Folks, the 2016 pollsters weren't all that off-key, said Charlie Cook on Sunday at a Zoom gathering of the Adult Forum at St. John's Episcopal Church-Lafayette Square. (Yes, the same church where Trump thumped or thumbed or trummed or trumped the Bible or whatever he did to it upside down on June 1.)
What the pollsters missed in 2016 was the Electoral College count, but there's no mistaking that Joe Biden is a lot more likeable than Hillary Clinton was, and voters this year are weary of Donald Trump, evidenced by his falling poll numbers which match his falling fundraising numbers, covid and the first debate and "boom!"
Trump is done and fried.
All his lies before the first debate and his performance that night turned off the few remaining undecided voters, said Mr. Cook.
After the first debate, the fence sitters "turned down the volume" and "boom! I don't think they are hearing a word he's saying now," Mr. Cook said.
It's a "totally different dynamic" this year compared to 2016. What we have now is "an up or down vote on the incumbent," absent in 2016 which saw a late breaking vote for Trump. His unfavorable ratings then were matched by Hillary's, both candidates' ratings, "way upside down."
Many voters didn't much like either person.
This year Joe Biden has positive ratings which exceed his negatives, while the opposite has always plagued Trump who has a 20% chance of winning the Electoral College.
Mr. Cook quoted a portion of the "unknowns" statement by Donald Rumsfeld (the second most remembered thing about him):
As we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns—the ones we don’t know we don’t know.
Biden has a 40% percent chance of a "skinny win" and a 40% chance of a "big win" if he wins five or six of the "big 6" (Arizona, Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and North Carolina) and a big get if he wins Ohio, Georgia, Iowa, or Texas.
Trump must win Texas, Florida, North Carolina, and Georgia to stay in office.
This year's turnout is "huge;" it's not "a close race," but whether the early voters are new voters or ones who would have voted anyway is not known...yet.
2020 may become a "wave" election, like those in 1964 and 1980, Mr. Cook said.
The 2016 pollsters may have leaned too heavily on the college-educated without adequate attention to the non-college-educated, Mr. Cook said, skewing the numbers, but pollsters have pretty well learned their lesson, and that is not happening this year.
One of Hillary's errors in 2016 was using the word "deplorables" which "cost her a half million to a million votes."
Another "big mistake" she made was going to Arizona at the expense of Michigan and Wisconsin which she did not visit between Labor Day and Election Day. (Hillary "has accumulated a lot of baggage over the years.")
She lost those states and, in case anyone has been napping four years, the election.
Mr. Cook quoted the Gallup Poll: Trump's first year in office earned him the lowest post-World War II job approval rating ever recorded for any president (by 10+ points! 38%) and his second year (40%), was the second lowest post-World War II rating. (Jimmy Carter's third year in office takes that prize.)
Trump's job current job approval average is 43% with an average over his term of 41%. He has hit as high as 49%, but his solid base of favorability by 40-42% of Americans will support him no matter what.
History shows his present job approval rating is not enough to win a second term.
St. John's Episcopal Church, Lafayette Square, Washington, D.C. Photo by Patricia Leslie
From St. John's:
"Charlie Cook, Editor and Publisher of The Cook Political Report, political analyst for the National Journal Group, and a political analyst for NBC News. Founded in 1984, New York Times once described The Cook Political Report as, 'a newsletter that both parties regard as authoritative' while CBS News’ Bob Schieffer called it, 'the bible of the political community.' Mr. Cook has appeared on numerous news shows and has served over the years as an Election Night analyst; since 1996, he has been part of the NBC News Election Night Decision Desk."
St. John's Episcopal Church, Lafayette Square, Washington, D.C. Photo by Patricia LeslieCharlie Cook is one benefit of belonging to St. John's. Another one is a nice respite from the election this coming Sunday when CNN "royal commentator," Victoria Arbiter, will speak on The Windsors: A Chat about the British Royal Family.
Writer's note to the Cook Political Report: You are wrong labeling Virginia as "likely Democrat" in the "2020 Electoral College Ratings." We are SOLID Democrat as evidenced by the 44 point spread Biden has over Trump in Fairfax County. Whither goest, thou, Fairfax County, there follows the Commonwealth of Virginia.