It’s Election Day! This is a final look at the nature of the electoral map in this cycle, the closest battleground states, and finally the prediction for this year. Barring the possibility of widespread either voter manipulation or suppression, or even another bout of weak voter turnout, here are the likely results of this cycle’s presidential election.
Due to the surreal nature and circumstances of this year’s election, this post will again go through the presidential candidates and their platforms before examining the possible results for tonight.
Incumbent President Donald Trump is this year’s Republican nominee. Elected through a combination of stoking xenophobic fears, pandering to right-wing populist ideologies, and touting himself as an outsider that would stand up to Washington’s establishment elites, the Trump presidency so far has been a rollercoaster of historic controversies and scandals. However, his policy decisions have only left his most faithful supporters excited for more. 2020 has not been kind to Trump’s reelection bid, as not only was he impeached to kick off year, his mishandling of the Covid-19 pandemic and protests for social justice later this summer further sunk his approval ratings. Now facing an uphill reelection battle, Trump has again turned to his most base by running the same platform from 2016.
The Democratic nominee for president this year is Joe Biden, who served as Vice President for two terms under previous President Barack Obama. A beloved figure after he left office with Obama, Biden became a polarising figure when he decided to join the Democratic race for president, as the party’s more progressive wing rejected him for his past political baggage while moderates lauded him for his potential of reuniting the country again. After a rocky start to the primaries with accusations of party leaders favouring moderates more, Biden has since picked up the Democratic nomination and steadily climbed up polls nationwide. On the campaign trail, he has introduced a platform focused on Covid-19 recovery and affordable healthcare alongside a rhetoric centered on healing the nation following a Trump presidency.
Scenario A and Official Prediction: A Biden Win
As a majority of polls and other political indicators have shown, Biden is on a solid path to an electoral victory. Through aggregating numerous polls, the election forecast at FiveThirtyEight finalized its project yesterday listing Biden with an 89 percent chance to win, which has increased by nearly 20 percent when the forecast was first officially launched.
Various political commentators have also argued to treat polls with caution due to the many mistakes pundits have made in 2016. One of the oversights was the perceived prevalence of the ‘shy Trump voter,’ where polls favour Trump much more if respondents were asked who they think their neighbour would vote for rather than who they would vote for instead. But in this cycle, Biden has held a larger lead than Trump in nearly every key states. Polls have also made adjustments to better reflect the electorate, such as adjusting weighting based on education and finding new ways to reach respondents. Even if the election shifted away from the polls like the way the election shifted from 2016, Biden would still win the presidency.
Biden has multiple paths to victory, but the most likely results will show him winning back the states that Clinton lost four years ago, such as Rust Belt States including Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, where these states were carried by Trump through the slimmest of margins. Key wins in the Sun Belt such as Arizona, North Carolina, and most importantly, Florida will also propel Biden to a safe election victory.
Scenario B: A Biden Landslide
With most signs pointing in the direction of a Biden victory, there is a large possibility that Biden would not only win a landslide popular vote, but in the electoral college as well.
One of the factors that has popularised the discussion of a Biden landslide is the potential of Texas turning blue this year. With the second-most electoral votes in the nation and considered to be a write-off for Republicans in general elections, Texas has become a swing state. Of course, this has not gone by the Biden camp unnoticed, and he has poured in millions in campaign funds in Texas to further boost his chances in the Lone Star State.
If the Democrats carry Texas, the election can be considered over. In this rout of the Electoral College, it is almost certain that Democrats would also lock up swing states that have teetered on the edge for Trump, including Georgia, Iowa, and Ohio.
Scenario C: A Trump Win
The high likelihood of the scenarios above does not mean that Biden’s path to victory is set in stone, as Trump still has a chance, and several paths too, of winning the election. To win a second term, it is imperative for Trump to carry Arizona, Florida, and Pennsylvania. The election would have to progress in almost near-perfect fashion for Trump, as he would also need major wins in both the Rust and Sun Belt. Essentially, he will need the political factors missed by pollsters in 2016 to favour him again in this scenario.
Scenario D: A Trump Landslide
While Trump’s chances of reelection are slim this cycle, there is still the likelihood that a Trump victory could translate to a landslide. In this scenario, Trump would not only win every state he has won in 2016, but also states that were carried by Clinton. While polls from swing states in the Rust and Sun Belt have given Biden robust leads, they are still within range of an upset come election day. This map shows the Electoral College if Trump manages to take all of the swing states in the Midwest and in the South.
Aside from four likely results listed above, models have presented even more outcomes such as nail-biters decided by single states, even more lopsided landslides, and even the possibility of Electoral College winner. In an already-bizarre election happening on the backdrop of a pandemic, nothing short of a landslide will allow observers to go bed early tonight.