The door isn’t closed on President Donald Trump’s reelection, but time is running short.
Labor Day once marked the start of concerted general-election campaigning, but it comes with a far greater sense of urgency this year for Trump. Because of coronavirus-related changes in election administration across the country, more Americans than ever are expected to cast their ballots early this year, whether by mail or in person.
And Trump, who didn’t get the election-changing convention bounce he hoped for, still trails Joe Biden by a significant margin among voters nationally — and by varying, but mostly smaller, gaps in many of the key battleground states. The latest updates to POLITICO’s Election Forecast point to a relatively stable political environment, and that’s not what the president needs.
Even as turbulence pervades the news around politics, Biden is still staked to a lead and favored to win the presidency, as more than half a million absentee ballots were dropped in the mail last week in North Carolina and Minnesota prepares to open in-person early voting at the end of next week. Biden’s edge is not overwhelming, though, given Trump’s advantages in the Electoral College.
Meanwhile, the battle for the Senate is as tight as ever, with both parties fighting over a handful of hotly contested seats that will tilt what is likely to be a narrow majority for either side, even as Democrats could strengthen their already tight grasp on the House.
Presidential: Lean Democratic
Biden remains the favorite to be sworn in as the nation’s 46th president next January, but the swing-state battlefield is still up for grabs. There are still enough electoral votes in the four states rated as toss-ups — Arizona, Florida, North Carolina and Wisconsin — to tilt the race one way or the other.
But Biden’s edge comes from two states Trump carried in 2016, Michigan and Pennsylvania, leaning towards him along with other traditional battlegrounds, like Nevada and New Hampshire, which Hillary Clinton won. Minnesota also remains in the “Lean Democratic” category, though both campaigns are playing heavily there. Polls also show tight races in states like Georgia, Iowa, Ohio and Texas, but those states are still leaning in Trump’s column — for now.
Two long-time battleground states, Colorado and Virginia, are almost entirely off the board for Trump. He is barely contesting the combined 22 electoral votes from both states, while Biden has booked a nominal amount of TV advertising for the final stretch just to be safe. Colorado and Virginia have moved from “Lean Democratic” to “Likely Democratic.”
And while polls currently point to a Biden victory that would be short of a landslide — Biden’s lead is slightly smaller than it was two months ago, when the forecast was last updated — a bigger Biden win that would expand the electoral map is still possible. Alaska and Montana, two Republican-leaning, idiosyncratic states, moved from “Solid Republican” to “Likely Republican,” as public and private polling shows the president underperforming his 2016 margins there.