump has the momentum in this race and the math available to him to win on Election Day… President Trump is ahead of where he was in 2016, by a very key measure. It’s the measure that actually matters. Votes cast, and votes left to be cast.”

That was President Donald Trump’s campaign manager, Bill Stepien, outlining on Twitter the Trump campaign and Republicans’ optimism headed into Election Day, showing Republicans are overperforming on early and absentee voting compared to 2016.

In Ohio: “Weeks ago the partisan makeup of the electorate was D +10, today it’s D +0.6. Going into E Day in 2016, the gap was D +2.5.”

In North Carolina: “Democrats jumped out to a D +32 advantage during AB only voting. Today it’s D +5.8. Going into Election Day in 2016, the gap was D +9.7.”

In Arizona: “Weeks ago the makeup of the electorate was D +11.9, today it’s D +1.2. Reminder: going into E Day in 2016, the gap was D +2.5.”

In Florida: “Democrats jumped out to a D +18.8 advantage during AB-only voting. Today it’s D +1. Going into Election Day in 2016, the gap was D +1.4.”

In Wisconsin: “In Wisconsin, weeks ago the partisan makeup of the electorate was D +12.3 – today it’s D +5.9. Going into Election Day in ‘16, the gap was D +9.6.”

In Nevada: “Democrats jumped out to a D +27.3 advantage during AB only voting. Today it’s D +5. Flashback: going into Election Day in 2016, the gap was D +7.9.”

In Pennsylvania: “Dems have banked A TON of high propensity voters. We have millions of voters left. Pres. Trump’s E Day margin needs to be significant and we project an Election Day votes cast margin of over a million for Pres. Trump.”

And in Michigan: “Democrats have banked their high propensity voters. We have nearly 2 million voters left. Pres. Trump’s E Day margin needs to be 350k – we project an Election Day votes cast margin of 400k+ for Pres. Trump.”

In conclusion, Stepien predicts: “it’s pretty simple – if the voters that we KNOW are still out there for Election Day show up ON Election Day, President Trump has four more years at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.”

In short, headed into Election Day, Republicans have closed the gap on early and absentee voting compared to 2016 in several of the battleground states Trump carried in 2016, meaning, if Americans supporting the President show up heavy on Tuesday, Trump will likely be reelected.

So, what to watch out for? President Trump’s road to 270 Electoral College votes will certainly depend on holding almost all of the battleground states he won last time. Of those, the most crucial are Florida, North Carolina, Ohio and Iowa. Add to that Texas and Georgia, which Trump should win decisively.

These are all states President Trump has polled well in during the closing days of the race, and any surprises here with wins in Biden’s column, with the possible exception of Iowa, would almost certainly end his chances of being reelected.


Of those, Ohio may be the biggest bellwether, having chosen the winner in 90 percent of presidential elections dating back to 1860, in 36 out of 40 contests. The saying is, so goes Ohio, so goes the nation. In 2016, Trump’s strength there — he won by 8 points — foreshadowed his upset victories in the Blue Wall states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

On the question of turnout, Democrats have been banking on heavy mail-in voting in response to the Covid pandemic as leading the way to victory. But as of Nov. 2, almost 30 million out of 90 million mail-in ballots that were requested were not mailed in, according to the U.S. Elections Project, meaning heavy Election Day turnout could favor Trump.

On that count, Rasmussen Reports has Trump leading Biden in Ohio by 3 points: 48 percent to 45 percent. A key stat is that President Trump appears to be overwhelmingly winning late-deciding and Election Day voters: “Sixty percent (60%) of voters in the Buckeye State have already voted this election cycle. Among these voters, Biden leads 52% to 42%. Among the remaining 40% who haven’t voted, Trump has a 57% to 34% advantage.”

If Ohio, the quintessential of swing states, has Trump winning Election Day voters by decisive almost a 3:2 margin, and that plays out everywhere to varying degrees, it could be a very good night for the GOP, because it will have meant heavy turnout in Republican counties Trump carried in 2016, a pattern likely to repeat across the country.

In neighboring Iowa, the Des Moines Register has Trump leading Biden by 7 points: 48 percent to 41 percent.

If you add Arizona to the mix of states that Trump holds, despite Biden leading most polls there all year long, that takes Trump up to the neighborhood of 259 to 260 Electoral College votes, one or two swing states away from victory. If Trump loses Arizona, and then he will need at least one of the Blue Wall states from last time to even it out (or somewhere else), and need one more on top of that to eke out an Electoral College win.

Other potential bellwethers that will be called early to watch that could tell you what’s happening in certain demographics: 1) Suffolk County, N.Y., a key suburban stronghold, where Trump carried the county in 2016, the first Republican to do so since 1992; 2) upstate New York, which went heavy for Trump and foreshadowed his strength in Pennsylvania. Does former U.S. Rep. Claudia Tenney win back her seat in N.Y.-CD22? 3) Pennsylvania: Does Biden win Philadelphia and its suburbs by enough to win? 4) Virginia: Does Trump improve on his 2016 performance, perhaps indicating underpolled strength in suburbs elsewhere?

And finally, 5) The popular vote: Biden is leading national polls on average by 6.8 percentage points. If it’s much closer than that, that could be a key indicator of massive polling failure at the state level as well.

Obviously, Biden has a decisive edge in public opinion polls, but even statistical modeler Nate Silver is hedging, saying that if Trump wins Florida, North Carolina and Georgia, the race is a 50-50 coin toss, writing on Twitter: “If Trump wins all three Needle States the election is 50:50.” Adding Arizona to the mix with Florida, North Carolina and Georgia, Silver adds, “Biden is favored (narrowly) in all 4 of those states. If he wins just one of them, [that] suggests he’s still underperfomring his polls and the Midwest (+ maybe NH) isn’t all that safe.”

Meaning, we’ll know pretty quickly if Biden is underperforming the polls. Silver’s own model failed catastrophically in this regard in 2016 — it picks the winner based on leads in state polls in the Electoral College — and so he is being mindful that this shortcoming could replay itself as the model is only as good as the polls.

To be certain, in Florida, polls underreported Trump support by 2 percentage points, in North Carolina by 3.3 points, in Ohio by 5.5 points, in Pennsylvania by 3.5 points and Michigan by 4.1 points. Nationally, polls underreported Trump’s nationwide support by 2.5 percentage points, when in the election he received 46.1 percent of the popular vote to Clinton’s 48.2 percent.

Here, Silver is saying that if Biden’s leads in Florida, North Carolina and Georgia were merely on paper and Trump once again overperforms the polls there, the likelihood is he overperforms everywhere else, too, because of the hidden Trump voter problem.

Robert Cahaly, chief pollster of Trafalgar Group, the only poll that called the 2016 race for Trump in Michigan, who in June said in 2020 the race is a dead heat and that “social desirability bias” is “worse than it was four years ago.”

On July 26, President Trump predicted victory coming from the hidden Trump voter: “The Silent Majority will speak on NOVEMBER THIRD!!!”

Now, Trafalgar is once again showing Trump with a 2-point lead in Pennsylvania, a 3-point lead in Michigan, a 2-point lead in North Carolina, a 2.5 point lead Arizona, a 5-point lead in Ohio and a 3-point lead in Florida.

Suffice to say, if that all breaks Trump’s way, he will be easily reelected. But the question will turn on Election Day turnout. If turnout is light, Biden will likely win with the early voting edge, despite Republicans overperforming on early and absentee ballots. On the other hand, if Republicans show up heavily at the polls, the odds increase that President Trump will have pulled off yet another historic upset and will be serving for four more years. Stay tuned.

Robert Romano is the Vice President of Public Policy at Americans for Limited Government.

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