Joe Biden is the Presidential Front-runner
Author: Greg Valliere
May 21, 2020
NEW NATIONAL POLLS AND ELECTORAL COLLEGE PROJECTIONS convince us that if the election were held today, Joe Biden would defeat Donald Trump. The election will be held on Nov. 3, of course, but Trump is in real trouble.
THE FINANCIAL MARKETS generally expect Trump to win, perhaps comfortably, as do betting sites and Las Vegas oddsmakers. These pros believe that you underestimate Trump at your own peril, and we agree.
BUT A NEW POLL, released yesterday from Quinnipiac University, is quite a wake-up call. It shows Trump trailing by 11 points nationally, with Biden hitting the crucial
50% mark and Trump slumping to 39%.
WHY THE CHANGE? Most polls have shown Biden leading narrowly, but this poll seems to zero in on Trump’s great weakness: the public increasingly thinks he has not done a good job on the virus, with 56% disapproving. Quinnipiac’s poll is well-regarded, and its findings are well outside of the margin of error.
WE THINK THIS POLL OVERSTATES BIDEN’S STRENGTH, but it now appears that he’s closer to 270 electoral votes than Trump — this is the key factor that financial markets have overlooked. Biden has opened up a wide lead in Michigan, a modest lead in Pennsylvania and a surprising lead in Arizona. If he wins those three states, Biden would have a very plausible path to the White House.
MOREOVER, BIDEN’S VP PICK could help him in key states. Kamala Harris could add a point or two to African-American vote totals in North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, etc. Or Amy Klobuchar could help Biden in Iowa and Wisconsin; both states border her home state of Minnesota.
BIDEN ISN’T A VERY DYNAMIC CHALLENGER, but that might not matter much because it increasingly appears that this election will not be about him. It will be a referendum on Trump’s handling of the virus, and his dismissive comments in March will be replayed thousands of times in Democrats’ ads.
“WE’LL MAKE THIS ELECTION all about Trump’s call to inject disinfectants, his belief that the virus would be gone by April, his use of a drug that has serious side
effects,” a Democratis strategist says. The Democrats will focus on Trump’s
temperament and judgment, this source adds.
OUR TAKE IS AS FOLLOWS: If there’s a spike in new cases, fueling a belief that the country opened up too soon, Trump will lose. If, on the other hand, new infections are modest and the economy begins to rebound, Trump will climb in the polls. He still gets good grades on the economy, which should begin to rebound by fall.
SO IT’S WAY TOO EARLY TO COUNT OUT TRUMP: He has excellent energy, plenty of money, and is preparing to ruthlessly attack Biden, who sometimes can’t find the right words in debates. And Trump is masterful at changing the subject — are mail-in ballots fraudulent? Is “Obmagate” really a big deal? Trump will spin those and other issues to his advantage.
WHILE TRUMP IS TRAILING NOW, it’s important to remember that Hillary Clinton was clearly leading — by high-single digits — four years ago. Much will happen
between today and November — but for now, we make Biden the narrow favorite. The markets need to take notice, because he has pivoted to the left in an effort to lock up Bernie Sanders’ supporters.
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