Q&A of the Day – Who will win the Presidential Election?
Each day I’ll feature a listener question that’s been submitted by one of these methods.
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Today’s entry: Brian, I’ve enjoyed listening to you for years, largely because of your analytical approach to information. Every now and then I wish you’d just tell us what your gut is telling you. Now is one of those times! The suspense is killing me. Forget analytics for a minute. What do you really think is going to happen Tuesday?
Bottom Line: I’ll start by saying something which may disappoint you. There really isn’t separating the two with me. My opinions, my personal feelings, they’re all formulated through the premise of what I’ve learned and what I know. I’ve long said that the greatest irony in life is that the more you learn, the more you realize how little you actually know. But you likely don’t listen to me because I’m self-aware - there needs to be more to the story. I have another saying that applies to what you’re asking. Intelligent people know what they know, know what they don’t and stick with what they know when communicating with others. The irony of discussing possible election outcomes is the combination of the two concepts. There’s no way to know with certainty how people voted until they’re counted. At the same time the history and trends are strong and established, enough so that, I correctly identified George W. Bush as the likely winner in 2000 & 2004, along with Barack Obama in 2008 & 2012. And yes, on Election Day 2016 I correctly suggested Hillary Clinton would be the likely winner of the popular vote with Donald Trump winning the Electoral College. None of that has been by chance. But still, they’ve all just been well reasoned hypothesis’s because it’s votes, not historical trends and formulas which determine elections.
Given that we don’t truly know what will happen, you might say that my Election Day stories based on analytics are my “gut” feelings. They’re all designed to give you an idea of what I believe is most likely to happen with tons of data and countless hours of research over parts, of now, four decades behind those “feelings”.
With that in mind, independent of numbers specifically, here’s what my gut tells me:
- Joe Biden wins the popular vote
- Donald Trump wins the Electoral College
- Republicans lose seats but retain control of the Senate
- Republicans gain ground in the House of Representatives, but control is decided by fewer than ten seats either way
For different reasons, the two election cycles this one most resembles to me are 2004 and 2016. The unknowns are numerous though. For example, Biden appears likely to perform better than Clinton with seniors and white women. Trump appears set to perform better with Black and Hispanic voters than he did four years ago. Should those themes hold true what will the net-net of it be, especially with likely higher turnout than four years ago? This is where I revert to historical trends. 65% of incumbent presidents win reelection. There is an incumbency advantage. In baseball the tie goes to the runner. In Presidential politics undecided voters have historically mostly broken for the incumbent.
Here’s one other gut feeling as it pertains to control of the House. I think South Florida’s 26th & 27th districts will be key and an indication of broader trends nationally. If Democrats hold both seats, I think they’ll retain control of the House. If Republicans flip one, I think they’ll gain seats overall and control would be a tossup. If Republicans flip both I think they’ll gain control of the House. And one more for Florida. I think we’ll have a higher turnout percentage than 2016 (75%) but will fall short of the record high of 83% from 1992. We’ll soon see if my gut and analytics are right again this cycle. 2020 has been the ultimate reminder that anything can happen.
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