Most Democrats are Scared to Say So, but Joe Biden Is Poised for a Landslide Win
Four years ago, Democrats were in denial about their Hillary Clinton’s weaknesses. Now, they’re afraid to acknowledge Biden’s strengths.
All signs point to a Biden win, even a landslide.
The former vice president has an 8-point lead nationally and a significant edge in most battleground states. He campaigned in Georgia on Tuesday, reaching for victory in a red state that hasn’t been competitive for decades while President Trump is running around the country pretending it’s 2016 all over again.
The election forecast couldn’t get much brighter for Democrats but instead of singing, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” most Democrats don’t want to even talk about the potential of a blowout approaching the scale of 1980, when Ronald Reagan came out of the West to bury Jimmy Carter.
Forty years later, Trump’s base in rural America and in Southern states should protect him from a Carter-sized humiliation but a week out from D-Day, “it looks like a fairly sizable win for Biden” reports Dave Wasserman with the non-partisan Cook Political Report. He says Democrats were in denial about Hillary Clinton’s weaknesses four years ago. “Now Democrats are paranoid about polls that look good for Biden.”
Democrats don’t want to do anything that might jinx the outcome or tempt the election gods into hurling a lightning bolt that could result in another Electoral College rout for Trump. Democrats still have post-traumatic stress disorder from 2016, and they believe the Biden campaign when it says their private polls show a much closer race than public polls suggest. Anything can happen in these final days, one Democrat cautioned, pointing to the rioting in Philadelphia over the police shooting of a 27-year-old Black man armed with a knife, potentially roiling the vote in a key state.
One of the few Democrats willing to say unequivocally that victory is at hand is James Carville, who helped steer Bill Clinton to the White House in 1992. He says we will know by 10:30 pm Eastern time on Election Night that Biden has won. How can he be so sure? “First of all, every poll I’ve seen in Pennsylvania—and I’ve seen a lot of them—Biden is up 53 to 45,” he told The Daily Beast. “If Biden wins Pennsylvania, FiveThirtyEight gives him a 96 percent chance of winning (the presidency.
Next, says Carville, is Florida, where “if Biden runs 5 points ahead of where Hillary was, I don’t have to look any further. And if he wins Georgia, which he could, it’s over.” Trump’s disapproval among white voters in Georgia is 32 percent, Carville says, a number that together with an energized Black vote puts the state and two Senate races within Democratic reach.
Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg told the Daily Beast, “This may be the biggest landslide possible in this polarized country.” In 1980, Reagan won all but six states and the District of Columbia. How sweet it would be 40 years later to return the favor, but Greenberg says victory on that scale is unlikely given Trump’s job approval is still at 42 percent and his base in rural America and Southern states is still strong.
The latest NBC map awards Trump just 125 red-state Electoral College votes, leaving open the possibility Biden could win over 400 EC votes, the biggest landslide since George H.W. Bush demolished Michael Dukakis in 1988.
Instead of savoring the victory that lies ahead, “Democrats are just shaking and trembling and having conference calls,” says Carville, who doesn’t conceal his disgust with his party’s inability to accept what is staring them in the face. “The Democratic campaign culture is the whiniest, most feeble, most pathetic thing I’ve ever seen. Are we going to lose? No, we’re going to win!”
If the data is that strong, why are so many pundits and pollsters reluctant to talk about what is shaping up as a big win? “Because people shift—and a one-in-10 event happened last time,” Carville replied.
Looking back at his data from four years ago, Wasserman says there were clear flashing red signs for Clinton, as Trump’s lead in key congressional districts had ballooned from 5 points in September to 15 points just ahead of the election. Today, the same map is full of flashing red signs for Trump. Biden is leading by 7 to 10 points in four Pennsylvania districts considered moderately competitive. With more than 60 million votes already cast, the undecided and third-party share is half of what it was in 2016, which should make for less volatility this time around.
Like Carville, Wasserman will be watching Florida’s Sumter County, home of the Villages, a strong Republican enclave that favored Trump 68 to 29 in 2016. “Trump needs at least 67 percent (in Sumter County) to win Florida,” says Wasserman. “If we see the first batch of votes from the Villages and Trump is leading 60 to 39, in my book, that would be catastrophic” for him.
So all signs point to a Biden win, but will it be a blowout? “If he wins the states Hillary won plus the Blue Wall (Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin), that would be 278 votes, not my definition of a blowout,” says Bill Galston, a senior fellow with the Brookings Institution. “Will he do better than that? Will he win North Carolina, Florida, Arizona and Georgia in addition to the Blue Wall states, that would be a blowout. If he wins Texas, that would be beyond a blowout—it would be a wipeout.”
Why isn’t he predicting any of that? “Because I don’t have the required level of confidence in the outcome. And I suspect in the last few days some wavering Trump supporters will return to the fold.” Galston thinks Trump will do a little better than the 43 percent some analysts are predicting, and he attributes his reticence about going further to the “tension between my head and my gut. My gut is queasy for reasons related to 2016 PTSD. We really got knocked off our pins emotionally and analytically.”
Former George W. Bush pollster Matthew Dowd is so bullish on Biden that he says the former vice president has a better chance of winning Texas than Trump has of winning Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. He regularly tweets data points on why Texas is possible for Biden. In Texas District 3 (Collin county), Trump won in 2016 by 14 points; one recent poll there has Biden up 11.
Former Romney adviser Stuart Stevens, who has endorsed Biden, has called on Democrats “to banish the timidity,” saying if he were in charge here’s what he would be telling his troops, “We are going to crush Donald Trump and the sickness he represents. There are more of us than there are of them. We are right. They are wrong. This is our moment. This is our destiny. Walk with confidence. Do not falter. Victory will be ours.”
Easier said if you’re a Republican, says Matt Bennett with Third Way, a moderate Democratic group. The PTSD Democrats are experiencing is not just about 2016. “We have it from 2004, when the early exit polls had John Kerry winning, and in 2000, when they called the friggin’ election basically for us. We are the product of a series of close and heartbreaking elections that make it hard for anyone to contemplate a blowout.”