With votes being cast all across the country, we are probably only 12 hours or so away from having a pretty good idea of who the next President of the United States will be. States like Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina should report generally on time, though the latter is technically allowed to count votes up to nine days after the election. In short, if Trump wins Florida, he’s in a good position to be re-elected. If he loses Florida, the race is almost certainly over before the rest of the major swing states are even decided.
Given that, you’d expect Biden to be projecting confidence in Florida and Pennsylvania, which are states that are absolutely key to Trump’s chances. Instead, his campaign is tempering expectations in a way that just seems really off this early in the day.
Biden campaign manager Jen O'Malley Dillon: "We continue to have multiple pathways to 270 electoral votes" says they can win 270 even without PA and FL
— Charlotte Alter (@CharlotteAlter) November 3, 2020
I’m pretty certain that the Hillary Clinton campaign made this same argument, i.e. asserting that they have many more paths to victory than Trump. While that was true, it ignores that swing states typically follow a pattern when it comes to their partisan breakdown. For example, if Trump wins Florida, he’s almost certainly going to win North Carolina and Georgia. If Biden loses Pennsylvania, he’s almost certainly going to lose Ohio and Arizona. When a campaign starts talking about their multiple paths to victory, that’s never a good sign for their level of confidence going into the evening.
— David Edward™ (@_David_Edward) November 3, 2020
For his part, Trump isn’t playing around. He knows Pennsylvania is a major prize and he’s being honest about that.
"I think Pennsylvania is very important” Trump says when asked by reporters whether he’s confident he can win the state.
Says that Florida, Texas, Arizona are doing very well
— Charlie Spiering (@charliespiering) November 3, 2020
To be frank, Biden’s campaign coming out before lunch and lowering the bar on Florida and Pennsylvania smells a bit like panic. Are they seeing something in the turnout numbers that have them fearful? It sure seems like it, especially when their other paths include far less probable states like Texas, Arizona, and Georgia.
Of course, in about 24 hours, an article like this may be ripe for ridicule. Biden could win Pennsylvania, leaving none of this to matter. We’ll find out soon enough, but again, it’s never a good thing when a campaign starts hinting at conceding the two biggest prizes of the night.
(Please follow me on Twitter! @bonchieredstate)