The campaign is at knife's edge

The presidential campaign is at knife’s edge. Both parties’ campaigns assume that patterns of support will closely resemble those in 2016. And both are making surprisingly little effort, considering how close that contest turned out to be, with the 46 crucial electoral votes decided by just 77,744 votes, to increase their levels of support.

The past three years and 10 months have seen little outreach by President Trump to most of those who didn’t vote for him in 2016 — particularly to the college-graduate suburbanites who tipped the House to Democrats in 2018. He seems unwilling or unable to squelch the undisciplined tweets and ad libs that repel such voters, and he seems nonplussed by the prospect of losing the national popular vote again.

Trump has made appeals to non-college-graduate black and Hispanic voters, and polls show some moving toward him, as non-college-graduate white people did four years ago, and probably for similar reasons. But he’s essentially banking on replicating his 2016 inside straight, when he carried the 75 electoral votes of Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin by no more than 1 percentage point.