5. The Senate is the thing:
President Donald Trump’s hopes of winning a second term are, well, slim. (See MUCH more on that below.) Which, for Republicans, puts even more pressure on the ongoing fight to keep control of the Senate and, thereby, avoid total Democratic control come 2021.
Most neutral political handicappers see Republicans on the losing end of this fight.
Republican-held seats in Colorado and Arizona seem lost. Maine’s Susan Collins (R) and North Carolina’s Thom Tillis (R) are both slight underdogs heading into Election Day. The Iowa race between Sen. Joni Ernst (R) and Theresa Greenfield (D) seems like the purest toss-up on the board. Both Georgia races as well as Montana, South Carolina and Kansas are also considered competitive.
Democrats are likely to lose only one seat: Alabama Sen. Doug Jones (D) seems headed for defeat.
4. It’s (still) the coronavirus election:
While Trump continues to sell a false idea about the state of our fight against the virus, even some of his most loyal allies are admitting that things are not as he claims them to be.
Trump’s isolation — from facts and even some of his own closest political allies — on Covid-19 is clear. And if he loses on Tuesday — as seems likely — that defeat will rightly be laid at the feet of his botched handling of this pandemic.
3. The early vote is the story:
It’s impossible to overstate just how stunning the early vote numbers we are seeing across the country actually are.
In both Texas and Hawaii, more people have voted early in 2020 than voted in total in 2016. And 35 states (and Washington, DC) have crossed their halfway marks for total 2016 ballots cast, including 13 of CNN’s 16 most competitively ranked states — Texas, Georgia, North Carolina, Nevada, Florida, Arizona, Colorado, Wisconsin, Maine, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and Nebraska.
Given the polling that suggests Democrats are far more likely than Republicans to vote early, those huge early vote numbers should give former Vice President Joe Biden a lead among banked votes prior to Tuesday.
The question then becomes whether Trump’s turnout operation can match the high numbers we’ve seen in early voting. (Trump’s team has invested heavily in day-of turnout operations while Biden’s side leaned toward an early vote emphasis.)
2. Joe Biden’s easiest path to victory:
Unlike President Donald Trump, who has a very narrow set of paths (path?) to get to 270 electoral votes (see below), Joe Biden has a slew of ways to get to that magic number.
Here’s his easiest route to the presidency.
Start with the 203 electoral votes that are regarded as solidly in Biden’s camp. Then give him Nevada (6 electoral votes) and Colorado (9) where demographics are trending hard away from Trump’s version of conservatism. That’s 218 electoral votes.
Which brings us to Pennsylvania and its 20 electoral votes. If Biden wins the state where he was born, that’s 274 electoral votes — and the White House.
Such a scenario would allow Biden to lose Florida, Georgia, Texas, Arizona, Iowa and Ohio and still be elected president. Like I said, he’s got a lot of paths to the White House.
1. Donald Trump’s only(?) path to victory:
President Trump is, without question, an underdog — and a clear one — going into Tuesday’s election. But, a long shot is not a no shot.
And there is a somewhat plausible — emphasis on “somewhat” — electoral map that gets him to 270 electoral votes and a second term.
Here’s how: Give Trump the 125 electoral votes that are solidly in his camp, centered in the upper Plains states and the South.
Then give him battleground states that have traditionally favored Republicans at the presidential level: Texas (38 electoral votes), Georgia (16), Ohio (18) and Arizona (11). That gets Trump to 208 electoral votes.
No Republican has won the White House in nearly a century without winning Florida, and for Trump to win he needs the Sunshine State — and its 29 electoral votes — too. Which gets Trump to 237 total.
Yes, the above scenario has a lot of “ifs” in it. And would require Trump to pull the sort of inside straight he did four years ago. But it isn’t impossible to imagine it happening — even if it’s far from the likeliest scenario.