Trump is trailing, according to FiveThirtyEight’s averages, by about 3.5 points in both Arizona and Florida and three points in North Carolina. He cannot afford to lose any of them. He is also in a statistical tie with Biden in Ohio, Texas, Iowa and Georgia. (Imagine if a Democrat were tied in Maryland, Connecticut, New Jersey and Vermont while trailing in Nevada, Colorado and New Hampshire.)
Such an extensive election map lead with a huge money advantage is every campaign operative’s dream. (Biden started October with $177 million on hand, compared with $63 million for Trump.) Trump, on the other hand, has too many holes in the dike, with too little time and too few resources to plug them. Moreover, he has no compelling reason to change voters’ minds. He wastes time hollering about indecipherable conspiracy plots; whining that CBS’s Lesley Stahl was mean to him; joining supporters in a “lock her up” chant against popular Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D); and trying to minimize a pandemic that has killed more than 220,000 Americans.
News reports quote Republicans who want Trump to focus on “policy.” What policy? We have sky-high unemployment with no stimulus bill likely to get a vote before the election. There remains no cohesive national plan for testing, tracing and social distancing enforcement. Trump still has no health-care plan. He never passed an infrastructure bill. His immigration “policy” resulted in thousands of children being separated from their parents and left 545 of them permanently orphaned. I do not see a policy achievement he might brag about.
Meanwhile, Biden has the luxury of chasing every swing voter in every competitive state. His closing message is as warm and fuzzy as Ronald Reagan’s Morning in America:
The expansion of the presidential map into states where Democrats have not made inroads for many election cycles (e.g., Georgia, Texas and Arizona) has two critical ramifications.
First, a strategy of discrediting an election or challenging its results becomes untenable when Biden’s electoral count rises above 300. The public perception of the legitimacy of a Biden win increases, and the inclination of a court or a state legislature to engage in gamesmanship diminishes. The adage that “if it’s not close, he can’t cheat” certainly has relevance here.
Second, the incentive for Republicans to rethink their narrow-casting approach to politics, to stop relying on the politics of White grievance and to shed their dependence on voter suppression techniques increases when it becomes clear that they are at risk of becoming a regional, niche party. It is only when Republicans understand that such tactics cannot succeed as a national message that its primary proponents will lose power. If the Trumpers’ approach means Republicans cannot even hold Texas or Georgia, then their dominance of the party is threatened. In other words, a devastating, geographically broad defeat for the Republican Party may be critical to its recovery and reform.