Now, Trump absolutely could still win. Virtually any incumbent has a chance, many swing states are quite close, and Trump is telegraphing a strategy of rampant cheating and vote suppression that can’t be measured in advance. Future events might move public opinion in a way past ones have not. But conversely, the objective condition of the country is worse than it has been since 1932, and it is not out of the question that Biden could win a historic blowout.
Importantly, as Jim Newell points out at Slate, much of Biden’s polling strength is based on an unusual group: seniors. Trump won people over 65 by about 9 points in 2016, and Democrats have been losing this demographic for many years, but Biden has made astounding inroads. A poll from last month had him leading 65+ Americans by 17 points. “That would represent a shift of 26 points among the oldest measured demographic from 2016,” Newell writes (though more recent polls have Trump doing better). As he argues, much of this simply must be about COVID-19, which has hit older people very, very hard. Trump’s catastrophic bungling of the pandemic has killed at least 200,000 people, most of them elderly, while many conservative propagandists are scoffing that they would have died anyway in a desperate bid to shift blame from Trump. Naturally that has dented his popularity, and redounded to Biden’s benefit.
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