Say It Ain’t So, Joe

As all who care are aware, Democratic presidential and vice presidential candidates Joe Biden and Kamala Harris respectively spent yesterday in Georgia and Texas.  I feel personally responsible; I may have jinxed their campaign by observing in a note before the last presidential debate, “No matter the election outcome, I consider former Vice President Joe Biden to have run a smart and disciplined campaign from beginning to end …” It has since been one blunder after the next: the Biden Campaign’s insistence on muted microphones for parts of the last debate, which seemingly psychologically caused President Trump to look as presidential as Mr. Trump can look; the Biden Campaign’s idiotic decision to try to expand its Electoral map – in places like Georgia and Texas; and, given that Mr. Biden’s surest path to 270 Electoral College votes is through Pennsylvania, a fracking state, the granddaddy gaffe of them all — Mr. Biden’s debate declaration that he would transition away from the oil industry.  The latter has in the days since the debate caused images of Gerald Ford’s debate denial of Soviet domination of Eastern Europe, Bill Buckner, and Jackie Smith to dance through my head.  [For anyone for whom the references to Messrs. Buckner and Smith are too obscure, simply do internet searches of each of those names together with “YouTube,” and watch  ;)].

On MSNBC’s Morning Joe this morning, Host Joe Scarborough asserted that given the apparently-generally-accepted belief that Mr. Biden’s lead over Mr. Trump is insurmountable in Michigan and Wisconsin and (unacknowledged) indications that Mr. Trump will eke out a close victory in Florida, Mr. Biden should be spending all of his time in Pennsylvania:  that the combined Electoral College votes of the three upper Midwest swing states, together with the states won by Hillary Clinton in 2016, wins Mr. Biden the presidency.  Former U.S. MO Sen. Claire McCaskill disagreed, lauding the Democratic ticket’s attempt to expand the map.

I obviously lean more closely to Mr. Scarborough’s reasoning, but not entirely.  Although at the time this is typed, Mr. Biden maintains a 5.2% lead over Mr. Trump in Pennsylvania according to (538), 538 also indicates that in Ohio — a reasonable proxy for western Pennsylvania — Mr. Trump has gained 3.2% on Mr. Biden over the last four weeks.  Where I agree with Mr. Scarborough:  Mr. Biden should be spending much of his time in western Pennsylvania and/or determining where he can squeeze out additional votes in Philadelphia – although it is predicted that it will take days to finally tabulate the state’s votes, and Mr. Trump is already telegraphing that he plans to claim that the Philadelphia results are fraudulent.

Pennsylvania will provide its victor 20 Electoral votes.  Where I disagree with Mr. Scarborough:  I would seek to expand the map not in Georgia (where, despite 538’s current showing that Mr. Biden leads Mr. Trump by more than 1 %, I still consider Democratic Fool’s Gold) or in Texas (where 538 shows Mr. Biden trailing Mr. Trump by over a point, an outcome seeming sealed by Mr. Biden’s politically idiotic debate declaration about the oil industry), but in Arizona, Iowa, and … Omaha.  538 has shown Mr. Biden to have a steady if not impressive lead over Mr. Trump in Arizona for months; it is a bit under 3 points as this is typed.  Mr. Biden has gained 2.6% on Mr. Trump to take a narrow but seemingly growing lead in Iowa (won twice by former President Barack Obama) over the last month; it seems that Iowans are trending in the direction of Michiganders, Minnesotans, and Wisconsinites.  Finally – something I concede I had forgotten – Nebraska is one of the few states that casts its Electoral College votes by Congressional District.  Nebraska’s Second Congressional District, worth one Electoral College vote, is essentially Omaha.  Another proxy:  538 – in admittedly somewhat dated findings – indicates that the Democratic challenger for Congress in the Nebraska Second, Kara Eastman, has moved slightly ahead of Republican U.S. Rep. Don Bacon in their contest.  (Mr. Trump sees his vulnerability; he was in Omaha last night.)

Arizona’s 11 Electoral College votes, Iowa’s 7, and Omaha’s 1 equals … 19.  It sufficiently makes up for any loss by Mr. Biden of Pennsylvania’s 20, and gives Mr. Biden the presidency.  Perhaps this strategy makes sense to me because we are the proud parents of Creighton University (based in Omaha) and University of Iowa graduates; my gut says that both of these areas have too much sense to want another four years of Mr. Trump.

Get out of Georgia and Texas.  Go to Pennsylvania, Arizona and Iowa.  Then go to Omaha, and help Ms. Eastman bring home the … er … Bacon.

3 thoughts on “Say It Ain’t So, Joe

  1. Jim, my Comments here have been rare, in part due to my tendency to agree with you on so many of your analyses. Yes, indeed, Biden’s visit to Georgia and Harris in Texas this week are painfully reminiscent of candidate Clinton’s 2016 bypass of Wisconsin in favor of southern states.

    Yet the curmudgeon in me offers this observation and caveat: Democratic candidate Rev Raphael Warnock’s lead in the special election and John Ossoff’s strong showing against an incumbent Republican are remarkable and, I think, make Georgia an understandably tempting playing field this final week.

    It’s about synergy. Warnock can pull Biden’s wagon among many African American voters who might not be sufficiently motivated otherwise; and Warnock (and Ossoff) might get just enough help from the activity of Biden and the strong video endorsement of Warnock by Obama to contribute to a flip of the Senate. It’s an opportunity Biden cannot ignore. And he certainly has not failed Wisconsin in the way HRC did.


    1. Hey, Dan! Was glad to hear from you — not only on substance, but since you have sent notes pretty regularly, your silence had begun to make me concerned that COVID or another misfortune had befallen you. Maybe we’ll get a surprise tomorrow, and Biden will win Georgia; it would certainly make election night less nerve-wracking. Something I’m wondering today but will never know: whether Trump’s declaration that he’s ready with his lawyers before Election Day, before all the votes are even cast, isn’t counterproductive … I wonder whether it might not cause some seniors in swing states that are exhausted by the turmoil to vote for Biden in an effort to avoid continued tumult. We’ll see! Stay well!


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