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Two Half-Debates Will Take Place Tonight

The originally scheduled presidential debate will take place tonight in a format somewhat different than planned. Joe Biden will be on ABC holding a town hall and Donald Trump will be on NBC holding a town hall. Both town halls will be from 8 to 9 p.m. In the first debate, they were talking at the same time. Tonight that will also be the case, only this time it is official. In the end, Nielsen will determine who won by announcing who got better ratings. Trump has a bit of an advantage here because he is unpredictable and that sometimes makes for more interesting television. On the other hand, Democrats can't stand listening to him for more than 10 seconds, so presumably close to zero Democrats will watch NBC tonight. In contrast, some moderate Republicans might be actually interested in hearing what Biden has to say this time, something that was impossible in the first debate.

NBC has been widely criticized for scheduling Trump at the same moment as Biden, making it impossible for people to watch both on television at the same time, although they could watch one on a television and the other on a smartphone. Then the candidates would be talking on top of each other—just like a real debate. Alternatively, people could watch one in real time and the other afterwards on YouTube, but probably few partisans will watch the candidate they dislike. NBC could have made that a lot easier by having Trump appear at 9 instead of 8, but it didn't. The consequence of NBC's decision is that most likely people will stay in their own bubble and hear only what they want to hear.

The parallel debates happened because the Commission on Presidential Debates decided to make the second debate virtual, in part due to Trump's case of COVID-19, and probably in part to give the moderator a button to turn off his mic. Trump refused those conditions, so Biden arranged his own town hall with ABC. To get some attention himself, Trump then went to NBC and got it to host his own town hall in the same time slot as Biden's, forcing people to choose which one to watch. From the point of view of executives at ABC and NBC, the canceled debate left a hole in the schedule that the town halls nicely fill. That leaves CBS with a hole to fill. It could show reruns of I Love Lucy, perhaps. It would be embarrassing to the candidates if Lucy won the ratings war, though. (V)

Barrett Performs Act II of the Kabuki Theater in Which She is Starring

Amy Coney Barrett talked a lot and said nothing again yesterday, just as all judicial nominees do during their Senate confirmation hearings. When asked about whether she would vote to kill the entire Affordable Care Act if one part of it was found defective, she said that judges' presumptions should always be for severability. Note that she didn't say whether she thinks that in general or in this case, just that much of the time other judges should presume severability. None of the Democratic senators were impressed.

Barrett also refused to say whether Medicare was constitutional, leaving it open whether she could vote to kill the health plan that 65 million Americans rely on. She said on Tuesday that what she is concerned about is the actual words in the Constitution and the laws, not the real-world effects of her votes. If she concludes that Medicare violates the Constitution, then tough luck for those 65 million seniors. They are just collateral damage. Like her mentor Antonin Scalia, Barrett is an "originalist" who claims we can figure out precisely what a bunch of dead, white, wealthy men thought about a government program that did not exist until nearly 200 years after they died.

Possibly even more controversial is her refusal to state whether a president can pardon himself. That is an issue that could very possibly be on her plate within about 4 months. It also sends a message to Donald Trump that, hey, a self-pardon might be a good idea. After all, a close reading of the Constitution says that the president can pardon people for crimes against the United States. There is no asterisk there with a footnote saying

* Except self pardons, pardons given in exchange for bribes, or pardons for people who committed a crime on the express orders of the president.

She also declined to say whether Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell were correctly decided. If they weren't, she could be open to making the sale of contraceptives illegal, declaring homosexual acts to be a criminal offense, and invalidating all same-sex marriages. She wasn't saying.

The acrimonious nature of Supreme Court nominations is due primarily to three things. First, the founding parents were dealing with a king they didn't especially like and a British parliament that they were not fond of. So the Constitution was written to divide power over those two branches and give each one some ways to oppose the other. For example, the president is commander-in-chief, but Congress has the power of the purse. Nobody thought much about the judiciary and certainly nobody thought it was going to be more important than the other two branches in some ways. If they had foreseen this, then the Constitution would have been a lot more detailed about how justices were chosen, how they could be removed, and what they could and couldn't do.

Second, the founding parents certainly didn't expect the Supreme Court to throw out laws duly passed by Congress and signed by the president, and to do it regularly and on a fairly partisan basis. This business of throwing out laws is nowhere to be found in the Constitution. John Marshall simply did it in Marbury v. Madison and nobody said: "Hey, you can't do that." There are very few other nations where the highest court throw out laws it doesn't like. Everywhere else it is the elected legislative branch that decides what the laws should be. None of the senators asked Barrett what should have been a straightforward question: "You are an originalist who believes it is the exact words in the Constitution that matter. Which specific section and clause of the Constitution gives the Supreme Court the authority to throw out laws Congress has passed?" It would have been interesting to see her squirm on that.

Third, as the Republican Party has become focused on appealing to an ever-narrowing slice of the electorate, the only way it can keep the Democrats from implementing their policy objectives as they increasingly win elections (including the popular vote in six of the past seven presidential elections) is to have the courts declare laws it doesn't like (e.g., the ACA) to be unconstitutional. Hence each Supreme Court seat is precious and is a fight to the death. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) knows that bringing up Barrett for confirmation 3 weeks before the election will probably cost the GOP its Senate majority, but he believes that winning the Supreme Court but losing the Senate is a good deal in the long run, even if he will lose his job of majority leader as a result. (V)

Supreme Court Says That the Administration Can Stop Counting Noses Now

Normally, the census is a non-political event. But like everything else in this administration, it is now highly politicized. Donald Trump wanted to stop the count in September because many of the people who tend not to fill out the form quickly are poor or are minorities. A lower court ruled that the count should continue until the end of October on account of the pandemic and the resulting difficulty enumerators have had finding the most-difficult-to-count people. An appeals court upheld that ruling. Now the Supreme Court has ruled that the counting can stop immediately. It is decisions like this that make the Supreme Court so important and every appointment to it so contentious.

Not counting people has huge effects. Obviously, it affects a state's representation in the House of Representatives and how many electoral votes it has. The people who will be missed will be largely in blue states, although Texas may also have a fair number. Many federal programs distribute aid to the states based on their population as determined by the census. If a few hundred thousand people are missed in California, that could cost the state millions or maybe billions in federal money. Julie Menin, director of NYC Census 2020, said that the census has "been stolen by the Trump administration, which has interfered at every step of the way, and now, the census has been cut short during a global pandemic in which New York City was the epicenter."

The White House wants counting to be completely done by Oct. 31. If it is delayed by a couple of weeks and Joe Biden wins the election, he could get to make decisions about the procedure and the count. Trump has said that he doesn't want to include the approximately 13 million undocumented immigrants in the count, even though the Constitution calls for a count of the number of persons, not citizens. That noncitizens are to be counted is made very clear by the Constitution's requirement to count slaves (who most definitely were not citizens) but to count each one as 3/5 of a person. If the final result is delayed beyond Jan. 20 and Biden wins, he would certainly have a say on matters like that. (V)

Appeals Court Upholds One Drop Box Per County in Texas

Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX) decided that one ballot drop box was enough per Texas county (one of which is larger than Connecticut). His argument is that more drop boxes creates more voter fraud, despite there not being a shred of evidence showing that. Democrats went to court, noting that some Texas residents would have to drive 190 miles round trip to hand in their ballot. A U.S. district judge ruled that was unreasonable. Then an appeals court stayed the lower-court decision until it could hear the case.

Now the appeals court has done that and ruled on the merits that one dropbox per county is fine and dandy. All three judges on the panel were appointed by Donald Trump. Coincidences happen.

Harris County, which has a population of 4.7 million (including all of Houston), will now have one drop box. In Texas, not everyone can vote absentee, but all seniors can. There are about 350,000 seniors in Harris county. If even 10% of the county's seniors decide to use the one drop box, it is going to be quite full with 35,000 ballots. No doubt many voters will notice that, become discouraged, and won't vote. Whether this is a feature or a bug depends on whether you think everyone should be able to vote. It is pretty clear which side Abbott is on. (V)

Three Million New Voters Registered in Texas Since 2016

While limiting voting using drop boxes is certainly good news for Republicans, because many more Democrats than Republicans are expected to use that voting option, not all Texas news is good for the GOP. Since 2016, 3 million voters have registered in the Lone Star State. That means that about 20% of all current Texas voters were not registered in 2016.

Texas voters aren't required to designate a party when registering. Nevertheless, Democratic operatives there expect about 60% of the new registrants to be Democrats. That means 1.8 million new Democrats and 1.2 million new Republicans, a net gain for the blue team of 600,000 voters. If 60% of the new voters actually cast a ballot, that will be a net 360,000 new votes for the Democrats. In 2016, Donald Trump carried Texas by 807,000 votes. However, in 2018, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) beat Beto O'Rourke by only 215,000 votes.

While most of the attention in Texas goes to the presidential race and some to the Senate race, there are also half a dozen House seats the Democrats are aiming to flip. That's where those 360,000 potential votes could have the biggest impact. Another place where it could matter is in the Texas House of Representatives, where Republicans have 83 seats to the Democrats' 67. If the Democrats can flip nine seats, they will take charge of the lower chamber and will be able to block a Republican gerrymander of Texas' expected 38 or 39 congressional districts. Currently there are 23 Republicans and 13 Democrats from Texas in the U.S. House. If Democrats were to capture the Texas House, the state legislature would be gridlocked and unable to draw the congressional map, so a federal judge would almost certainly end up drawing it, and that could cost the Republicans half a dozen or more House seats in 2022. (V)

The On-Again, Off-Again Coronavirus Relief Bill is Off Again

If you can't keep track of whether there will be a coronavirus relief bill before the election (or before the inauguration), don't worry. It's not your fault. The people working on it don't know either. Yesterday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who is negotiating on behalf of the White House, said: "At this point, getting something done before the election and executing on that will be difficult." He should know. He spoke to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) only hours previous about a bill. Even if he and Pelosi were able to come to terms (and that is far from certain), then Mnuchin would have to sell the bill to Senate Republicans and get them to sign on.

A mystery here is what the Dealmaker-in-chief wants, if anything. If Donald Trump wants a bill, he can have it. All he has to do is order Mnuchin to come to terms with Pelosi. That wouldn't be hard to do. But if his goal is for Pelosi to simply accept what he wants and forget about what she wants, it gets a tad more difficult. From an electoral point of view, it is almost certain that a relief deal of some kind would help Trump, especially if he were leading the charge and able to take credit for it. What's in the deal wouldn't actually matter so much as long as people and businesses got something—and soon. But as it appears now, there will be no bill before Election Day, and even if there were, no checks could be sent out to people and no small businesses could be saved before then. There simply isn't enough time left. This is the ultimate test for Trump's deal-making ability. His reelection is on the line and he is failing the test miserably.

Senate Republicans may be giving a preview of what will happen should Joe Biden win the presidency but the GOP holds the Senate. All of a sudden, austerity and the deficit will be the most important things in the known universe. They will oppose every stimulus bill he proposes in order to make sure there is a long and deep recession on his watch, so they can clean up in 2022. In fact, they may oppose everything he proposes even if they lose the Senate. In that case, it would force the Senate Democrats to abolish the filibuster to get anything done. Of course, if the Republican caucus hammers on the deficit as a reason to oppose any stimulus he proposes, he could counter by repealing the $2-trillion tax cut passed in 2017, providing money for a big stimulus in a budgetary-neutral way. (V)

Biden Is Actively Courting Moderates

Joe Biden has made it clear that the next three weeks will be about courting moderates. It isn't that he has thrown the left under the bus—his platform is further left than that of any previous Democrat, including planks like a $15/hr minimum wage—it's just that he sees where the votes are and wants to get them. He is specifically targeting white working-class voters, older Black voters, seniors, and suburban white women.

On Monday, Biden was in Ohio talking to white working-class voters and pointing out that if they voted for Trump in 2016, he has let them down and not helped them as they had hoped. He specifically mentioned trade policy and how Trump has not stanched the flow of jobs overseas. On Tuesday, Biden was in Florida talking about issues of concern to seniors. Another point that Biden makes repeatedly is how he will restore calm to the country, something many moderates want badly.

Some progressive strategists are worried about Biden's approach. Rebecca Katz, a liberal strategist, said: "The best-case scenario is Biden wins big and we gain seats in the House and take back the Senate. The worst-case scenario within that is Biden looks at all these big Democratic wins and decides that his first order of business is to find compromise with Republicans." Nevertheless, most voters on the left hate Trump so much that they will vote for Biden and then turn up the heat if he gets into office.

Moderate Democrats like what Biden is doing. Rep. Conor Lamb (D-PA), who flipped a House seat deep in Trump country, noted that in his district, nobody is asking for Medicare for All or a Green New Deal. He hears that they want to keep their current health insurance, but making it a little cheaper would be greatly appreciated. (V)

Only Half of Americans Expect to Know Who Won by Nov. 5

A poll of 12,000 U.S. adults shows that half of them expect to know who the president-elect is by Nov. 5 or so, and half don't. Researchers found that 76% of Biden supporters expect that they will know who won after all the votes are counted, but only 55% of Trump supporters expect that. Clearly a lot of voters have little faith in the voting process or expect the courts to overrule the voters.

The divide over mail-in ballots is even sharper. Two-thirds of Biden supporters believe that most mail-in ballots will arrive on time vs. one-third of Trump supporters. As to in-person voting, 90% of Trump supporters believe that voting in person is safe vs. 70% of Biden supporters.

A bipartisan group of secretaries of state held a press call yesterday in which they warned that final results would take a while to announce on account of all the absentee ballots and state laws that don't allow the count to begin until Election Day (and sometimes not even until the evening of Election Day).

But as we pointed out on Tuesday, if Biden has commanding wins in North Carolina and Florida on Election Night, then the show is pretty much over then, no matter what happens in the Midwest. (V)

Republicans Are Enthusiastic about Court Packing

Although Republicans are universally warning how undemocratic it would be for Democrats to expand the U.S. Supreme Court next year, at the state level they are wildly enthusiastic about the idea. Strange. Oddly, their views on court packing seem to correlate rather strongly with who is doing the packing. Here is a state-by-state rundown on recent attempts to pack state supreme courts, some successful and some not.

  • Alabama: For some reason, in 2009, the Democratic majority leader introduced a bill to slim down the state Supreme Court from nine to seven justices. However, all nine were Republican appointees, so it is not clear what he was up to. The bill failed.

  • Arizona: In 2016, Arizona Republicans successfully expanded the Arizona Supreme Court from five to seven justices over the objections of the chief justice. The state's Republican governor picked the new justices. The bill's (Republican) sponsor let the cat out of the bag when he said: "If there were a different person appointing [the justices], I might feel less comfortable."

  • Georgia: In 2016, Republicans in the state legislature pushed through a bill allowing then-governor Nathan Deal (R) to add two more justices to the seven-member state Supreme Court. Deal's lawyer said that he hoped the new court would make more decisions favorable to businesses.

  • Florida: In 2007, the Republican-controlled Florida legislature attempted to increase the state Supreme Court from seven to 15 justices because they were upset about a ruling it had made on school vouchers. It failed. In 2011, the legislature tried again and failed again.

  • Iowa: After the state Supreme Court struck down the state's ban on same-sex marriage in 2009, Republicans in the legislature attempted to pack the court by adding two more justices. That didn't work because Democrats controlled the legislature at the time.

  • Louisiana: In 2017, a Democrat introduced a bill to expand the Louisiana Supreme Court from seven to nine justices. It failed.

  • Montana: In 2011, Republicans in the state legislature attempted to unpack the state's top court by removing the two most liberal justices. They were completely open about their motives. Nevertheless, the bill died in committee.

  • Oklahoma: Same story in Oklahoma, only this time the unpacking would have reduced the number of justices from nine to five, eliminating four Democratic appointees. The effort failed.

  • Pennsylvania: In 2014, the Republicans in the state legislature introduced a bill to shrink government, including eliminating the office of the lieutenant governor, reducing the size of the general assembly, and also the size of the state Supreme Court. Just by chance, all of these changes would have benefited the Republicans. It didn't make it.

  • South Carolina: From 1995 to 2010, Democratic state senator Robert Ford kept introducing a bill to expand the top court from five to seven justices. It kept failing. Since 2013, Republicans have been trying to pack the court and have kept failing.

  • Washington: In 2013, Republicans attempted to get rid of four Democratic appointees on the nine-member Supreme Court after the court shot down a Republican-imposed restriction on tax hikes. The Brennan Center for Justice characterized the move as a threat to judicial independence. It failed.

In nearly all the cases above, increasing or decreasing the size of the state Supreme Court would have helped the Republicans. Often the ideological balance of the Court was at stake. Clearly at the state level, the Republicans have been playing ideological hardball with the courts and sometimes succeeding. It would be hypocritical in the extreme if they condemned Democrats in a potential Biden administration for doing at the federal level what they have been actively trying to do at the state level for years. Needless to say, they will say that packing the state Supreme Courts with Republicans is completely different from packing the U.S. Supreme Court with Democrats. But it follows the same hallowed principle: It is legal and we have the power to do it so we will do it. (V)

How Polling Has Changed Since 2016

The popular notion that the polls were way off in 2016 is wrong. If a poll says that "Smith" is ahead of "Jones" 49% to 47% with a margin of error of 4 points, what that means is that the pollster is predicting that there is a 95% chance that Smith will score in the range 45% to 53% and that Jones will come in between 43% and 51%. Victory by Jones, 50% to 44%, would mean the pollster still got it right. In 2016, the national polls had Hillary Clinton winning by 3%. She won by 2.1%, which is close to perfect. The state polls weren't as good. The worst state was Wisconsin. We had Clinton ahead 46% to 41%. She indeed got 46% but Trump got 47%, so he was slightly outside the predicted range of about 37% to 45%. The final predictions for Michigan and Pennsylvania were correct in terms of the ranges predicted.

That said, pollsters are being much more careful this time. In particular, in 2016 they didn't realize how predictive educational level was of how someone (especially men) would vote. Having learned from 2016, pollsters are doing things differently this year. FiveThirtyEight contacted 21 pollsters, of whom 15 responded (an undreamed of 71% response rate) and learned what has changed this time.

To start with, just about every pollster is now weighting for education in order to have the right number of noncollege whites in the weighted sample. This is a no-brainer given how predictive education is of party preference nowadays. Actually, it always was, only the roles are reversed now. It used to be that college graduates were Republicans and high school graduates were Democrats.

Some pollsters, including Pew and Ipsos, are now weighting education within racial groups, making sure they have the right number of white college and noncollege voters and also the right number of Black college and noncollege voters, since different races have different percentages of college attendance.

Lee Miringoff, head of polling at Marist College, said that he is paying more attention to geography. He wants to be sure he has the right number of urban, suburban, and rural voters in his samples. The higher the population density, the more Democratic a location is, so he is careful not to undersample rural areas.

Recruiting respondents has also changed, with random-digit dialing less popular than it was. Pew Research now first contacts potential respondents by sending them a letter, to make them aware that the call later is legitimate. The hope is to raise the dismal response rates. Some pollsters have completely abolished random-digit dialing and are drawing a random sample from lists of registered voters instead. One advantage of this in states that register voters by party and publish the party registration is that the pollster can more accurately get whatever percentage of Democrats, Republicans, and independents it wants.

Another change is far more calls are being made to cell phones. Some statistics show that 96% of Americans own a cell phone. Suffolk University now makes 88% of its calls to cell phones. The downside of this approach is that it raises costs. It is illegal to have a computer call a cell phone, so all these calls have to be made manually, which reduces the number of calls per hour an interviewer can make.

Some pollsters, including Cygnal, PPP, Emerson College, and SurveyUSA are conducting polls by text message. Tom Jensen, PPP's director, said that men and people in urban areas prefer answering polls by text rather than by phone, so the response rates go up when using texts. Jay Leve, SurveyUSA's CEO, said that on any given day, they have four different methodologies in use: live phone interviews, robocalls, online surveys with prerecruited respondents, and text polls. Other pollsters are also moving toward online polling with prerecruited panels. On the minus side, making sure the panels are representative is hard. On the plus side, longitudinal studies are much easier. If Jane Smith is polled online month after month, and in June, July, August, and September she was planning to vote for Donald Trump and in October she switched to Biden, the pollster has detected a real change that is not just due to a bad sample.

It seems unlikely that pollsters will make the same mistakes in 2020 that they made in 2016 (especially concerning education), but there are plenty of new mistakes they can make. Miringoff says that the obsession with education may obscure other problems, like the sudden reliance on listed telephone numbers, which misses people with unlisted numbers, something random-digit dialing is immune to.

The biggest worry that all pollsters have is the effect the pandemic will have on turnout. For example, a voter may say: "I am absolutely, 100% going to vote in person, even if have to stand in line for 12 hours." This counts as a likely voter. Then on election eve, the local news says that deaths from COVID-19 in his area have tripled in the past week and the voter stays home. How can a pollster correct for this?

Then there is another worry: The polls are perfect but the vote count is not. What happens if large numbers of absentee ballots don't arrive on time due to the mail being (possibly intentionally) slow or are rejected due to signature or witness errors or stray marks on the envelope? What happens if many voters are turned away at the polls because their student ID card is not an acceptable ID in their state and they don't have a gun permit (which is)? What happens if the lines to vote are so long that some voters give up? In short, the polls may give a perfect reflection of how people wanted to vote but not how the actual electorate turned out. Then the pollsters will get blamed for something they had no control over.

On the plus side, in 2016, most of the undecideds voted for Trump. The polls couldn't and didn't take that into account. This year the number of undecideds is under 5% and may be even smaller by Election Day, so that factor is minimized. Also, there wasn't enough polling in the Upper Midwest last time. That's not going to happen this time. We currently have 60 polls of Michigan and 53 polls of Wisconsin so we have a pretty good idea of what is going on in those states. So, maybe the polls will nail it completely this time. (V)

What's the Big Picture?

Chris Weigant has a column on the future of presidential elections with which we completely agree and which is the inspiration for this item. It is increasingly likely that Donald Trump's surprise upset victory was a black swan event caused in part due to many people strongly disliking Hillary Clinton and in part to her campaign mistakes, like putting effort into Arizona but never visiting Wisconsin even a single time.

First, if Joe Biden wins the three "Midwest" states that Trump unexpectedly won, Trump may finally get a wall, but it will be the blue wall that existed up until 2016. If Biden wins and pays attention to working-class whites in the Midwest and helps them with issues they care about, such as jobs and health care, the Midwest will be lost to the Republicans for years to come.

Second, the Southeast is changing. North Carolina is becoming a purple state and that may be a fairly quick phase until it turns blue, as happened in Virginia. In just two cycles, it may be as blue as Virginia due to the influx of people from out of state into the Research Triangle area, where there are many tech and financial companies that pull in college-educated professionals who are now largely Democrats. After North Carolina, the exploding population of Atlanta may make Georgia the next state to go purple, and maybe blue after that. Then there is Florida, which is a case unto itself. If the influx of New Yorkers into Miami-Dade and Broward Counties exceeds the influx of Midwesterners into Sumter County, home of The Villages, and the non-Cuban Latino population continues to grow rapidly, Florida could become more blue than purple.

Third, Arizona is on the verge of becoming a purple state. Most likely, after the election, Arizona's second Democratic senator will be sworn in and the Democrats might capture both the state House and state Senate. In 2022 there will be an open election for governor as Gov. Doug Ducey (R-AZ) is term limited. Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) might run. So might any of Arizona's five Democratic representatives. If the Democrats win that race and turn the state blue, the whole Southwest, from Colorado to the Pacific Ocean, except for Utah, will be blue.

If the Democrats take over most of the Upper Midwest, the entire Atlantic Coast except for South Carolina, and the Southwest, the Republicans will be left with the interior of the country, from Idaho to Alabama. But the Democrats will start with a base of about 350 electoral votes and the Republicans will start with a base of 164 electoral votes, with Ohio and Iowa as swing states. The map could look like this by 2024 or 2028:

Possible future map

If this is the baseline, the Republican Party will have a real problem and it won't be easy to solve. Cheating and dirty tricks won't be enough. To survive, the Party will have to change. But the process of change could tear it apart with a battle between the people who want a new and better version of Donald Trump and the people who want to go back to the party of Ronald Reagan. But no matter how that struggle ends, the Republicans are going to have to win back an appreciable number of states, and the demographics aren't working for the GOP. Its base is old and young people don't like the Party. From 1932 to 1948, the Democrats won five presidential elections in a row and the Republicans won in 1952 only because Dwight Eisenhower, who was a national hero, decided to run as a Republican. He could have run as a Democrat and won just as well. If Biden wins with 350 or so EVs or even 340 (the map on top of the page today with a near miss in Georgia), the RNC can do an autopsy as it did in 2012, but the cause of death is likely to be reported as "Too few people like what you are selling." (V)

Today's Presidential Polls

Joe Biden has led in every poll in Arizona since August except one and although his lead is small, it is very consistent. Ditto Florida. Most likely he really is ahead in both key states, but remember, in politics a week is a long time. The Georgia polls today are wildly different, even though both pollsters are widely respected. Probably we are just seeing statistical noise there. However, there is no doubt that Biden is ahead in Michigan and Pennsylvania, states Trump really can't afford to lose.

In the legend to the right of the map, at the bottom of the box are links for this date in 2016, 2012, and 2008. Today we have 13 presidential polls and six Senate polls. On Oct. 15, 2016, we had three presidential polls and three Senate polls. On Oct. 15, 2012, we had three presidential polls and no Senate polls. On Oct. 15, 2008, we had 12 presidential polls and three Senate polls. From a polling perspective, 2020 is looking more like 2008 than like 2012 or 2016. Checking out the previous cycles is interesting to get some perspective. For example, in 2008, Missouri was a swing state and Obama grabbed the lead on Oct. 15, 2008.

Starting today, when you click on a state name in the poll tables, the graph opens in a new tab. (V)

State Biden Trump Start End Pollster
Arizona 50% 46% Oct 07 Oct 14 Ipsos
Florida 47% 40% Oct 07 Oct 12 Clearview Research
Florida 49% 47% Oct 07 Oct 14 Ipsos
Florida 49% 47% Oct 11 Oct 12 St. Pete polls
Georgia 48% 46% Oct 08 Oct 12 SurveyUSA
Georgia 51% 44% Oct 08 Oct 12 Quinnipiac U.
Indiana 42% 49% Oct 08 Oct 13 SurveyUSA
Michigan 48% 39% Oct 08 Oct 12 EPIC-MRA
Montana 44% 51% Sep 14 Oct 02 Montana State U.
North Carolina 46% 42% Oct 09 Oct 13 Siena Coll.
New Hampshire 51% 41% Oct 08 Oct 12 Suffolk U.
Ohio 48% 47% Oct 08 Oct 12 Quinnipiac U.
Pennsylvania 49% 43% Oct 07 Oct 12 RMG Research

Today's Senate Polls

Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) is about to enter the history books as someone who lost two consecutive Senate elections. The bluing of Arizona combined with a very strong opponent did her in. Both Georgia Senate races are going to be nail biters. Montana as well. For the Democrats, a victory by Gov. Steve Bullock (D-MT) would mean that they could probably eliminate the filibuster, even if Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) votes against doing so, as Bullock could be the 52nd or 53rd Democrat in the Senate.

Probably the biggest news here is that Cal Cunningham has probably survived his sex scandal. Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) is expected to vote to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, and that is likely to be his final vote in the Senate. (V)

State Democrat D % Republican R % Start End Pollster
Arizona Mark Kelly 52% Martha McSally* 41% Oct 07 Oct 14 Ipsos
Georgia Jon Ossoff 43% David Perdue* 46% Oct 08 Oct 12 SurveyUSA
Georgia Jon Ossoff 51% David Perdue* 45% Oct 08 Oct 12 Quinnipiac U.
Montana Steve Bullock 49% Steve Daines* 47% Sep 14 Oct 02 Montana State U.
North Carolina Cal Cunningham 41% Thom Tillis* 37% Oct 09 Oct 13 Siena Coll.
New Hampshire Jeanne Shaheen* 51% Corky Messner 36% Oct 08 Oct 12 Suffolk U.

* Denotes incumbent

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Oct14 Barr "Unmasking" Probe Is a Dud
Oct14 Barrett Speaks Much, Says Little
Oct14 More Funny Feelings About 2020
Oct14 It's the Economy, Stupid
Oct14 Long Lines at Polling Places in Texas and Georgia
Oct14 Pennsylvania Women Sour on Trump
Oct14 Special Election in Georgia Is Getting Interesting
Oct14 Today's Presidential Polls
Oct14 Today's Senate Polls
Oct13 Let the Games Begin
Oct13 Trump Gets "Clean Bill of Health"
Oct13 Biden Win Could Be Called on Election Night
Oct13 Microsoft Shuts Down Hacking Operation
Oct13 California GOP Pushes the Envelope on Absentee Ballots
Oct13 Cunningham Situation Just Keeps Getting Worse
Oct13 COVID-19 Diaries: Open Water
Oct13 Today's Presidential Polls
Oct13 Today's Senate Polls
Oct12 Biden Leads Trump Nationally by 12 Points
Oct12 Time to Rewrite the History Books
Oct12 Absentee Vote So Far Favors the Democrats
Oct12 Drop Boxes Are the New Battleground
Oct12 Young People Aren't Sold on Voting Yet
Oct12 Biden Is Outspending Trump 50-to-1...on Radio
Oct12 Democrats Are Pushing the Flip Zone Outwards
Oct12 Senators Push Back on Coronavirus Relief Bill
Oct12 Cindy McCain Makes an Ad for Biden
Oct12 Mistakes Absentee Voters Make
Oct12 Changes in Polling Compared to 2016
Oct12 Jaime Harrison Breaks Fundraising Record
Oct12 Today's Presidential Polls
Oct12 Today's Senate Polls
Oct11 Sunday Mailbag
Oct11 Today's Presidential Polls
Oct11 Today's Senate Polls
Oct10 Second Debate Is Kaput
Oct10 Saturday Q&A
Oct10 Today's Presidential Polls
Oct10 Today's Senate Polls
Oct09 Takeaways from the Vice Presidential Debate
Oct09 Next Presidential Debate Will Be Virtual--If It Happens
Oct09 Whitmer Kidnapping Plot Is Foiled
Oct09 Trump Will Return to the Campaign Trail Next Week
Oct09 Appeals Court Rejects Extended Deadline for Receiving Ballots in Wisconsin...
Oct09 ...But District Court Smacks Down Ohio Ballot Box Policy
Oct09 Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball Has Biden over 270 Electoral Votes...
Oct09 ...And So Does CNN's Electoral College Outlook
Oct09 Pelosi Decides to Play a Little Hardball
Oct09 A Stand-Alone Bill to Bail Out the Airlines Is on the No-Fly List
Oct09 Trump Required His Doctors to Sign Nondisclosure Agreements in 2019