Biden is winning nationally — but the states actually decide. Here's what they're telling us

Biden is winning nationally — but the states actually decide. Here's what they're telling us
Former Vice President of the United States Joe Biden speaking with supporters at a community event at Sun City MacDonald Ranch in Henderson, Nevada. // Gage Skidmore

We've been checking into the state polling every Thursday for several months, and it's hard to believe, but we're out of Thursdays! I'll do one more of these on Monday or Tuesday, but we're pretty much at the end. Nothing much will change the dynamics of the race anymore. It'll all come down to 1) can we get our core vote to vote, and 2) where do the dwindling set of undecideds land. The answer to those two questions will determine whether we have an Electoral College landslide victory with an early evening call, or weeks and months of chaos, legal uncertainty, and violence. The Proud Boys are, after all, standing by.

We always start with a look at the national poll trends, using The Economist's polling aggregate.

(The Economist)

As you can see merely eyeballing the chart above, nothing much has happened since late August. The top-line numbers—54.2-45.8 are pretty much the same numbers we had in early June. You want to see something fun? Let's compare the chart above to Civiqs' chart of Trump's approval ratings over the last year:

It's the same freakin' trend. I've written before that all you have to do is add two-points to Trump's approval rating to get his share of the Biden-Trump vote in Civiqs polling. (Here's is our 50-state map of Trump approval ratings, if you want to play the game.) There is direct correlation.

Back to the aggregate, Joe Biden has an 8.4-point lead in the national polling. Last week it was 8.6 points, so for all intents and purposes, nothing has moved. And why would it? We are so polarized at this point, that it's hard to imagine anything having a measurable impact anymore. We're approaching a quarter million dead from the coronavirus pandemic, and Trump's numbers have barely budged. But in the same token, what could Trump say to start winning back some of that support? That's why this Hunter Biden laptop nonsense is so patently ridiculous. Even if it was true, and it's not, no one gives a shit.

One last note before we get to the polls, please don't say stupid shit like "ignore the polls!" and "act like we're 10 points down!" We are the reality-based community. We don't ignore data, and we certainly don't create an alternate reality. It amazes me how conservatives can't handle bad news, and liberals can't handle good news. The reason we have opportunities to win tough races like Senate seats in Texas, Kansas, Alaska, Iowa, and Georgia is because Biden is doing this well. That's not a bad thing or a reason to be scared. It's a reason to get excited, because only a few points separate an okay night from a good night from the best night ever. There is no excuse for complacency because there are races we are legitimately behind in, that we can only win if we out-hustle Republicans on the ground.

As usual, we start with our baseline map.

As I say every week, I think Alaska is a battleground, but the polling isn't validating my gut instinct, so it remains red on this map.
STATEELECTORAL
VOTES

ECONOMIST
POLL AGGREGATE

WEEKLY
CHANGE

TOTAL
BASELINE--232-125
MICHIGAN16Biden +8.0

+1.0

248-125
WISCONSIN10Biden +8.0+1.4258-125
NEBRASKA-011Biden +6.5-259-125
PENNSYLVANIA20Biden +6.2+0.4279-125
FLORIDA29Biden +3.2-0.2308-125
ARIZONA11Biden +3.0-0.2319-125
NORTH CAROLINA15Biden +2.4-334-125
MAINE-021Biden +3.0+1.0335-125
GEORGIA16Biden +0.6+0.6351-125
IOWA6Biden +0.2+2.0357-125
OHIO18Trump +1.4-0.2357-143
TEXAS38Trump +2.2-0.2357-181

All in all, a great week for Biden in the key battlegrounds. Iowa flipped (barely) from a narrow Trump win to the narrowest Biden one. More importantly, the Big Three—Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin all trended up for him. If Biden wins these three, it's over. He's got it. So as things currently stand, Trump would have to overcome a six-point deficit in Pennsylvania merely to stay in the game.

After Pennsylvania, things get closer, and this is where we really need to work hard to nail these states down. Political Campaigning 101 says that a good ground game can be worth three points in the final results. Look at all these states—everything from Florida on down is within that three-point spread.

The work we put in to get the final vote out can be the difference between a 279-259 victory, with Trump's lawyers trying to sow chaos and discord in Pennsylvania, trying to throw out legitimately cast votes hoping their illegitimate Supreme Court pulls another Bush v. Gore, or a 413-125 historic walloping that puts an early end to the night and squashes any conservative efforts to steal the election.

Not to mention, there are seven Senate pickups possible in those presidential battlegrounds. Given that we need to pick up net-three seats, the more we maximize our performance in those states, the better our chances to have a real and transformative Senate majority.

Finally, I really want to highlight the GOP's dilemma heading into future cycles.

The top six 2016 red states, by electoral votes, are all battlegrounds: Texas (38), Florida (29), Pennsylvania (20), Ohio (18), Georgia (16), and North Carolina (15). Their largest safe red state is Indiana (11).

Of those, it's safe to say that Ohio is trending red, and maybe Pennsylvania. But Texas, Georgia, and North Carolina are clearly trending blue, and Florida is Florida. I'm just going to assume it'll remain 50-50 forever, but really, demographically, it's a blue state.

The modern GOP can't function as a national party if Ohio and Pennsylvania are their anchors, particularly since they're both likely losing seats during reapportionment. Who will gain? Texas, Florida, Arizona, North Carolina … you get the point.

There is something real and special happening this year. We are all part of history. And the hard work of every single one of us, of you, has gotten us to this point, on the precipice of transformative change. So don't let up now, so close to the finish line. Let's finish strong.

Leave nothing on the road.

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