How do we know this? Because nothing has changed the overall shape of the race over the madness of the past nine months. Not the deadliest pandemic in a century. Not a massive economic downturn. Not the worst protests and urban unrest in 50 years. Through it all, Biden has maintained his lead. The closest Trump has come to overtaking him since the pandemic lockdowns began last March was a brief period in May when he got within 4.4 points of Biden in RealClearPolitics’ polling average. Since then, Biden has led Trump by anywhere from 5.9 to 10.2 points. On the eve of the first debate, Biden leads by 6.9.
A race in which one person consistently leads by that wide of a margin is a race that person is overwhelmingly likely to win.
But couldn’t the race narrow over the next five weeks, placing Trump within reach of the same inside straight he pulled last time? Sure, it could. And it probably will tighten a bit. But tightening beyond a couple of points is pretty unlikely at this point — because Trump has proven himself incapable of appealing to voters outside of the right-wing Republican base that’s already maximally committed to him.