The national political landscape has clearly and significantly shifted in Joe Biden’s favor since he emerged as the Democratic Party’s presumptive nominee back in March just as the public health emergency was taking hold.
Given the continuing widespread coronavirus pandemic, the persistent economic devastation millions of Americans are experiencing in its wake and President Donald Trump’s inability to wrest control of the crisis in the minds of a majority of Americans, it is probably not all that surprising that his reelection chances have taken a substantial hit.
Perhaps the more surprising development is that nothing Trump and his campaign team have tried over the last two months to turn those fortunes around seems to be working. And they have certainly tried.
From launching a law-and-order message in the face of mostly peaceful protests for racial justice, to Trump shaking up the campaign by demoting his campaign manager, to a short-lived attempt at having the President portray himself as a leader in command of the Covid-19 response, the race for the White House has continued to move in Biden’s direction.
While the cliché is true that the three months from now until Election Day is an eternity in American politics and the race is almost certain to tighten, it is also true that Americans are just six weeks away from beginning to cast ballots and the defining characteristic of this presidential race thus far is Trump’s failed leadership in managing the coronavirus pandemic and an inability to convince enough of the public that Biden is an unacceptable alternative.
Whatever thin cushion existed for Trump’s reelection prospects at the start of this election year has completely evaporated. The President’s path to 270 electoral votes is as narrow as it has ever been. For his part, former Vice President Biden is shoring up some traditionally blue-leaning battleground states, expanding the 2020 battleground map into what has recently been more Republican leaning terrain, and opening up multiple pathways to victory.
Based on public and private polling, where the campaigns are placing their strategic bets with millions of advertising dollars, where the candidates and their surrogates are spending time in person or virtually, conversations with Trump and Biden campaign advisers, Republican and Democratic political operatives, members of Congress, and political professionals involved with outside groups, our current Electoral College outlook reflects that substantial movement in Biden’s direction.
Since our last outlook, we have moved five states (and one congressional district) in the direction of the Democrat. Michigan and Pennsylvania, two states Trump won in 2016 that had been reliably blue for the better part of two decades in presidential elections, are being moved from battleground to lean Democrat, placing an additional 36 electoral votes to Biden’s total. We’ve also moved Virginia from lean Democrat to solid Democrat as the demographics and population shifts in the commonwealth continue to trend away from Republicans and both campaigns appear to be disinclined to spend substantial dollars competing there.
In addition, Georgia, Ohio and Maine’s 2nd Congressional District had all been leaning in Trump’s favor in our last outlook and have now all been moved to the battleground category, which reduces Trump’s electoral vote count by 35 votes.
In this new outlook, Trump starts with a solid base of 125 electoral votes from 20 states that are most likely to be uncontested in the fall. When you combine that base of solid states with the additional 45 electoral votes that are currently leaning in his direction, it brings Trump’s total to 170 electoral votes — 100 votes away from reelection.
Biden’s quest for the White House starts with a solid base of 203 electoral votes from 16 states and the District of Columbia. When you add in the 65 electoral votes that are leaning in his direction, it brings his total to 268 electoral votes — just 2 away from winning the presidency.
That leaves us with six states and a congressional district worth a total of 100 electoral votes that will likely prove decisive in selecting the direction the country heads in for the next four years: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Maine’s 2nd Congressional District, North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin.
If Biden were to win everything in dark or light blue on this map, Donald Trump would need to run the table and win every single battleground to get reelected.
Alabama (9), Alaska (3), Arkansas (6), Idaho (4), Indiana (11), Kansas (6), Kentucky (8), Louisiana (8), Mississippi (6), Missouri (10), Montana (3), Nebraska (4), North Dakota (3), Oklahoma (7), South Carolina (9), South Dakota (3), Tennessee (11), Utah (6), West Virginia (5), Wyoming (3) (125 total)
Iowa (6), Nebraska 2nd Congressional District (1), Texas (38) (45 total)
Arizona (11), Florida (29), Georgia (16), Maine 2nd Congressional District (1), North Carolina (15), Ohio (18), Wisconsin (10) (100 total)
Colorado (9), Michigan (16), Minnesota (10), New Hampshire (4), Nevada (6), Pennsylvania (20) (65 total)
California (55), Connecticut (7), Delaware (3), DC (3), Hawaii (4), Illinois (20), Maine (3), Maryland (10), Massachusetts (11), New Jersey (14), New Mexico (5), New York (29), Oregon (7), Rhode Island (4), Vermont (3), Virginia (13), Washington (12) (203 total)
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