The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion The chances of a blowout are high

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden delivers a speech at a local theater in Wilmington, Del., on Sept. 27. (Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images)

While the conventional wisdom seems to be that the election will be very close, opening up all sorts of mischief from President Trump, his attorney general and Republicans, let’s look at the facts. They suggest this race is not close.

The most recent Washington Post-ABC News poll shows former vice president Joe Biden leading by 10 points — a huge margin — with voting already underway. The New York Times-Siena College poll shows Biden with an eight-point lead. By historic standards, a presidential election with such a lead in the popular vote would be somewhere between “commanding” and a “blowout.”

Contrary to conventional wisdom (in sync with my own suspicion), the Supreme Court opening is revving up Democrats. As The Post reports, “64 percent of Biden supporters say the court vacancy makes it ‘more important’ that he win the election, compared with 37 percent of Trump supporters who say the same about their candidate.” In the New York Times-Siena polling, the court fight looks like a loser for Trump and his Republican enablers. Per the Times: “56 percent said they preferred to have the election act as a sort of referendum on the vacancy. Only 41 percent said they wanted Mr. Trump to choose a justice before November.” Worse still:

More striking, the voters Mr. Trump and endangered Senate Republicans must reclaim to close the gap in the polls are even more opposed to a hasty pick: 62 percent of women, 63 percent of independents and 60 percent of college-educated white voters said they wanted the winner of the campaign to fill the seat.
The warning signs for Republicans are also stark on the issue of abortion, on which Judge Barrett, a fiercely conservative jurist, could offer a pivotal vote should she be confirmed: 60 percent of those surveyed believe abortion should be legal all or some of the time.

The Affordable Care Act, which Republicans are counting on the Supreme Court to gut, also remains very popular (57 to 38), according to the Times-Siena poll.

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In the presidential race, Biden is doing better — much better in some cases — with groups Hillary Clinton lost big. The Post reports: “Biden leads among White women with college degrees by 41 points and is almost even among White women without degrees. In 2016, Clinton lost White women without college degrees by 23 points.” Biden’s improvement both with Whites without college degrees and college-educated Whites is remarkable. (“Clinton won college-graduate voters overall by 21 points in Pew’s survey of confirmed voters, and she lost those without a college education by seven points. Today, Biden is ahead among college-educated voters overall by 30 points and narrowly behind among those without college degrees, by six points.”) Biden also leads among older voters, a reverse of 2016.

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The New York Times-Siena polls shows similar results. “Mr. Biden is winning 60 percent of white women with college degrees, compared with 34 percent for Mr. Trump, and he is beating the president among men with college degrees, 50 percent to 45 percent,” the pollsters found. “Four years ago, according to exit polls, Ms. Clinton won college-educated white women by only seven percentage points and lost college-educated white men to Mr. Trump by 14 points.”

These big margins are showing up in key state polls as well. Biden’s lead in the FiveThirtyEight averages is about seven points in Michigan and Wisconsin, about five in Pennsylvania and about 3.5 in Arizona. Biden is statistically tied in states Trump won easily in 2016 and should have wrapped up weeks ago. (e.g., North Carolina, Florida, Texas, Georgia).

Polls can be wrong, but many polls would have to be really wrong to provide comfort to Republicans. The candidates are set to debate Tuesday — although Trump, in meltdown mode, is hollering for Biden to take a drug test before or after. (Maybe Biden should agree, if Trump releases his tax returns.) Biden could, I guess, have an outing so terrible as to alarm voters. Barring that and noting that voting is well underway in many states, Biden is the heavy favorite at this point. Republicans down ticket should worry about Trump dragging them over the cliff into political oblivion.

Note: I will be off Monday in observation of Yom Kippur.

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Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) argues that the Democratic Party needs to present policies that appeal to nonvoters who do not feel either party represents them. (Video: The Washington Post, Photo: Jose Sanchez / AP/The Washington Post)

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