As a prelude to the thread, we of course do not know the future. Not the extent of the current virus. Not the extent or severity of the economic fallout. We don’t know how far the Federal Reserve is willing to go on the monetary inflation front to try to stave off a recession.
IF things work out in Trump’s favor, he can be reasonably competitive with Biden and could pull off another popular vote minority/Electoral Vote majority victory. I don’t think Trump can win the nationwide popular vote, but of course he does not need to.
With the Democratic nomination process tipped well in Joe Biden’s favor and with a high probability of a major economic crisis from here through the November election, it is a good time to take a peek at the Electoral College.
One thing is 100% certain. Trump MUST stave off a recession to win. If the economy goes into recession in any degree at all, he is toast. A major recession and Biden wins in a landslide.
Three tossup States that Biden does not need but Trump must have, Arizona, Florida and North Carolina.
To win, Trump must carry those three tossup States, plus 11 electoral votes from the 47 that were carried by Trump in 2016 but now lean Biden. That means either win Pennsylvania, Michigan or Wisconsin + Maine’s 2nd Congressional District.
If Trump staves off economic trouble, it is doable. He could theoretically lose the popular vote by 5,000,000 votes yet win the Electoral College. He could carry the necessary States by small margins while losing big elsewhere.
But he cannot, under any circumstances, prevail if the economy is in any degree of recession. The part of the working class in the Rustbelt that is supporting him will ditch him in a recession and he will lose.
Trump’s best case scenario, if the economy holds, would be a repeat of his 2016 performance.
Trump’s worst case scenario is truly brutal, Biden 413 to Trump 125, although the likelihood of a result anywhere near that bad is very low.
But all Trump’s hopes are predicated on the state of the economy in November.
He can win, but only with a good economy.
With a good economy, I put Trump’s chances against Biden at an even 50/50.
And the state of the economy in November is something I cannot predict at this point, not anywhere near enough information and too many variables.
My analysis right now is closer to that of Charlie Cook that to that of Larry Sabato.
Trump SAFE/LIKELY - Electoral Votes
Nebraska 3rd Congressional District - 1
West Virginia - 5
Wyoming - 3
Oklahoma - 7
North Dakota - 3
Kentucky - 8
Alabama - 9
South Dakota - 3
Tennessee - 11
Arkansas - 6
Idaho - 4
Nebraska at large - 2
Louisiana - 8
Mississippi - 6
Indiana - 11
Missouri - 10
Kansas - 6
Nebraska 1st Congressional District - 1
Montana - 3
South Carolina - 9
Alaska - 3
Utah - 6
Texas - 38 (If the bottom totally drops out of the economy, Biden might have a chance here, barring that, Trump will carry the State.)
Ohio - 18 (Any severe economic downturn gives this to Biden. If the economic downturn is limited, Trump remains competitive.)
Iowa - 6 (Trump holds the clear advantage, but a big enough downturn could swing things.)
Georgia - 16 (The Big A is inexorably turning this State purple. Trump holds the clear advantage going in, but a strong economic downturn could just push Biden over the top.)
Nebraska 2nd Congressional District - 1 (Trump advantage but a severe downturn could swing this district.)
SAFE/LIKELY/LEAN - 204
North Carolina - 15 (Trump did not win an outright majority of the popular vote here in 2016 and his plurality was a mere 3.5%. EITHER a strong turnout by black voters or a significant economic downturn could make the difference here.)
(A further note on North Carolina: As with Georgia and the Big A, North Carolina statewide politics is being inexorably influenced by growth in Charlotte/Mecklenburg. Both the city and the inner suburban areas are very blue. The outer belt of suburbs trends from purple to red, but Trump has done nothing to ingratiate himself to suburban Republicans. Growth in Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill is also not helping Republicans statewide and Chapel Hill is deeply blue. The red rural counties which used to have unquestioned power over North Carolina are beginning to matter less and less, because they are either not growing, growing very slowly or in some cases actually declining in population.)
Florida - 29 (Trump did not win an outright majority of the popular vote here in 2016 and his plurality was slightly over 1.0%. Economics is more significant here than black voters.)
Arizona - 11 (Again no Trump majority and only a 3.5% plurality. Again economics.)
Biden LEAN (From Trump 2016)
Maine’s 2nd Congressional District - 1 (If the economy remains decent, within reach.)
Pennsylvania - 20 (No Trump majority and a mere 0.5% plurality. Any economic downturn pretty much turns Trump to toast.)
Michigan - 16 (Ditto to Pennsylvania, but even smaller plurality. Ditto economics.)
Wisconsin - 10 (Ditto. Ditto.)
Biden LEAN (From Clinton 2016)
New Hampshire - 4 (This was incredibly close in 2016 but even so, it is extremely unlikely that Trump will win here, particularly given that he facing an uphill economic situation. Plausible that he could win, but highly unlikely.)
Nevada - 6 (Again, possible, but EXTREMELY unlikely that Trump wins here.)
Minnesota - 10 (Ditto.)
Maine at large - 2 (Ditto.)
Colorado - 9
New Jersey - 14
Connecticut - 7
New Mexico - 5
Maine 1st Congressional District - 1
Oregon - 7
Rhode Island - 4
Illinois - 20
Washington - 12
New York - 29
Maryland - 10
Massachusetts - 11
California - 55
Vermont - 3
Hawaii - 4
District of Columbia - 3
Biden SAFE/LIKELY/LEAN - 279
Visually (how things stand right now, not necessarily the result in November):