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What Joe Biden's Historic Lead Means Right Now

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | June 25, 2020 |

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | June 25, 2020 |


We are 131 days away from election day now, or a little more than four months. Going into the 4th of July weekend, the numbers for Joe Biden vs. Donald Trump are unreal, particularly for a country as polarized as we are right now. According to the latest NYTimes/Sienna poll, Joe Biden is up by 14 points nationally. But what about the electoral college, because ultimately, that’s what really matters.

Biden holds a commanding lead there, too.

These are supposedly “swing” states, and meanwhile, Trump’s campaign is diverting money and resources to places like Texas and Ohio, which were thought to be firmly red. But according to polling averages, Biden is leading in states like Georgia, and some red states are turning purple:

Let’s put that into perspective. How does Biden’s lead compare to previous elections four months out?

It also appears that Trump is dragging down the Senate, as well. GOP Senator Martha McSally is getting shredded in Arizona, losing in the polls to Mark Kelly by 9 points. The Democrat is up by 10 points in Michigan; and GOP incumbent Thom Tillis is down by 3 in North Carolina. Meanwhile, while it is still a huge longshot, don’t rule out the possibility that Lindsey Graham and Mitch McConnell could go down — they are in deep red states, but there are really good candidates running against them, Jaime Harrison and what looks like Charles Booker, respectively.

Awesome! But what does it all mean?!

As our friend Matt Goldberg notes, “Dukakis was up by 17 points in the summer of 1988,” and it’s not like G.W. Bush was a particularly good candidate (see, e.g., 1992). And if anyone is prone to a gaffe like the one that sunk the Dukakis campaign, it’s Biden.

Obviously, there are still concerns, like: What happens when Joe Biden starts to talk? Out loud. Where people can hear him? Hopefully, nothing, because Biden gaffes are NOT THE SAME AS VOTING FOR AN AUTOCRATIC SUPER VILLAIN BIGOT. There’s still the matter of running mate, too (and Tammy Duckworth — who is fantastic — has been added to the list and is being vetted). Biden’s got to thread the needle here, and hopefully please moderates, progressives, and Black voters without alienating those independents and conservatives that have jumped Trump ship.

However, the biggest concern continues to be delegitimizing the election. Trump has continued to cast aspersions on the mail-in ballot process, and that could prove very dangerous. People casting ballots via the mail is probably going to be the predominant way that votes will be cast this November, especially as virus cases are spiking again.

Here’s where it could get very dicey: What if Trump pulls out a narrow, Electoral college win based only on in-person votes on election night, but is otherwise blown out once mail-in ballots are counted in subsequent days? That’s where Trump’s efforts to delegitimize mail-in ballots gets very worrisome, because that is a very possible scenario. Take, for instance, the Democratic primary in Kentucky this week. On election night, Amy McGrath had a lead so commanding from in-person ballots that I didn’t even think it was a race, despite the fact that no one was calling it. That race, however, turned around real quick when mail-in ballots from the cities started arriving:

If we see a reproduction of that nationwide this November, where Trump holds a lead for two or three days while we await all the ballots to come in in the swing states, we could be in some real trouble. Because Trump will spend the entire time between election night and the time that the ballots are counted to declare victory, and treat every other ballot that comes in as fraudulent. His dwindling base will back him up, and when Biden is finally declared the actual winner, the country will devolve into chaos.

In other words: 14 points is not enough. In 2020, against Donald Trump? Fourteen points is within the margin of error.

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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