And neither has to do with who’s winning head-to-head Trump vs. Biden
The Economist proclaims:
“Our presidential election forecast finds that Democrats might have to win the national popular vote by 3 percentage points or more to be favored to win the electoral college“
No big surprise there: Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by a little less than that when she lost. And the Economist’s head-to-head predictions at the moment show both a landslide electoral win by Trump or a landslide electoral win by Biden being well within the range of possibility. Which is also a good argument for why this kind of thing isn’t really worth paying attention to right now.
Also, while they’re technically right, they’re wrong. Biden’s popular vote margin needs to be even more than that. Way more.
Enough to ensure Trump won’t be able to cry “voter fraud” and launch all kinds of schemes to keep himself in office. So what we need to be looking at is not if Biden is ahead by 3% or more, but is Biden ahead by 6-10% or more? That’s the range we should be looking for. That’s more like the number.
That’d probably be a good margin in the polls to almost render Trump completely beatable electoral college-wise, and voter-suppression wise, and Trump crying foul-wise, and fair-weather friends (beyond Fox, OANN and a few members of Congress who will be willing to set themselves on fire for Trump anyway) jumping on the bandwagon for whatever bull crap the President puts forward-wise.
The second indicator involves whether Republicans continue to face real challenges in races for Senate or House seats, particularly in swing states or Red states. Even if they’re winning, but not by enough not to be a bit worried they could lose.
There’s been little political downside thus far (except perhaps in some traditionally Red districts in California in 2018), to remain completely glued to Trump’s coat tails. But Republican Senators and Representatives really want to be re-elected. They may even feel getting themselves re-elected is even more important than getting the President re-elected, if it looks like they’ll have to make that choice. Meaning if they start seeing clinging to the President as a threat to their job, they could start separating a bit, and maybe even dropping off.
At first, it’d be a trickle, but if those races remain competitive, you could start seeing a lot of politicians suddenly not calling on the President for the assist. Even if they never speak out against him outright.
It’ll take a lot for that to happen in a widespread way. And there’s no guarantee voter sentiment will continue going in the direction it seems to be going now. Or even if it does, will it ever go far enough? Because a narrow win is still a win.
But if Republican candidates start changing their tune even a little bit, that could be an early and firm indicator, and the surest sign the dominoes might be starting to fall.
One more thing that’s not in our top two right now, but also on our radar: how well Republican-dominated states are doing with absentee or mail-in ballots or whatever you want to call them. Demand for those is going to be up in most places that allow them. And what’s happening in a lot of those states is voting officials are using a surge in absentee ballots as an excuse to shut actual polling places down. Which is fine and good.
But not before they’ve proven they’re going to actually be able to get ballots to people in the mail on time. Which they haven’t in many cases. And if they don’t, the only alternative a voter has usually is to go and show up in person. Only now there won’t really be very many places to do that. And where would that hurt the most? Crowded cities, where people tend to favor Democrats.
Republicans in some cases have stopped making it a secret that voter suppression is part of their formula for winning, so if this kind of thing keeps happening on a large scale, like it just did in Georgia, and might next week in Kentucky, (which has a Democratic governor but a Republican secretary of state), makes you wonder…