Even with current polling, I stick by my current expectation of Trump winning (though I don’t have a realistic horse in the race). I could definitely be wrong (and even if I’m right don’t give me much credit in case I got lucky), and my confidence is lower than over summertime. I believe his chances of winning are nonetheless far higher than polling would lead one to believe.
1.) I’m smelling some overconfidence in the Biden campaign eerily reminiscent of 2016. He appears much decidedly less active in his campaigning these final days than Trump.
2.) Many polls in key swing states are, surprisingly, using the same flawed methods to measure voter opinions that they used in 2016 with little change. There’s a lot of evidence that these methods are biased and don’t reach Trump supporters disproportionately.
3.) The year’s unprecedented pandemic and riots, if they align with key historical patterns of instability prior to U.S. elections, may favor Trump as well. An example among a few is Richard Nixon’s victory in 1968 amidst the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King and the subsequent national riots. Nixon ran a “law and order” campaign, and to many people’s surprise, won. This approach could potentially be even more profitable for Trump if the law enforcement and law enforcement supporter vote swings his way when it previously favored the Democrats. There’s definitely signs of defecting from law enforcement unions and lobbyists, which are traditionally Democratic.
4.) Based on Gary Johnson’s pattern of performance in 2016, the way that polling may be biased against Libertarian voters similarly to Trump voters, the similar to 2016 strong or stronger unpopularity of both major party candidates in 2020, and Jo Jorgensen’s (in my opinion) even stronger candidate profile and sharp contrasts to the two main candidates, all give her the ability to upset the election in part. Outside of usual Libertarians, I believe she’ll draw more of the vote away from Democrats than Republicans for several reasons:
She’s a strong, powerful, and intelligent lady; which tends to resonate more with the left. (In general from what voters expressly seem to value most, not always.)
Jo is the most radical of the three highest polling candidates in terms of her proposals straying from Trump and Biden policies, which honestly tend to appear kind of similar oftentimes. The voters looking for the most radical change, often on the left, may see this as more appealing.
Psychologically, the ability to vote for someone with a sparkling record and personal life that you genuinely approve of without the worst types of scandals may provide greater positive feelings when people actually arrive at the booths than voting for Biden to get rid of Trump or voting for Trump to avoid Biden. Despite plans that might have been reported in polls, many minds may change during the action of voting itself. Fear is no doubt a huge motivator in politics, especially this year, but I certainly imagine a higher proportion of Jorgensen voters leaving the booth with smiles on their faces. I think this will draw more voters from Biden as I notice from enthusiasm indicators and searches that Trump supporters actually “like” Trump more than I notice Biden supporters “liking” Biden. This also matches my personal experience of not being able to find a single Biden voter that actually really likes him in my network. I do know people who like Trump though.
5.) Overconfidence from the polls and news favoring Biden leading to a perception that Biden has an easy win. I already see many intelligent people and voters taking his victory for granted similarly to how Hillary’s victory was taken for granted. If you’re concretely convinced and every outlet and poll and “reasonable person” is telling you Biden has it in the bag, going to vote for Biden seems like a less important job. You may even be more likely to vote Libertarian for personal satisfaction with the national assurance that Biden will ultimately win, or just stay home. A lot of people are frantically trying to adjust to life still amidst relative instability in the country. They may have higher opportunity costs than usual for going to vote. This could decrease turnout relative to what it might have been as well.
6.) The debates were terrible, but I think Trump mostly appeared more competent and sharp than Biden to viewers, even if the two were both, well you know, Trump and Biden.
7.) Democrats appear to be banking more on mail-in ballots. Younger people like myself generally don’t like sending physical mail. The cost of voting appears higher relative to doing it at the booth for many young people, and this could procrastinate away some expected Democratic support. This may sound silly, but it’s a worry shared by Michael McDonald who heads the Elections Project. Additionally, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court voided about 100,000 mail-in ballots (which tend to favor Democrat voters), which is not small potatoes. I fully expect Republicans and courts to find more, some reasonable and some not, reasons for rejecting groups of mail-in ballots. These measures could be decisive.
8.) Biden ceded field operations to Trump until the final month of this election year due to virus fears. This effectively abandoned grassroots campaign instruments such as organized door-knocking that are normally a larger advantage for Democrats over Republicans in mobilizing voters.
Of course, nobody knows now. But soon, all of us will. Pretty profound when you think about it.