By Parveen Chopra
Managing Editor, The South Asian Times
New York: Given how hard it is to predict this race for the White House, one assertion can be made safely: President Trump would have won re-election comfortably but for two impediments: Covid-19, which is seeing a surge particularly in red and swing states right now, and former Vice President Joe Biden, who is seen as a moderate candidate from his party compared to say Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, and has given permission even to Republicans to ditch Trump.
That said, the polls continue to point to a comfortable Biden victory. On Thursday, the nonpartisan RCP National Average had Biden 7.7 points ahead of Trump nationally, and by 3.4 points in top 12 battlegrounds. A respected election analysis platform, Cook Political Report, went on to say Tuesday, “Time to sound the alarm on Biden’s likely victory”.
But wasn’t Hillary Clinton also ahead in polls a week before the 2016 election? Dave Wasserman, of Cook Report, makes the case that Biden has a better chance of beating Trump in 2020 than Hillary did in 2016 because: “First, Biden’s lead is larger and much more stable than Clinton’s was at this point. Second, there are far fewer undecided and third-party voters left to woo — reducing the chances of a late break toward one side.”
Top Democrats are optimistic that the election is swinging their way. Biden, like Hillary, is expected to win the national vote comfortably. As for the Electoral College, if most of the contested states fall in the blue column, it will be a blowout for Biden.
But Trump can spring a surprise a second time and defeat Biden. The enthusiasm and the size of crowds at his fast and furious rallies has to be seen to be believed. Two, pollsters have been undercounting the Trump voters and ‘the forgotten people”. Covid or not, they cite the Gallup poll early this year that found 61% of Americans are happier than they were before Trump took over. Yes, Trump scores better than Biden in surveys on handling the economy. Republicans also registered many more new voters compared to Democrats in key states like Arizona, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan, and have had a better ground game.
But ironically for Trump, his focus on winning re-election at any cost by underplaying the virus all along – which led to a surge in infections and deaths, and lockdowns hitting the economy—may prove his Waterloo. The successful nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court did not move the needle. The Hunter Biden deals scandal does not seem to have hurt Biden.
Even many people who largely think Trump is good for America are put off by his bile and bluster. Indian Americans who support him are ready to ignore that, arguing that he is good for India.
Trump’s untruths are a legion. Lately at campaign rallies he has claimed that Covid is blown out of proportion by his detractors for political reasons, and that it will be off the news headlines after November 3. That is not true. Covid is a global pandemic and is likely to remain the main concern of Americans for a year at least.
The November 3 election will also decide if Democrats are able to flip the US Senate; the House is expected to remain in their hands, they may even increase their majority if there is a blue wave. RCP and FiveThirtyEight predict a 1-seat majority for Democrats in the 100-member Senate. The Republicans are defending 23 seats compared to 12 for Democrats.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell himself conceded Wednesday that it is a “50-50″ battle. “It’s a 50-50 proposition. We have a lot of exposure. This is a huge Republican class. … There’s dogfights all over the country,” he said during a campaign stop in Kentucky.