by Frank Schnittger
Tue Oct 6th, 2020 at 09:28:04 PM EST
It's been a month since ARGeezer's diary on the US elections, so what has changed? Firstly, some significant events have taken place:
- The untimely death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
- Threats by Trump to refuse a peaceful transition of power
- The nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to replace Ginsburg
- NYT release of information on Trump's tax returns
- The first presidential debate
- Trump's COVID-19 diagnosis
- Trumps hospitalization and release
- A cluster of other cases at the White House and among Republican senators who attended the White house ceremony to nominate Barrett to the Supreme Court.
Except for the debate, its been all about Trump, and even his nomination of Amy Coney Barrett happened before Ruth Bader Ginsburg's funeral, to general disapproval, as Republicans had refused to even debate Obama's last nominee for the Supreme Court on the basis that it occurred in an election year.
Biden is generally agreed to have "won" the debate, even if only because he was perceived as the more civil participant. Nate Silver reckons Biden got a 1.5% bounce from the debate if you compare polls taken before and after the debate by the same pollster.
However the post debate polling was quickly overshadowed by the announcement of Trump's positive Covid 19 test. Again the polling seems to indicate that even some Republicans blame Trump's illness on his own failure to take adequate precautions, and his taunting of Biden for always wearing a mask in public during the debate was spectacularly ill-timed.
The spread of the disease amongst a cluster of White House Staff and Republican senators who failed to wear a mask at public While House engagements has further emphasized their culpability, and diminished any public sympathy that might have gone their way.
Trump himself also appeared mask-less on a sortie outside the hospital to wave to his supporters and on his return to the White house, putting further staff at risk. The news conference by a large number of doctors on Trumps condition just emphasized the different levels of care available to the President and the vast majority of US voters.
Trump's niece, Mary Trump, has said that Trump sees illness as a sign of unforgivable weakness. Perhaps this explains the displays of machismo and bravado on return to the White House where he declared that "Americans shouldn't be afraid of the Virus".
Opinion is divided on whether his illness will have any lasting effect on his polling, and even post debate bounces often fade. However so far Biden's lead in the average of polls has moved from c. 7% to 8.7% (538.com) and 9% (Real Clear Politics). The most recent polls, released today, actually give Biden a 10.6% edge - landslide territory.
As against that, Biden is only 4.4% ahead in the battleground states, virtually identical to Hilary Clinton's lead at this stage of the race, but then she had the Comey revelations to deal with in the last weeks of the campaign.
Biden's growing lead is also reflected in Senate races with Nate Silver giving Democrats a 66% chance of winning control of the senate. So overall what we are seeing in both national and state level polling is a gathering momentum for the Democrats, one that it will be difficult for Trump to reverse so late in the campaign.
The focus will now shift to the Vice Presidential debate tomorrow (Wednesday). Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic Vice Presidential Candidate Kamala Harris are roughly equal in what few polls have taken place of voter Vice-Presidential preferences but voters rarely take the vice-Presidential pick into account when casting their ballot. However provided Kamala Harris at least holds her own in the debate, her appearance should cement the "Obama Coalition" behind Biden and improve his rating among women voters and voters of colour.
Two further Presidential debates will take place on the 15th. and 22nd. of October but it is difficult to see them changing voter perceptions now, always assuming that Trump is completely recovered by then, and Biden doesn't fall over his own feet. This election is now, very definitely, Biden's to lose, but Democrats have managed to pull defeat from the jaws of victory before.