Analysis: Trump Campaign Numbers Headed into Election Day

AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Bill Stepien, Trump Campaign Manager, took to Twitter today to boast of Trump’s chances for election day.  Trump has cut or completely erased many of the leads Biden held as of the middle of October, drawing to statistical dead heats in several polls including Georgia, Florida, and others.  While I don’t think the media polls mean much at this point considering that a huge number of Dems have already voted, I simply use those numbers as proof that even the media sees what is potentially coming.

Here’s the thread from Stepien:

Two extremely true parts of the above two tweets. Not only is Trump riding a huge wave of momentum into election day, but Democrats watching this have been losing their minds.  All of the pollsters who predicted a Biden landslide are hedging more than an Atlanta Falcons fan at the end of the 3rd quarter (sorry Atlanta Falcons fans!). As I have discussed in numerous prior pieces, Democrats had to run the score up in the first half of the game to weather the massive turnout from the right on Election Day.  That, it appears, didn’t happen.

Among the common thread of all this data is that Democrats have failed to meet their 2016 leads heading into election day.  Dems led in Ohio by 2.5 points heading into election day.  Eliminating nearly 2 points of that lead going into Election Day puts Republicans in striking distance for a huge win in Ohio.  According to estimations, Republicans have more than 100,000 more voters still to vote in the state as well.

In 2016, Trump won North Carolina by just 173,000 votes.  Since then Republicans have increased their odds of winning the state again by adding 73,000 new voters, while Democrats lost 161,000 voters in the state since 2016.  Dems were quick to point out that their initial lead in North Carolina was huge and they expected it to carry through election day.  It did not.  Today that leads is just 5.8 points according to Stepien, nearly halving the 2016 pre-election day lead of 9.7 points.  Republicans have more than 400,000 more voters to turn out than Democrats as well, just to meet their 2016 turnout.

The data supports this statement.  Democrats have already banked a great deal of their 2016 vote and their push for early and mail voting has fallen flat.  According to the data, Democrats have 7.9 million 2016 voters to still turn out in battleground states while Republicans have 9.2 million of higher propensity voters to push to the polls. Enthusiasm rates also show that showing up to vote for Trump is almost 2 to 1 of what it is for Biden.  There are 1.1 million more voters to turn out for Republicans than Democrats in Pennsylvania (based on 2016 turnout), a state where Democrats only have a one million vote lead.

Arizona has moved slightly to the left since 2016 in registration and at one point, I thought that it was going to be the closest state in the nation.  While that potential still exists, Dems have once again failed to secure a large lead heading into election day.  With just a 1.2% lead, half of their pre-Election Day lead in 2016, it shows that Dems have an uphill battle ahead of them. Republican also have 110,000 more voters to turn out than Democrats do to meet 2016 turnout.

While this data looks cut and dry, there are other explanations other than Dems failing to show up that could explain the reductions in these leads that would spell some challenge for Republicans.  First is that more Republicans returned mail ballots this year than in 2016, which with the Coronavirus, could be a possibility. The reason why this likely isn’t the cause is that it is non-unique to Republicans and Democrats also probably vote by mail at a higher rate. Additionally, the Republican vote to turn out tomorrow also remains higher than Dems leading up to Election day.   The second is that a lot of Democrats held their ballots until now, to drop them at a polling place tomorrow.  Again, while this is a potential, it likely isn’t the cause of such a shift.  Frankly, it looks like Democrats bet it all on mail voting and lost.  With the nature of a virtual campaign that Biden has waged, he is probably lacking the DOE staff in these states they need to win.