What I would have said at today’s meeting, if it weren’t the off Sunday.
Again, Joe Biden will win the legitimate election. Nate Silver has Trump’s chances at 11%. That is with the Selzer poll showing him well ahead in Iowa. In 2016 he had 30%. That is a big difference. Trump’s private pollster has told him that he is ahead in MI and WI, tied in PA. If that is so, it would mean a massive polling miss, above the usual “margin of error” across numerous states and down ballot races. Somehow, the Theory of the Shy Trump Voter coexists with the Reality of the Obnoxious Trump Voter.
Early voting statistics are difficult to follow in most states, but an acknowledged expert is Jon Ralston in Nevada. Nevada is an unusually good state for this analysis because early voting was already common there, although this year there was less in person and more mail. It also helps that the vote is highly concentrated by geography. Clark County (Las Vegas, Henderson; favors Blue) is two thirds of the state. Washoe County (Reno) is half the remainder (about even D/R). All the other counties are consolidated as “the rurals”. They went Republican by over 40 points in 2016. This year it looks like they need at least +50. Short version: Trump is running behind his 2016 loss.
So, on to the illegitimate election. Not that there are surprises, but Trump aides have leaked the plan. Step one: Trump wins Florida, which counts fast. Not impossible: 538 has his odds there at 34% and I think that’s low. Step two: Trump leverages a large lead in Election Day votes in two of PA, MI, WI [just PA is not enough for 270 Trump EV] to declare victory even while those states are still counting the heavily-Blue mailed ballots already received (this isn’t about the throw-out-late-ballots lawsuits). Trump encourages supporters to celebrate victory and stop further counting of “fraudulent” mailed ballots in those states. I assume this will be accomplished by physical intimidation, since even the current Supreme Court can’t find a reason to throw out millions of mailed ballots timely received—although I do expect them to enforce any witness or secrecy envelope requirements, even ones that were purportedly waived by executive action on account of COVID–19. Step three: Trump asks Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus how you stay in power despite protests and general strikes. (And Trump will probably come closer to legitimate victory than Lukashenko did.)
I don’t think this will work. Not because of the fabled, but hollow, American government institutions, but because at this point Florida looks like Biden’s fourth-best state in the once-Red Sunbelt (AZ, NC, GA, FL, TX, probably in that order). If Biden holds leads in MI and WI at, say, 11:00 pm ET, Trump has to be sweeping all four of these states. Impossible. Arizona will only just have closed the polls. Suppose Trump is still ahead in the MI-WI-PA. His leads will be dropping literally by the minute as the count continues prominently on TV, even if he wins PA in the end. (He is not winning full counts of MI and WI; they are about 10 points against him in multiple polls.) A victory claim at 1:00 am ET Wednesday morning is not going to have enough impact before the light of day burns off his fog of lies. Kos has a similar explanation, including why Trump relies on Michigan over Wisconsin (Milwaukee reports fast).
His second problem will be selling victory to a very skeptical media, including the Fox Decision Desk, which is legit.
His third problem is that the Democrats seem prepared this time, unlike Bush v Gore. I know the top-flight legal team is in place, and I think the PR team has learned from Warren Christopher’s feckless 2000 performance. I just hope we also have some muscle in case Team Fascist has fantasies of stormtroopers stealing the ballot boxes.
Two more days. Breathe.