It’s Round 74 of the Post Pundit 2020 Power Ranking, and barring a meteor strike, extraterrestrial invasion or unexpected constitutional cataclysm, we made it! It’s only a few short days before voting ends in the faceoff between the Republican Trump-Pence ticket and the Democratic presidential and vice-presidential nominees, Kamala D. Harris and Sherrod Brown.
Wait, sorry, that can’t be right. Our apologies; this thing has been going on a long time. Since you started this journey with us in February 2019, a lot has changed, but now the finish line is in sight, and the Ranking Committee members have been asked to make their final bets: Will President Trump or Joe Biden take the White House? How? Which party snags control of the Senate, and by what margin? And what’s the biggest upset our rankers have got their eye on this election, at any level of government, from sea to shining sea?
Take a deep breath, rub your “I Voted” sticker for luck, and read on.
Biden wins, with a 65 percent win likelihood, 319 electoral college votes and 52 percent of the popular vote
Either Biden is going to win, or public opinion polling has degenerated into an empty, erroneous exercise. I think Arizona will go blue this year, but not either Georgia or Texas, as many Democrats hope.
I suspect we will have a relatively early call because most of the key swing states are in the Eastern time zone … though Pennsylvania didn’t give itself much time to process ballots before polls close, so it could be late to report final results.
Biden wins, with an 86 percent win likelihood, 330 electoral college votes and 53 percent of the popular vote
Biden will win by enough that it’s clearly a win — eventually. We won’t “know” the result on election night, partly because race-callers are going to be more cautious than ever. Florida needs to blow out for the former VP for an easy call there, and it could very well break for Trump instead. Pennsylvania will probably go blue, but it will take a while for the count to come in. An early call in Arizona, plus strong enough results in Michigan and Wisconsin, could lead to an answer on Wednesday.
But why should we know any sooner? We obviously didn’t know in 2000, in 2004 we didn’t know until mid-afternoon on Wednesday, and we didn’t technically know until the next morning in 2016, either. In other words: Enjoy this agony a little longer!
Biden wins, with a 75 percent win likelihood, 305 electoral college votes and 54 percent of the popular vote
Late-breaking undecideds are likely to vote Biden, but how many of them can there really be? I think the popular vote will be significantly closer than the electoral college, but this time, the two of them will align.
Biden wins, with a 93 percent win likelihood, 348 electoral college votes and 54 percent of the popular vote
I ran a model, and those were the outputs! More seriously, though — my best guess is that Biden wins some combination of the key swing states earlier than expected (looking at Florida in particular) and we can make some inferences about the trajectory of this election well before a final race call happens. Of course, I could be completely wrong, because every scenario seems to be on the table this year.
Biden wins, with a 90 percent win likelihood, 342 electoral college votes and 54 percent of the popular vote
Biden sweeps the three key blue states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania and breaks into red territory in Florida, Georgia and Arizona.
Biden wins, with an 80 percent win likelihood, 342 electoral college votes and 54 percent of the popular vote
I think we’ll see a robust Biden win, something closer to a landslide than a squeaker. I agree with Jen and think Biden takes the “blue wall” trifecta comfortably; the surprise is that he picks off either Florida or Ohio (but not both).
Biden wins, with an 89 percent win likelihood, 339 electoral college votes and 55 percent of the popular vote
Biden wins with a comfortable — though not enormous — margin. I’m hoping for an early call (by “early” I mean within a day or two, not night-of). The mail-in and early-vote enthusiasm has been overwhelming, and I believe that more Americans are just plain tired of the current administration and ready for a change than the polls may have captured. Well, “believe” is maybe overstating it. “Hope” is more accurate.
Biden wins, with an 85 percent win likelihood, 340 electoral college votes and 54 percent of the popular vote
I’m a wisdom-of-crowds girl, so I’m just looking at the RealClearPolitics polling average and the median forecast from FiveThirtyEight, which puts Biden’s chances high, but with a relatively narrow popular-vote margin and roughly 340 to 350 electoral votes. In our partisan era, I’m not sure true blowouts are possible anymore.
Biden wins, with an 80 percent win likelihood, 305 electoral college votes and 52 percent of the popular vote
I believe Biden will win Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Arizona and either North Carolina or Georgia, while picking up Nebraska’s 2nd District. That would put Biden at 305 or 306. A surprise break in Georgia is at least possible due to the energy among African Americans there. But Florida could still go to Trump. If so, this would fall short of a landslide.
Democrats win, with an 80 percent win likelihood and a 52-48 majority
The race to watch is Arizona. Sen. Martha McSally (R) will lose, and it’ll be a harbinger of broader Western problems for the GOP.
Democrats win, with a 70 percent win likelihood and a 51-49 majority
Arizona may go to Democrats, in large part because it’s ground zero in the immigration wars, which seem to have become much more of a liability for Republicans in the Trump era. And that will figure big-time in the debates over the future of the GOP and the costs Trumpism has inflicted on it.
Democrats win, with a 55 percent win likelihood and a 51-49 majority
Sen. Susan Collins (R) vs. Sara Gideon (D) in Maine is the most interesting race just because of the Shakespearean quality of Collins’s predicament. However, there is more suspense here than there may appear; everyone seems to be assuming Collins will lose, but in fact she is still within a few points — and that’s based on the very scant numbers of public polls that have been taken.
Democrats win, with a 90 percent win likelihood and a 53-47 majority
Sen. Joni Ernst (R) loses in Iowa. Sorry, gotta know crop prices!
Democrats win, with a 70 percent win likelihood and a 52-48 majority
There is no way Ernst should lose. But I think she’s going to.
Democrats win, with a 60 percent win likelihood and a 56-44 majority
Jaime Harrison (D) vs. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) in South Carolina is what I’m glued to. I think it will actually break for Harrison, thanks to high Democratic turnout and an inescapable “sweep them out” energy.
Democrats win, with a 50.01 percent win likelihood and a 51-49 majority
Maine goes for Gideon. Everyone with a “Bye Bye, Susan” bumper sticker rejoices. Collins just isn’t able to draw a distinction between her and her party anymore, and the populous southern part of the state is simply too blue for the win she’ll probably secure up north to compensate.
Democrats win, with a 60 percent win likelihood and a 52-48 majority
Minnesota seems interesting to me, simply because I feel like a Democrat shouldn’t have to fight so hard. But I expect the Democrats ultimately pull it out.
Democrats win, with a 60 percent win likelihood and a 51-49 majority
I’m keeping an eye on the Georgia special. It is likely to go into overtime with a January runoff, and the Senate majority could be on the line.
I’m interested in whether the Texas legislature’s House flips. That would have huge implications for redistricting and could possibly set my home state (after many years of hype) on the long-predicted road to turning blue.
Georgia’s electoral votes going to Biden is a real possibility. And this is fascinating, because Biden’s last-minute trip there was surely driven by what the campaign was able to learn from the enormous level of early voting we’ve seen — which in turn shows how much this level of early voting may be transforming our politics.
In Georgia, Rep. Doug Collins (R) advances to the runoff and beats the Rev. Raphael Warnock (D). Democrats everywhere are heartbroken.
Graham-Harrison is one Senate race I’ll watch closely. Conventional wisdom says Harrison will fall just short, despite all his money. So my calculations don’t include this as a gain for the Dems. But I just have a hunch this one isn’t over yet. Trump will win the state, but there’s very little love for Graham in South Carolina right now.
I actually don’t think you can really call anything an upset in a year like this with so many true toss-ups. I could see Democrats surprising everyone by running the table on the Senate, for example. Meanwhile, I think it would be a huge upset if Colorado voters were to reject the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact in a referendum. That would be a rare vote in favor of the current electoral college system, but polls show it’s possible.
Toto, I’ve got a feeling we’re not in red Kansas anymore. The state’s up-for-grabs Senate seat goes to Democrat Barbara Bollier.
Jon Ossoff upsets Sen. David Perdue (R) in Georgia’s run-of-the-mill non-special Senate race. Could a traditionally red state go young and blue? Yes! This could be one of the races in which disgust with how things are going leads to new levels of turnout, and shocking debate moments really matter.
D.C.'s Initiative 81, also known as the Entheogenic Plant and Fungus Policy Act of 2020, also known as the “magic mushrooms” referendum, will pass to make enforcing the ban on certain psychedelic ’shrooms and psychedelic flora among local police’s lowest priorities. This won’t exactly be a surprise, in that polling is positive, but it will be a surprise in that a lot of voters have absolutely no idea this exists!
If I could predict upsets, they wouldn’t be upsets!
Previous ranking: Round 73 | Here’s how Trump and Biden scored in the final debate
… and all the rest of them: Rounds 1 through 74 (74!!) of the Post Pundit 2020 Power Ranking
Agree? Disagree? Share your thoughts in the comments. Oh, and as for the House of Representatives? Your friendly neighborhood rankings wrangler feels pretty comfortable calling that one himself: Democrats keep control … but 2022 is just around the corner. And, who knows, perhaps we’ll see you then — if we can wait that long. Until next time!
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