US presidential election – Trump can overcome history

US presidential election – Trump can overcome history
US presidential election – Trump can overcome history

Hans Olav Lahlum
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On September 3, Donald was around 7 percentage points behind the Democratic candidate Joe Biden. In the last 70 years, no presidential candidate in the United States has won after being so far behind two months before election day. The situation became even more disturbing for Trump because the polls so far had been more stable than in any previous presidential election campaign: Biden’s lead was within 6-8 percentage points through July and August and remained close to 7 in September, while more and more people decided.

Trump had built up high expectations that he would outclass the three-year-old and allegedly age-challenged challenger in the first presidential debate on September 29. It was a risky strategy based on previous achievements: Biden has always enjoyed much better in duel debates, and according to the polls won the vice presidential debates in both 2008 and 2012. In 2016, Trump had his strongest exercise as a public speaker at mass rallies with supporters, and clearly lost in all three TV duels against Hillary Clinton.

When he finally stood there in his first televised debate as president, there was no visible level rise, neither in style nor content. Trump appeared at least as confrontational and undisciplined as in 2016: The most conspicuous were still constant interruptions, unjustified personal attacks and repeated factual errors. Biden too often agreed to Trump’s verbal mudslinging, but still appeared more presidential than the president. Perhaps the most important thing was what did not happen: Biden showed no signs of failing physical or mental health. The measurements afterwards differed only in how clearly the challenger won.

POPULAR: President Donald Trump is far behind in the polls, but he can still win, believes Hans Olav Lahlum. Photo: Jonathan Ernst / Reuters / NTB
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JUPITER, FLORIDA – SEPTEMBER 08: President Donald Trump gestures as he leaves after speaking about the environment during a stop at the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse on September 08, 2020 in Jupiter, Florida. President Trump announced an expansion of a ban on offshore drilling and highlighted conservation projects in Florida. President Trump faces off against Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden for the presidency. Joe Raedle/Getty Images/AFP
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October got off to an abrupt start with disappointing financial figures – and with the president and first lady testing positive for Covid-19. The situation where one of the presidential candidates became infected with a potentially serious illness during the election campaign was unique in US political history. The uncertainty was great, and many Trump supporters hoped for a sympathy effect.

When it emerged that many others in his circle had tested positive as a result of irresponsible infection control routines, the case instead became a reminder of the Trump administration’s failed crisis management. After Trump came out of the hospital, he showed no new empathy with the corona victims, but instead used himself as an example that the disease was not so dangerous. Within a few days, Biden’s lead jumped to 9-10 percentage points.

Two and a half weeks before election day, Trump’s prospects are far more bleak than what was the case at the same time in 2016. He is much further behind, far more have decided and far fewer have a very negative impression of the opponent. Demographics have changed so that a lower proportion of voters are in the groups where Trump has the most support. No president of the last 70 years has been re-elected with such low personal popularity or such high unemployment. Biden has also broken all records for fundraising in recent months and has clearly greater resources in recent weeks.

An election landslide where Biden gets up to 55 percent of the vote and more than 350 of the 538 voters seem more likely than Trump to win. Most prediction models now give Biden an 80-90 percent chance of winning. Maybe someone is making too many reservations now because the shock of Trump’s very unexpected election victory in 2016 is still strong. But it is still important to remember his crucial “Trump card” from that time: US presidential elections are decided by a constituency and not by the vote nationally.

TWO WORLDS: While Joe Biden is careful about infection control rules during his election campaign, the situation is completely different at Donald Trump’s public meetings. Video / photo: NTB / AP
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Republicans have won three of the last seven presidential elections, although they have only received a majority of the votes in one of the elections. The national opinion polls missed only 1-2 percentage points in 2016, but there were far greater deviations in several important tipping states. Thus, most experts underestimated the possibility that Trump with narrow victories there could win the election with significantly fewer votes. Trump won in 2016 by 2.1 percentage points fewer votes. Probably the Democrats must now have up to 3 percentage points more votes to have a 50-50 chance of winning a majority of the voters.

The Democrats lead big in all the 20 states they won in 2016. The polls have for a long time also shown a big lead in Michigan, where Trump won by two per mille margin in 2016. If Biden wins there, he only needs two more tipping states to be secured election winner. The most obvious candidates are Wisconsin and Pennsylvania – two rust belt states that Trump won by less than a 1 percentage point margin in 2016, after Democrats had won them in every election since the 1980s.

It may seem safe when Biden now leads by 7-8 percentage points in both. Pennsylvania is also the state he was born in and has added his campaign headquarters. In 2016, however, the polls underestimated Trump by just over 7 percentage points in Wisconsin and just over 2.5 in Pennsylvania.

The Democrats’ “blue wall” of states to ensure a secure election winner is apparently quite high this year, but at the same time it is narrow: If Trump can surprise with a victory in Wisconsin or Pennsylvania, it opens up that he can win by about 5 percentage points fewer votes on a national basis.

Biden must then win in Florida, Arizona or North Carolina, where he only leads by 2-4 percentage points – possibly in Ohio or Georgia, where it is perfectly even. Biden gets more match points, but is unlikely to win either Ohio or Georgia if he loses to Wisconsin or Pennsylvania. If Trump loses early on election night in his new home state of Florida, there are only theoretical possibilities that he can be re-elected. But if Trump lands a new trick victory both there and in North Carolina, Biden will probably need two out of three in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Arizona. Then it can be not only a thriller on election night, but also during the coming days’ postal vote count.

– KLOVN: A clearly annoyed Joe Biden called Donald Trump a “clown” after repeated interruptions in tonight’s presidential debate.
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Republicans have so far not met their hopes for a development similar to 1968 and 1988, when their conservative law and order line prevailed in turbulent election years. The similarities are more striking back to 1932, when the sugar-rich business leader Herbert Hoover, due to his passive and unempathetic attitude to the ongoing crisis, had become a very unpopular president. Hoover clearly lost, after increasingly desperate accusations against the opponent throughout the election campaign. Franklin D. Roosevelt was undoubtedly a larger format candidate than Joe Biden is. In 1932, however, the later father of the country won most because he was not President Hoover – and despite uncertainty about his own health.

Trumps aggressive anklager about election fraud quickly brings to mind back to 2000. That was the year the election was decided by a margin of just over 500 votes in Florida – after a one-vote majority in the Supreme Court became decisive for the counting method there. In a long historical perspective, there are thought-provoking similarities back to 1876: It triggered violent sentiments and threats of military insurgency in a highly polarized United States, when Democrat Sam Tilden lost even though he had won 51 percent of the vote – because one-vote margin from Supreme Court justices a couple of months of intricacies gave Florida and two other highly controversial states the Republican candidate.

It is still not inconceivable that Joe Biden could have a similar fate in 2020, although it is clearly most likely now that he will win.

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