The 2020 presidential election, perhaps even more than the 2016
cycle, will be complicated by several factors which so far are rarely
being mentioned, clarified or explained by the establishment
media and most of its pundits and pollsters.
This did also happen in 2016, but I think it is fair to say that most of
it happened because these “players” were in such self-denial that
they primarily and simply ignored the cold facts.
They don’t have that excuse this time.
First and foremost, virtually all NATIONWIDE presidential polls
are of little or no value in anticipating the true outcome of the 2020
race for president. That is because a U.S. presidential election is not
a national popular vote election. It is instead (and has been until now)
a state-by-state electoral college election in which the winner must
win a majority (270) of the total electors (538) who cast their votes in
Washington, DC in December, 2020 --- following the November
popular vote. If, for any reason, a candidate fails to win a majority of
electoral votes, the election goes to the U.S. house of representatives
where its 435 members determine the winner by a simple majority
vote (with each state casting one vote).
In 2020, as in 2016, the Democrats likely will receive huge majorities
in a few large states (California, New York, Illinois) ---no matter who
their nominee will be. These states produce net majorities of millions
of votes that are unlikely to be offset by the popular vote for the
Republican nominee in all the states that will be won by the GOP. In
2016, Donald Trump won the electoral college vote by a decisive
margin (304-227), even though he lost the nationwide popular vote by
more than two million votes.
Even if polls perfectly polled persons who will actually vote, and
their number of persons polled accurately measured who they will
vote for, the polls will be relatively useless if they are nationwide
The only polls that will be worth reading, now or later, are polls of
likely voters randomly selected in a relatively large sample IN THOSE
STATES WHICH ARE COMPETITIVE.
The Democratic nominee, whomever he or she is, barring a
historic screw-up of the candidate,, will not only carry the
aforementioned large states, but a number of smaller far western
and northeastern states. The Republican nominee (now likely to be
President Trump) will probably carry a number of western,
midwestern and southern states. Presidential poll numbers in these
states will mean little if anything.
On the other hand, good polls in the individual competitive states
will be very useful even now, and surely in the primaries (for
Democrats), and certainly for the final phase of the campaign going
Those states currently are, going east to west, New Hampshire,
Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, Michigan,
Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado
and Nevada. Six of these states were carried by Hillary Clinton in
2016; eight were carried by Donald Trump.
A few other states such as Texas could come into play as election day
A non-factor in 2020 is the forthcoming and currently controversial
census. The results of this year’s census will only affect elections
If, somehow (and it is now very unlikely), Donald Trump does win the
nationwide popular vote (even by a small margin), it would almost surely
would mean a landslide electoral college victory for him. Conversely,
a much larger popular vote win for the Democratic nominee (also now
unlikely) would mean his or her election as president.
The importance of certain issues, some now highlighted and others
played down by the national media, will be key to understanding the
2020 cycle, but again the rule established above for the voting will
apply --- polls that reflect nationwide views on issues will not be
useful, only the polls on issue attitudes in individual states will matter.
With the increasing impact of regionalism and local conditions, such
attitudes could vary widely from state to state.
Caveat lector! Election news consumer, be wary of what your read in
the next 17 months! Voter manipulation is everywhere. “Fake news” is
Only a very few will get it right BEFORE the election. Even they will not
be right all the time.
You now have fair warning.
Copyright (c) 2019 by Barry Casselman. Al rights reserved.