In Depth

Why Donald Trump is likely to lose the 2020 election

Joe Biden predicts military will intervene if Trump refuses to accept election loss

Joe Biden has said that he is “absolutely convinced” that the military will escort Donald Trump from the White House should the president lose in November’s election but refuse to leave office.

Speaking to the Daily Show’s Trevor Noah, the Democrat presidential nominee said that his single greatest concern is that Trump will “try to steal this election”.  

Biden cited Trump’s “baseless linking of mail-in ballots to voter fraud... and his accusations, without evidence, that Democrats are trying to rig the election” as the driving factors behind his concerns, The Guardian says.

Tim Murtaugh, communications director for the Trump campaign, hit back at Biden’s remarks, describing them as a “brainless conspiracy theory” that formed part of an effort to “undermine confidence in our elections”. 

“President Trump has been clear that he will accept the results of the 2020 election,” Murtaugh added.

The Trump campaign is currently embroiled in a battle with CNN, demanding that the broadcaster retract a “stunt and phony” poll that found the incumbent is trailing Biden by 14 points. CNN has refused the request and said it stands by its polling data.

The CNN figures will not be the first poll numbers to have given the Trump campaign cause for concern. So just how likely is Trump to extend his stay in the White House?

Just how bad are things looking for Trump?

Very bad indeed. According to one new model, Trump “will lose in a landslide” that represents “the worst performance for an incumbent in a century”, CNN says.

He is set to suffer a “historic” trouncing in the 2020 US presidential election, according to a respected national election model that has predicted the winner of the popular vote in 16 of the past 18 elections.

The model by UK-based independent advisory firm Oxford Economics uses unemployment, disposable income and inflation to forecast results - and projects that the recession resulting from the coronavirus pandemic will see the sitting president secure just 35% of the popular vote in November.

Prior to the global pandemic, the model showed the Republican leader cruising to victory with 55% of the vote, but from his current position, “it would take nothing short of an economic miracle for pocketbooks to favour Trump”, says Oxford Economics in a report on the new analysis.

The damage to the economy will be a “nearly insurmountable obstacle for Trump come November”, the report adds.

The prediction aligns with several other major projections that also show Trump losing the upcoming presidential election to presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden. One such analysis, from The Economist, applied a statistical technique called “multilevel regression and poststratification” to determine the likely winner.

The researchers drew on data from nearly 9,000 voters surveyed by YouGov in March and April, and created “predictions for over 380,000 types, one for each combination of nine different demographic and geographical factors”.

“After all the fancy maths, six months before the election, Mr Biden is six points ahead of Mr Trump,” the magazine concluded. “If the vote were held today, he would probably win.”

So is it all over for the sitting president?

Not necessarily. Models based on economic trends alone, such as the one put together by Oxford Economics, “are not political crystal balls”, and trying to apply traditional modelling during a pandemic is especially difficult, CNN says.

“Traditional models work in normal times. But we’re not in normal times right now,” Greg Valliere, chief US policy strategist at AGF Investments, told the US broadcaster.

What’s more, while polls indicate that Biden has a solid national lead, “as Hillary Clinton’s experience in 2016 shows... winning the popular vote nationwide is no guarantee of claiming the White House”, says The Times.

Could Biden’s fortunes change?

As well as a lingering hint of scandal linked to the Ukraine inquiry that ultimately led to Trump’s impeachment, an allegation of sexual assault in hanging over Biden, which could prove costly come November.

Tara Reade, a former staffer to Biden, says that the then-senator assaulted her in the US Senate in 1993. 

However, the public reaction to the allegations has been “muted”, says FiveThirtyEight.

“A Morning Consult/Politico poll of Democratic voters found that half of respondents said the allegations would have no bearing on whether they’d decide to support Biden, and 32% of Democrats said that he hadn’t behaved inappropriately at all,” the news and analysis site reports.

In the end, it could be Biden's “penchant for blunders” that could harm him most, says Business Insider opinion columnist Michael Gordon. Republican-friendly media has questioned the would-be president’s mental capability, which makes his sporadic public fumbles all the more damaging. 

“Generally, gaffes and mistakes hurt a candidate when they play to a narrative already concerning voters,” Gordon says. “A major or sustained verbal gaffe… raises concerns about Biden’s alleged cognitive abilities.”

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Will there be an election at all?

Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, recently said “I’m not sure I can commit one way or the other [to holding the election this November], but right now that’s the plan”.

According to MarketWatch, “the implication was that Kushner believes someone else in the administration - perhaps the president himself - could decide to postpone the election, and that the November 3 election date is not set in stone”.

However, Vox says that the president isn’t able to change the date of an election - at least, not without the blessing of Congress.

The biggest danger to US democracy “is not that our election will be postponed”, says The Nation’s justice correspondent Elie Mystal, but rather “that access to that election will be restricted only to the people who are likely to vote for Donald Trump”.

State governors “can restrict assembly; they can restrict travel; they can restrict the hours people are allowed outside of their homes. And they can place these restrictions on a county-by-county basis, meaning that your ability to assemble in a long line to vote might be predicated on what community you live in,” Mystal writes.

Regardless of such concerns, Biden’s solid national lead in the polls still gives him an edge over Trump going into the last six months of the campaign.

Yet the unprecedented backdrop of the election, as the world grapples with the coronavirus crisis, means correctly guessing the final outcome has never been more tricky. 

“There is no question that American politics has been turned on its head,” says Australia’s ABC News. “The effects will be widespread, long-lasting, and utterly impossible to predict.”


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