March, 7, 2020: “Landslide!”, “Sleepy Joe!”, “Dementia!” Many catchphrases and criticism by Trump and Sanders supporters are making their wayaround the social media sphere like wildfire as Biden has locked up the Democratic nomination. But what are the actual chances that Biden wins in November? It turns out, quite good.
Polls have already shifted to Biden-Trump national surveys, but as I’ve always cautioned: Ignore national polls. They are not a true representation of the US presidential election system as we saw that the popular vote went to Hillary Clinton as Donald Trump strutted his way into the White House. This is a state-by-state race, which isn’t very difficult to pinpoint which states will be the epicenter of political operations. As of today, those states are: North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.
North Carolina is a recent battleground state as the demographics have shifted significantly with the influx of economic refugees from New York, DC and Boston heavily invested in the Healthcare and Banking sectors. Michigan has been in a civil war between traditional blue-collar democrats supporting Trump and autoworkers rising concerns over Big 3 jobs taking the brunt of China tariff drama. One can conceive new Trump tariffs on European autos early summer to alleviate some political pressure in the suburban Detroit area but its unknown if that would be enough to sway the Michigan outcome to Trump. The western side of the state from Grand Rapids to Traverse City has steadily become more Left in the past 2 years, weakening the usual counterbalance to Detroit.
Pennsylvania will be fascinating race where the Pittsburg vs Philadelphia divide will be on full display. Coal country along with the fracking community will be locked in very partisan arguments against the Philadelphia area climate change supporters weighing traditional blue-collar jobs against potential green jobs in the future. Wisconsin recently has shifted to the GOP with the promises of expansion of manufacturing jobs in the state such as Foxconn. This however poses an interesting dilemma for the Trump administration – how to balance Chinese trade pressure without costing the campaign vital regional votes. Beijing has weaponized certain American companies against the political establishment for years. Buick, Caterpiller, and other American manufacturing companies have had increased revenue on Chinese market opportunities. As such, they have become asymmetrical tools for Xi to pressure Obama and now Trump on issues of trade and foreign policy. By boosting revenue and jobs for select American companies, the Chinese can pressure Trump with phantom fines, increased taxes and shutting down supply chains which affect jobs back in key US states, that are vital to Presidential and Senate elections.
Biden and the Obama political apparatus have already shown their hand in North Carolina and Michigan on what their strategy is – a Kamala Harris VP slot to boost the African American and women vote. This will certainly improve their chances in battleground states with the only question remaining as to how Obama will conduct a rapprochement with the disgruntled Bernie Sanders supporters. The Trump campaign will likely seriously debate pre-empting a historic female VP possibility by shifting Mike Pence to Secretary of State and Nikki Haley to the ticket as VP. This would hopefully offset losses of women voters in suburban households around Charlotte and solidify Wisconsin. However, it does not produce much in terms of voter enthusiasm for Pennsylvania and Michigan. Trump will have to rely on economic arguments and agitate the Sanders base against the Democratic Party’s establishment to win.
Issues broken down on a county-by-county basis are the only real way to assess the electorate’s voting intentions this summer. Big data outfits like Facebook, Google and now Bloomberg’s behemoth political data operation will be in overdrive to gather relevant information and work out ways to sway voters to their desired outcomes. If the election were held today, Trump would be the clear winner with the Democrats struggling to win over voters with highly charged ideological narratives floating around in the media for primary season. This will change as Biden remains in the center-left and Obama works on patching up relations with the progressive left.
Ultimately, Biden will need to win 3 of the 4 above-mentioned states, with the only surprise being Arizona putting a wrench into the entire Trump re-election, should it trend towards Biden.
by Albert Marko