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Biden side ratings: what Trump needs to do to win the election again

Judging by the ratings, Trump will definitely lose the US presidential election. But do you remember 2016? "Jellyfish" tells what must happen for him to win this time too.

Photo: Shutterstock

There is only a week left before the US presidential election, and at first glance, Donald Trump is not doing well. Democrat Joe Biden leads all national rankings, pulling 10 points or more. If the president in the States was elected by a simple majority, the likelihood of Trump's victory would be rather slim. But thanks to the peculiarities of the American electoral system and a combination of several favorable factors, Trump still has a chance to be re-elected for a second term.

Most unpopular winner or most popular loser

Skeptics may recall: weren't the same ratings and pundits predicting Hillary Clinton's overwhelming victory a week before the 2016 election? Fair remark, but not 2016 now. Then Donald Trump was in completely different conditions: a dark horse, whose victory neither in the Republican primaries, nor even more so in the elections, was not expected by anyone - perhaps even himself. Nevertheless, his headquarters managed then to mobilize previously passive electorate groups - primarily white Americans without a university education, living in the central states far from the major cities of two ocean coasts.

But now Trump has four years of presidency to showcase his abilities. Its critics believe that their main intermediate result is a record anti-rating, significantly higher than that of other second-term candidates: Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan. Even in conservative industrial Texas, where the Republican candidate is almost assured of victory, Trump is just a few percent ahead of Biden in ratings. As the New Yorker magazine notes, if Trump wins the election, he will be the most unpopular president to be re-elected (and also the most popular loser if he doesn't).

Biden's anti-rating is now significantly lower than Hillary Clinton's four years ago. This can protect him from one of the main problems of the Democrats in 2016 - the vote of some of their voters for Trump (then it brought the future president several very important percentages). True, the popularity of Trump himself has also grown, but it is still lower than that of Biden. In 2016, more people voted for him precisely because of their dislike for Clinton, and it is not a fact that this time he will receive additional votes due to the dislike of Biden.

The main difference from 2016 is that a week before the elections, the majority of voters have already decided on their preferences, and moreover, many have already voted. In 2020, due to the pandemic, a record number of votes in the presidential election will be cast remotely. Pre-voting data show that by October 27, more than 64 million American voters had submitted their ballots by mail or at polling stations - nearly half of the total turnout in the 2016 election.

And the results of the preliminary vote are not at all in favor of Trump: in the states that publish data on party registration of voters, there are almost twice as many Democrats who voted than Republicans. This is not surprising, given that Trump himself constantly expressed doubts about the legitimacy of the preliminary vote and because of this, in advance called the 2020 elections "the most rigged in history."

Therefore, the comparison of the current elections with 2016 is not very correct due to radically different conditions. And in defense of the ratings compilers, we can say that the main American expert on election statistics, Nate Silver, although erroneously, like others, predicted Clinton's victory in the last election, gave Trump a much better chance - about 30% - to win. Now, according to Silver's calculations on his website fivethirtyeight.com, Trump has about 12 chances out of 100.

On the subject: Trump or Biden: who leads the states that can determine the outcome of the presidential election

Struggle for key states

The specificity of the American electoral system is that on election day, citizens do not vote for the future president directly, but for the electors, who formally make the final decision in a few weeks. Formally - because the electors are affiliated with one of the candidates and, as a rule, vote for him. That is why the future president is usually known already on election day.

At the same time, electors are delegated by the states and the Federal District of Columbia (Washington is located there) in proportion to their population - only 538 people. Accordingly, to win it is not enough to be more popular on the national average - the key every time is the struggle for several states in which the Republicans and Democrats do not have a stable majority. And because of this, a candidate who lost a popular vote by a million votes sometimes wins - like Trump himself in 2016: Clinton had almost three million more votes, but 77 fewer electors.

To win this time, Trump needs to reclaim at least half of the six "undecided" states, writes the New Yorker in a large campaign material about the incumbent's chances of winning. These are Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Florida and Arizona. The first three are the states, because of which Hillary Clinton lost, deciding that she was winning there, and practically abandoned campaigning. Joe Biden perfectly took into account her experience: it is in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin that he leads the most intense election campaign and spends much more of his opponent on it. According to estimates by The New York Times, in September-October 2020, Biden spent $ 53 million on advertising in these three states against Trump's 17 million.

But this does not mean that Biden's victory in these states is predetermined: his anti-Trump campaigning is unlikely to be able to radically change the opinion of convinced Trump supporters, and Trump in his election rhetoric is actively adjusting to the expectations of voters in each specific state.

To understand how strongly the voting results in each of the "undecided" states affect the final result, it is enough to play with the data in this interactive model: see how Trump's chances change if at least one North Carolina or Arizona is marked in red (the color of the Republican Party) ...

War of compromising evidence and hidden support

Biden's main attack vector in his election campaign is the failure of Trump's coronavirus strategy. And a week before the elections, it is unlikely that something will be corrected here. In 2016, Trump was helped by external factors that almost completely captured the attention of all mainstream media shortly before the election: the hacking of the e-mail of the leadership of the Democratic National Committee and the head of the Clinton campaign, as well as the renewal of the FBI investigation into the use of Clinton's personal e-mail when she was the US Secretary of State. This time, Trump's headquarters also made an attempt to intercept the unfavorable coronavirus agenda by releasing loud incriminating evidence against their opponent.

But this time, the big national media did not take the bait. According to the New York Times media columnist Ben Smith, Trump's headquarters tried to promote the story with compromising information on Biden's son Hunter through one of the most influential business media in America, The Wall Street Journal (it is part of the media empire of Trump's supporter, Australian media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, and her the opinion department generally sympathizes with Trump). Allegedly, evidence of corruption was found on the laptop of Biden Jr. during his work for the Ukrainian oil and gas company Burisma. However, the editorial staff of the WSJ conducted their own investigation and, as a result, published only a short note, which says that no trace of corruption, in which Trump's supporters accuse Biden Sr., could be found.

As a result, the story about Hunter Biden and his "Ukrainian trace" was promoted only through the corporately related WSJ, but much less respectable edition of the New York Post - and even then at the cost of an almost open revolt in the editorial office and the author's refusal to put his signature on it. The New York Post openly supports Trump's candidacy in the election, and Hunter Biden's Ukrainian adventures are a major topic in other Trump-friendly media outlets, but this is the main problem: in contrast to the "Hillary letters", which were covered on the front pages and in prime time The New York Times and CNN, Trump media "preach to the church choir", that is, voters who are going to vote for Donald Trump anyway.

At the same time, Trump still has chances for an unexpected mobilization of certain segments of the electorate - for example, writes the New Yorker, conservative-minded Latin Americans who generally do not like Trump, but they can be persuaded to vote for him at least out of loyalty to the Republican Party. It is on people who do not admit to support Trump during the polls, but will vote for him in the elections, that the headquarters of the current president is counting on.

In addition, the 2020 elections will be the first in 40 years for which the so-called consent decree, which prohibits methods of influencing turnout, is no longer in force. In the 1981 New Jersey gubernatorial election, armed Republican police patrolled areas with a predominantly black population in their spare time, demanding documents from residents, and those, in order not to face people in uniform, simply did not take to the streets. Now Trump supporters can repeat the same trick against Democratic voters. Meanwhile, Republicans have already begun to dispute the validity of at least some of the ballots received by mail.

On the subject: Against the rich and for everything American: how Biden and Trump want to change taxes in the USA

Finally, Trump can also hope that Biden's headquarters or he himself, a week before the election, will make some catastrophic oversight that will overtake Hunter's laptop in scandalousness. It's impossible to predict this, but Biden is unusually passive in the last week before the election: while Trump travels to key states, he almost abandoned events. Democrats believe such a tactic is justified during a pandemic, when large offline actions affect voters less than usual, but this is at least an unorthodox view.

Each of these factors alone is unlikely to be able to determine the outcome of the elections. But in total there are enough of them so that three different models for predicting election results give Trump the chances significantly higher than the statistical error - from 1 to 7 to 1 to 11. Approximately as from the first attempt to throw a six on the dice: this is not every time, but all- it does happen.

Betting agencies are more optimistic about the probability of Trump's victory: for example, the Irish Paddy Power has bets on Trump's loss by votes, but victory in the electoral college is accepted with a coefficient of 3,5 - that is, his chance of re-election is estimated at 28%. William Hill gives Trump an odds of 2,62 on his final victory, that is, estimates the likelihood of him becoming the next US president at more than 35%.

In the U.S. Joe Biden Donald Trump

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