We don’t know who is going to win the 2020 US Presidential Election. And neither do you.
The best of us on the media side of things got out of the prognostication game after 2016, when Donald Trump laid to waste all of the predictive political tools at our disposal.
Poll after poll determined Hilary Clinton would march away with that race — the only question in a lot of our minds was just how big a landslide it would be. And then, on election night, we all got caught flat-footed, swapping out Page 1 headlines and retooling our stories to reflect this sudden glitch in the matrix.
We should have seen it coming. Trump sailed through the Republican primaries, set fire to all who stood against him, co-opted an entire party that would eventually bend to his demented will.
The only thing that has changed is that Trump has grown more powerful, and further consolidated his base.
Well, not the only thing.
Six months ago, it looked like Trump was a lock to win re-election, unless something extraordinary happened — and it would have to be something more extraordinary than, say, a recorded conversation in which he discussed the thrill of grabbing women by their genitals. Trump supporters have shown they don’t care about his character flaws or the travails of his personal life.
So: Pandemic. And then a ham-fisted Trump response that can be defended only by the most extreme practitioners of rhetorical contortionism. We’ve got more deaths and higher case numbers per million than many developing countries. And we’re still the only nation in the developed world where people who survive the disease can go bankrupt from the treatment.
Maybe it’s cost Trump some voters. Maybe.
And then there’s Joe Biden, who seems fine as a garden-variety, legacy Democrat, but who certainly could not muster as much enthusiasm as an Obama, or even a Clinton.
Today, Biden is leading polling in most states — North Carolina, it should be said, currently leans towards Trump by as many as one or two points.
Not that it matters. Not after last time.
Then there’s the very real possibility that the vote will be indecisive, that we won’t know the true winner of the election for days, or weeks, or months. Some have predicted that Trump, who has already besmirched the US electoral process and the sanctity of the US mail, might not step down so readily.
Over the last week, several publications addressed the possibility that Trump could decide to remain in office no matter what the voter tallies are.
The only thing that might prevent that would be a Biden landslide. And nobody is comfortable predicting that.