2016 v. 2020: This Race Is Over

Patrick Tompkins
Oct 31, 2020 · 6 min read
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Image Courtesy: etonline.com

See my post-election reaction here: Well… That Didn’t Go as Planned.

I’ve seen enough. I’m throwing in the towel for Donald Trump. This race is over. We are going to be subjected to 78 days of rage-tweeting from the President during his lame-duck session. Honestly, if we make it out of that time without Trump starting a war, I’ll be impressed.

If you haven’t voted already, make sure you do. This piece isn’t meant to sow complacency; solidify Democratic resolve is the goal. We’re on the precipice of a historic win, and every single vote matters. Make a plan; make sure your vote is counted. Historic voter turnout is already upon us, but now we need to make it undeniable.

Most Democrats have electoral PTSD from four years ago, anxiously hoping we don’t see a repeat of 2016. I’m here to tell you that you have nothing to worry about. I have said it for a year now, and I will keep saying it until Joe Biden is declared the winner after election day.

The former Vice President should win in an electoral and popular vote landslide. Projecting an Electoral College win between 375–422 votes; it will be the biggest win since 1988. Democrats are already pumping the brakes on this prediction because of what happened in 2016. But the proof is in the pudding, and this election is nothing like the last. Or is it?

There were several flaws in the 2016 election for Democrats. Arrogance was one of them. Ironic, given the title of this article, I know. However, Hillary Clinton was facing a viral, asymmetrical outsider. The world had no barometer for how to measure such a candidate.

Another fatal mistake was not addressing Hillary Clinton’s terrible unfavorable ratings. It truly was a choice between two evils in the eyes of most Americans. You can’t blame the people for experimenting with a long shot outsider since they were both viewed poorly by the public.

Polling was a major roadblock to a strong finish for Hillary Clinton. FiveThirtyEight has strong polling methodology and algorithms, but they too suffered from inconsistencies. Clinton never held a consistent lead against Trump, at least not large enough to justify the confidence with which Democrats spoke then. Almost monthly, the polls would swing into 50–50 territory:

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Image Courtesy: FiveThirtyEight

The same story played out in the Electoral College projections. August, September, and beginning of November saw massive swings to the middle between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, exacerbated by the last second investigation announced by the FBI into Clinton’s emails:

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Image Courtesy: FiveThirtyEight

When I hear other writers and pundits try to claim 2016 and 2020 are so similar, I look back at data like this and see a stark difference. Unfavorables, polling consistency, and world circumstances have greatly impacted the prospects of a repeat result.

The world can change a lot in four years. A once-in-a-century pandemic only exacerbated the tectonic shift in public sentiment. For those hoping to see Donald Trump grow into his leadership position have been left sorely disappointed and ready to move on.

Joe Biden is not Hillary Clinton. Her favorable/unfavorable rating was in double-digit negatives most of the campaign. Biden, on the other hand, has never had a negative favorability rating, according to RealClearPolitics. In a world where many people make decisions with their gut, this one simple poll can make or break elections.

Polling methodology has also been greatly improved since 2016, along with much higher scrutiny on state-level polling. With those improvements in place, the story grows even more dire for Donald Trump. Not once during this year has Trump been within 6 percentage points of Biden, unlike Clinton’s polling, which constantly fell within the margin of error:

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Image Courtesy: FiveThirtyEight

Not only are the polls insanely consistent for Biden, but the percentage of undecided voters is also tiny this election compared to the last; from 15% in 2016 to just 3% in 2020.

When looking at the Electoral College projections, Biden is in a commanding position. I covered this in a previous piece. Long story short, the former Vice President could potentially win as many electoral votes as any presidential candidate since 1988.

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Improved methodology, focus on state-level polling, 20+ point swing in favorability from the previous candidate, and a massive reduction in undecided voters all point to a near sure thing in the outcome of the election. Additionally, Trump hasn’t grown his base and has seen a degradation of support in key areas like educated whites, suburban women, and seniors.

This election cannot come down to one or two battleground states, like in 2000 with Florida. This election is too consequential to allow anyone but the American people to decide. Not the Electoral College, not the courts, because we know that the courts are now packed full of Trump-appointed judges.

This election is similar to a championship game. If the game ends up being close in the final seconds, the referees could decide the outcome with a missed call or an over-eager whistle. Democrats can’t allow that to happen; they need this election to be nothing short of a blowout.

Trump appointees and loyalists have already tried to suppress the vote. Texas limited dropboxes to one per county. Wisconsin now can’t accept mail-in ballot that arrives after November 3rd, even if postmarked before, thanks to a 2–1 ruling by Trump appointees. And reports of hours-long lines at under-funded early voting polling places around the country.

The American people only have one recourse to all of this disenfranchisement: vote. Vote more than they ever have before. And right now, they are doing it. The numbers we are seeing so far are just mind-blowing and very promising.

Just over 135,000,000 Americans voted in 2016. I project more than 155,000,000 will vote in 2020. So far, that projection is feeling very attainable. Just take a look at the early voting numbers compared to 2016’s total voter turnout.

Thanks to ElectProject, we know how many votes have been cast. Texas, a newly minted battleground state, is near 101% of its total 2016 voter turnout. That has huge implications. Every vote cast in Texas between now and when polls close on November 3 will be record-breaking. That is terrible news for Republicans.

Arizona, Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina; all four states are battleground must-wins. Every one of them is already above 80% of their 2016 voter turnout. Even Hawaii, a consistently blue state, has cast 110% of their total 2016 votes as of October 30th.

Barring a total no-show of voters on Election Day, we are looking at historic voter turnout in several battleground states. And we know, when voters turn out in high numbers, Democrats tend to win more. These numbers indicate a blue wave is cresting in 2020. The momentum of this moment will carry us forward for years to come.

At the end of the day, voting can’t be like going on a diet. We would much rather see you make a lifestyle change. Please don’t let this election be the one time we see this level of voter engagement. We need to see it in 2022, 2024, and every election, local and federal, from now on, indefinitely.

Civic engagement is vital to the health of a democracy. The American people are speaking right now. They have effectively spoken already with three days left to go, and nearly 65% of 2016’s total vote already in. We are hearing them loud and clear.

Get ready for a new resident at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue on January 20th.

*See my post-election reaction here: Well… That Didn’t Go as Planned.*

The Purple Giraffe

Dynamic insight about politics, policy, leadership, culture, social issues, and the economy.

Patrick Tompkins

Written by

Opinions about politics, leadership, government, kaizen, among other things. Editor of The Purple Giraffe & Leadership You. https://twitter.com/the_second_pat

The Purple Giraffe

The Purple Giraffe reports on what is happening today; with a dynamic insight into politics, policy, leadership, culture, social issues, and the economy.

Patrick Tompkins

Written by

Opinions about politics, leadership, government, kaizen, among other things. Editor of The Purple Giraffe & Leadership You. https://twitter.com/the_second_pat

The Purple Giraffe

The Purple Giraffe reports on what is happening today; with a dynamic insight into politics, policy, leadership, culture, social issues, and the economy.

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