With fewer than three days remaining until the start of Election Day voting, the Spirited Reasoner is prepared to offer a final prediction. What should (hopefully) set this prediction apart from other media predictions is the lack of political pontification required. Instead, these conclusions are based entirely on empirical observations, statistical data, and inferences reasonably drawn therefrom.
How can we be so sure, you ask, when all of us (including the Spirited Reasoner) were shocked at the election results in 2016?
Consider the following facts. Demographic data can be checked at https://www.pewresearch.org/politics/2018/08/09/an-examination-of-the-2016-electorate-based-on-validated-voters/
- Hillary Clinton’s loss to Donald Trump was largely attributable to her failure to attract the heavy turnout of non-traditional voters that Barack Obama had attracted. This year, however, turnout from absentee, vote-by-mail, and early in-person voting indicates that the percentage of registered voters casting ballots will exceed all previous elections in our collective lifetimes. Most current polls, however, are based on models that do not incorporate this phenomenon. Instead, they assume that demographic groups will continue to vote in accordance with prior years’ patterns. For example, in prior years, older people tended to vote at higher percentage rates than did people under the age of 30. Likewise, white voters tended to vote at higher percentage rates than nonwhite voters. This year’s extremely high turnout figures would indicate a change in previous patterns, favoring whichever candidate is more popular with younger and nonwhite voters. In 2016, Hillary Clinton led Donald Trump by a margin of 58% to 28% among voters under the age of 30. She led Donald Trump by a margin of 91% to 6% among Black voters. Thus, we can expect that, unlike 2016, current polls are understating the Biden vote. STRONG ADVANTAGE: DEMOCRATS
- Registration information indicates that Democrats have cast ballots in numbers far exceeding those of Republicans. While conventional wisdom (i. e., television pundits) argue that these votes may be offset by Republicans voting in person on Tuesday, there are two problems with that analysis: (a) it might well be that the reason why Democrats are returning ballots in numbers that exceed Republicans is because of the reasons set forth above, namely, that so many more younger and nonwhite voters are participating this year; and (2) having votes in the “bank” is preferable to having the mere hope that voters will show up on Tuesday. In other words, Democratic votes are being cast in record numbers. Whether Republicans will show up in record numbers remains to be seen. MINOR ADVANTAGE: DEMOCRATS
- COVID-19 is currently attacking precisely those midwestern states where Trump shocked Clinton in 2016. These include Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Voters in those states will (a) be more likely to view the management of COVID-19 as an important issue in the election, and (b) find in-person voting to be more problematic. MINOR ADVANTAGE: DEMOCRATS
- Current polls show Biden leading Trump by several percentage points greater than Clinton’s slim poll margins in 2016. Current electoral maps (see, e. g., https://www.270towin.com/ ) give Biden a predicted electoral margin of 290 to 163, with 85 tossup votes remaining. Only 270 electoral votes are necessary to win. Should Biden run the table in the tossup states of Ohio, Iowa, North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida (plus the tossup district in Maine), where most polls show him neck-and-neck with Trump, he could wind up winning in an electoral landslide, 375 to 163. SOLID ADVANTAGE: DEMOCRATS
Based on the above, the Spirited Reasoner is prepared to go out on a limb to predict that Americans will not be required to wait days or weeks to know the final outcome of this year’s presidential race. While many Senate, House, state, and local elections may end up being too close to call, the huge outpouring of early voting portends something more akin to a blue wave.