Based on what’s happening this very moment, I would say it’s impossible to really be sure which way the November election is going to go.
The current poll numbers don’t look good for Trump. They look downright abysmal on a national scale, but actually look better in swing states now than they did four years ago. Joe Biden has some trouble where the protests in our cities are concerned, and it looks like those ultra-progressive activists are going to end up doing more harm than good.
Still, bad interviews like the one he had on Monday evening show that Trump is as scatterbrained as ever and, despite a good speech at the Republican National Convention, he still seems to have no sense of direction when it comes to messaging.
But the difference between a Biden victory and a Trump victory is less about who is more likely to pick up the middle of the road voters and more about who is more likely to scare them off. Both candidates have a clear base of supporters who are willing to support them. They both have a clear segment of voters who will vote for them in order to keep the other guy from winning. What is unknown is who will pick up the voters that are scared to death of both sides and need to find the lesser of two evils.
Despite what some pundits may tell you, neither side really has a chance to expand their base. At this point, it’s pretty much locked in that the bases are going to vote. Both parties are highly motivated. The problem is that people who aren’t a part of either side’s base have a hell of a choice in front of them, and right now I get the sense that they will stick with Trump rather than flip to Biden.
And, yes, I said “stick with Trump.” Many of these voters are the ones who voted for Trump in 2016 because they simply did not like Hillary Clinton. And while Trump as a person is pretty repugnant to a lot of these voters, his negatives were baked into that particular equation four years ago. There’s no reason to suspect they aren’t already baked into the equation now.
Biden is immensely more likeable than both Clinton and Trump, and that is what we see in the polls right now. However, Trump actually saw a bump in the polling after the Democratic National Convention and outside of COVID-19 and the economy crumbling after it, most people admit they were better off after Trump than before him. The COVID-19 crisis and economic recovery will play a huge part in the election, but signs are still pointing to a better future with regard to both.
I think Biden running as a continuation and extension of the Obama era was the best play to get him the Democratic nomination, but it is very much a double-edged sword in the parts of the country that went with Trump in 2016. While the former Vice President does appeal to blue-collar workers where neither Barack Obama nor Hillary Clinton could, the fact is that his party fully embraced those other two, and they were perfectly fine taking away their jobs.
It is far too early to definitively say that Trump will win in November, but there are so many factors that don’t necessarily mirror 2016 but come across as similar enough to make you stop and think.
All of this assumes that Trump can stay on message and convince the American people that his focus on law and order, jobs, and economic recovery will do more for people than Biden’s five decades in Washington D.C. ever did. That’s not guaranteed.