Will voters choose an amiable witch doctor over a real doctor with a poor bedside manner?
Election 2020: Civilization or Anarchy?
By: George Noga – November 1, 2020
In 1939 Winston Churchill quipped Russia was “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma”. As I try to make sense of Tuesday’s election, I understand how he felt. I have labored mightily to try and present readers with my fearless forecast. However, due to many factors, chiefly surging Covid, ersatz polling, the Biden scandal, urban anarchy and unprecedented voter turnout, we are sailing in terra incognita.
How Biden Could Win
Biden enjoys a significant, but definitely surmountable, lead nationally (7 points in the Real Clear Politics average) and clings to slim leads in most battleground states. He is running 1-2 points ahead of 2016. Polls are more reliable this close to the election as those that were engaging in suppression have shifted to protecting their reputations for accuracy. If the RCP poll average is anywhere near accurate, Biden will be favored.
Biden is surpassing expectations with three cohorts of voters: (1) Republicans and independents who may have voted for Trump in 2016; (2) suburban voters, particularly women; and (3) seniors. Each of these groups has been turned off by Trump’s persona and tweeting. If Biden’s strength holds up in these cohorts, he will be favored.
How Trump Could Win
Trump won in 2016 despite losing the popular vote by 2-3 points. Polls undercount his support by 2 to 4 percentage points due to underrepresentation of Republicans in the polls and reluctance of Trump voters to reveal their preference to pollsters. This means polls showing Biden leading by up to 7 points (such as the RCP average) may actually be about even. Then there is the margin of error, which could go in either direction.
I continue to place much stock in the outcome of recent elections in Canada, France, Germany and Australia – all conservative victories. I place the most stock in the UK election where the Tories won a landslide victory not captured by any polling.
Trump is vastly outperforming expectations among two key demographics – blacks and Hispanics. Trump is garnering 15% of the black vote (30% in places) – double that of 2016. Without the defection of swaths of suburban women, such a surge of African-American support would have been dispositive for an historic Trump victory.
Enthusiasm clearly favors Trump. In 2016 the relative size of crowds proved a good predictor of Trump’s victory; it is happening again. Trump is drawing crowds into the tens of thousands; even Donald Jr. is vastly outdrawing Biden. Then there is the stark contrast between a high-energy president frenetically criss-crossing the country while his opponent rarely leaves his basement. Finally, incumbents enjoy a big advantage.
The Unknowns and Unknowables
There are unknowns and unknowables: (1) voter turnout is on pace to shatter records, but who is turning out and where; (2) shifts in voter sentiment in the final few days are undetectable and can swing elections; (3) the coronavirus surge is hard to gauge as it cuts in two directions; older voters blame Trump and younger ones oppose lockdowns; (4) urban anarchy (Philadelphia) undoubtedly influences voters; (5) problems with mail-in ballots – including fraud; (6) impact of the Biden influence peddling scandal, including Hunter’s laptop and Bobulinsky revelations; and finally, (7) Joe’s non compos mentis which, despite keeping Joe in his basement, is plainly visible to voters.
Civilization or Anarchy?
It comes down to whether key cohorts, such as suburban women and seniors, prefer an amiable but doddering witch doctor, chanting pallid incantations, to a real doctor with a poor bedside manner. It comes down to whether distaste of Trump’s persona is reason enough for voters to turn our beloved republic over to a party antithetical to the Constitution, history, traditions, core values and identity of America. Will voters, in a fit of Trumpian pique, vote against their beliefs, ideals, values and interests? In the end, everything comes down to a choice between civilization or anarchy.
Most of the normal guideposts are broken and there are too many unknowns and unknowables to make my customary fearless forecast. The election remains a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. As I write this on October 31st, I can palpably feel the election tightening. The late momentum is all in Trump’s favor and the critical question is – will it be enough. Fasten your seat belts for a wild ride!
Next on November 8th, we offer our reflections on the election.