They are part of a larger sign suggesting that Trump still has a ways to go to win not just in Minnesota but over the electoral map at-large. If his campaign was truly competitive at this point, he’d likely be closer in Minnesota.
One day Trump may get there, and he definitely has a shot of winning with still over a month to go in the campaign.
Yet, it should also be pointed out that despite folks like me usually focusing on how Trump can close the gap with Biden and put new states into play, there’s another side to this equation.
If you were to look at the polling right now, there’s a pretty clear picture. Biden has leads of somewhere between five and eight points in a number of states Trump won four years ago: Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Those plus the states Hillary Clinton won get Biden to about 290 electoral votes.
If you add on the other states where Biden has at least a nominal edge in the averages (Florida and North Carolina), Biden is above 330 electoral votes.
That’s not quite at blowout levels, but look at the polling in places like Georgia, Iowa, Ohio and Texas. We’re not really talking about those places right now, even though one or both campaigns have fairly major advertising investments planned down the stretch in all four.
The polling there has been fairly limited, but it’s been pretty consistent. Biden is quite competitive.
If you were to do an aggregation of the polls that are available in those states, Biden’s down maybe a point or two at most.
In other words, Biden’s much closer to leading in Georgia, Iowa, Ohio and Texas than Trump is in Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, let alone Minnesota.
Indeed, it’s quite possible he’s actually up in either Georgia, Iowa, Ohio or Texas, and we just don’t know it because there isn’t enough fresh data. For example, Clinton only lost in Georgia by five points in 2016, and Biden’s doing about five points better in the national polls than she did in the final vote. It would make sense, therefore, that Biden’s quite close to Trump there at this point.
Wins in any of those states by Biden could push his Electoral College tally up to about 340 electoral votes or higher, depending on which states Biden wins. Victories in all four would push him well over 400 electoral votes.
Models such as those produced by FiveThirtyEight show just how possible it is for Biden to blow Trump out of the water. The model actually anticipates a better chance of Trump closing his deficit than Biden expanding it.
Even so, Biden has a better chance (about 45%) of winning 340 electoral votes than Trump has of winning the election (about 25%). Biden’s chance of taking 400 electoral votes is pretty much the same of Trump winning.
Of course, the ramifications of a Biden blowout versus a small Biden win aren’t anywhere close to being the same as a small Biden win versus a small Trump win. It’s easy to understand why the focus of a potential error is on Trump benefiting from it.
In 2012, however, we saw the leading candidate (Barack Obama) win pretty much all of the close states.
In fact, there’s no reason to think that any polling error at the end of the campaign won’t benefit the candidate who is already ahead.
That’s happened plenty of times. Whether it be Obama in 2012 or most infamously Ronald Reagan in 1980.
The thing to keep in mind is that it is possible one candidate runs the board because polling errors are correlated across states. That’s exactly what happened in 2016, when Trump won most of the close states.
This year we just don’t know how it’s going to play out. Just keep in mind that the potential change in this race could go to Biden’s benefit as well as Trump’s.
Before we bid adieu: The theme song of the week is the closing credits to Murphy Brown.