Biden landslide? Not so fast. MSM begin hedging their bets.
Democrats begin to worry that maybe it's not a runaway election.
The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook
There was a striking paragraph in a Politico piece on Monday, one that should give pause to the notion that Joe Biden is leading by double digits — or even 18 points, a Drudge Report headline blared — in the 2020 presidential election.
"Democrats are poring over early vote totals, circulating anxiety-ridden campaign memos and bracing for a long two weeks," the inside the Beltway website wrote.
Huh? Isn't Biden cruising to victory?
The liberal website, created by two former Washington Post reporters, has been pumping out pro-Biden stories for months. Now, apparently, the editors are hedging their bets.
"Yet two weeks before Election Day, the unfolding reality of 2020 is that it's harder than ever to be sure. And Democrats are scrambling to account for the hidden variables that could still sink their nominee — or what you might call the known unknowns," said the piece, headlined "The hidden factors that could produce a surprise Trump victory."
Of course, they're not hidden, or not, at least, for those who are looking — and especially those who saw what happened in 2016. Back then, polls like those from fivethiryeight.com gave Hillary Clinton a 91% chance of winning the White House. She got crushed in the Electoral College, 304-227.
Politico is changing all the parameters the mainstream media has been laying out for months. The MSM once said Democrats were more jazzed about the election than Republicans, but Politico said, "Republican registration has ticked up in key states at the same time Democratic field operations were in hibernation."
And there were musings last month that the race won't end on Election Day. No, all the "politicos" said, the mail-in vote will change everything, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
"A top Democratic data and analytics firm told 'Axios on HBO' it's highly likely that President Trump will appear to have won — potentially in a landslide — on election night, even if he ultimately loses when all the votes are counted," reported Axios, which, incidentally, is a website created by one of the Politico founders. According to the site:
"Way more Democrats will vote by mail than Republicans, due to fears of the coronavirus, and it will take days if not weeks to tally these. This means Trump, thanks to Republicans doing almost all of their voting in person, could hold big electoral college and popular vote leads on election night. ...
"That is what this group, Hawkfish, which is funded by Michael Bloomberg and also does work for the Democratic National Committee and pro-Biden Super PACs, is warning is a very real, if not foreordained, outcome."
Now, Politico says just the opposite.
"Democratic turnout is surging in the early vote," according to Politico. "But it's unclear whether it will be enough to overcome an expected rush of ballots that Republicans, leerier of mail voting, will cast in person on Nov. 3."
So why the shift? Simple: 2016. Remember that on Election Day that year, at exactly 10:41 a.m., pollster Nate Silver posted a story on his website FiveThirtyEight under this headline: "Final Election Update: There's A Wide Range Of Outcomes, And Most Of Them Come Up Clinton."
Silver said his "forecast has Clinton favored in states and congressional districts totaling 323 electoral votes, including all the states President Obama won in 2012 except Ohio and Iowa, but adding North Carolina." Like the MSM now, Silver hedged his bet a bit, saying Clinton could lose North Carolina or Florida — especially — so "the average number of electoral votes we forecast for Clinton is 302."
Clinton lost both (North Carolina by a lot, 3.8%). She also lost Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin. Landslide.
But Silver in June came out with a brand new prediction: A "Biden landslide is possible." He might be right. He works the numbers. But he was way wrong last time, so there's that to consider.
Then there's this: The secret Trump voter. Admitting you back the president nowadays might get you a punch in the kisser. So they've gone underground.
A survey in August found that in at least one swing state there may be "secret Trump supporters" who could tilt the election toward the president on Nov. 3.
The poll by Monmouth University of 401 Pennsylvania voters found that a majority of voters think there are Trump supporters out there who aren't being counted. "The media consistently reports that Biden is in the lead, but voters remember what happened in 2016," said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute. "The specter of a secret Trump vote looms large in 2020."
"Most voters (57%) believe there are a number of so-called secret voters in their communities who support Trump but won't tell anyone about it," the pollsters wrote. "Less than half that number (27%) believe there are secret voters for Biden. The suspicion that a secret Trump vote exists is slightly higher in swing counties (62%) and Clinton counties (61%) than in Trump counties (51%).
Donald Rumsfeld, Defense Secretary for George W. Bush, famously said in 2002: "There are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don't know we don't know."
And that is, in a nutshell, the 2020 election. The known unknowns are the key.
"There are more known unknowns than we've ever had at any point," said Tom Bonier, CEO of the Democratic data firm TargetSmart. "The instruments we have to gauge this race, the polling, our predictive models ... the problem is all those tools are built around quote-unquote normal elections. And this is anything but a normal election."