The Economist: Trump Beats Biden 2 to 1 in Electoral College

AP Photo

We are still months away from the November elections, but more and more media outlets are chiming in with predictions. One of the latest, from The Economist, which is not an outlet generally friendly to Republicans, should have the Trump campaign wearing some cautious grins. On Wednesday, The outlet released their first presidential election forecast, which has Donald Trump beating Joe Biden in the Electoral College by two-to-one odds.


Our poll tracker suggests that Messrs Biden and Trump are neck-and-neck in the popular vote. However our forecast model, which assesses the odds of different outcomes, puts Joe Biden’s chance of staying in the Oval Office at 33%. That’s only slightly higher than, for instance, the chance that it will rain in London on any given day.

Our forecast combines opinion polls and “fundamentals”, which are data points about the past that have predictive value including the president’s approval rating and various economic indicators. Because victory comes from the electoral college, not the popular vote, the model also includes state-level data. It then generates 10,001 possible scenarios each day to work out the odds of different outcomes. Read our analysis of the model.

First, let's settle on one point: There is no "popular vote." None. It has no bearing, and while it is a statistical curiosity that may have some value for campaigns looking for a very broad assessment of the zeitgeist, it has no electoral meaning. None. It's irrelevant; that is not how we elect presidents, and it's rather tiresome to see media outlets that really should know better trotting this out. We elect presidents through the Electoral College, which makes the state-by-state polls the appropriate data points.

And The Economist later acknowledges this.


For now, things are looking gloomy for Mr Biden. He trails by around five percentage points in the polls for the Sun Belt battlegrounds of Arizona, Georgia and Nevada, though he won them four years ago. If Mr Biden loses those three, he will instead need to win all three of the Rust Belt states of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Mr Trump leads there by only one or two percentage points, making these states a coin toss.

In other words, it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas for the Trump campaign, although they better be prepared to sprint to the finish line. Those battleground states are called battleground states for a reason, and there's no reason to expect that the Biden campaign will pull a Hillary and just ignore states like, say, Wisconsin, in the blithe assumption that they will fall like good kids into the Democrat column. We should note as well that Trump is taking the fight to the blue states, making an effort to expand the electoral map and oh, by the way, setting the Biden campaign back on their heels. It's never a good idea to let your opponent dictate the terms of the fight, but the Biden campaign, at least for now, seems to be ceding the initiative to Team Trump.

There has also been no announcement of who Donald Trump's running mate might be, and that may make a difference.


See Related: The Trump Veepstakes Continue With More Names on the List 

Biden Can't Run on 'I'm Not Trump.' Trump, on the Other Hand...

Of course, The Economist, being, well, The Economist, has to get in one more dig:

The election is still five months away and a lot could happen. And there is always the possibility of polling error, which could favour either candidate. The polls may not accurately reflect the fact that the Democratic Party’s well-educated voter base is more likely to turn out than Mr Trump’s less-educated coalition. Or they may underestimate Mr Trump, as they did in 2016. 

Less educated? Excuse me? For one thing, I have an MBA in Technology Management; my wife has Master's degrees in Accounting and Health Care Management. I think that establishes us as "educated," and this November, we'll be Trump voters. But more to the point, there are educations, and there are educations. Too much of the credentialled, managerial class left tends to think that university learning is the only learning and dismiss people with more practical experience, like some of us who have been through the College of Hard Knocks, the School of Life, and the Kindergarten of Getting the Crap Kicked Out of Us. Just because someone lacks university credentials doesn't mean they lack brains. It doesn't mean they can't see interest rates rising along with their home heating bills, their grocery bills, their housing costs, and pretty much anything else. It doesn't mean they can't see their nation's military weakened, the president being a laughing stock among the other nations of the world, and millions of unknowns flooding across the southern border.


The Economist makes a pretty good prediction here, for the moment at least. It aligns pretty well with the RealClearPolitics polling averages for the battleground states, which likewise indicate a Trump win. But while they have the what pretty well sussed out, they need to take another hard look at the why, because it sure looks like they are missing it.

As my grandfather used to say (speaking of education) - you can teach 'em, but you can't learn 'em.



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