Now then: The Trafalgar Group is one of the few pollsters that got 2016 right; they are predicting a narrow Trump win in 2020. Excerpt:
So how does he (Trafalgar pollster Robert) Culhaly see the 2020 race? Fundamentally, as a motivation race, rather than a persuasion race, with perhaps 1.5 percent, at most, of the electorate undecided in battleground states.
The likeliest Trump electoral path to victory involves winning the battlegrounds of North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Arizona, and either Michigan or Pennsylvania among the former Blue Wall states (assuming he doesn’t lose states such as Iowa or Ohio).
This is Cahaly’s breakdown: He believes Trump will win North Carolina and Florida and discounts Biden’s chances in Georgia because the Republican-base vote is too big there (the same is true in Texas).
As for Arizona, “I think Trump has the lead,” Cahaly says. “I think [Republican senator Martha] McSally has some ground to make up. I see her about five points behind Trump, but I think Trump will probably win the state. And win it by a couple of points or more. And if he wins it big enough, McSally has a shot.”
Trump isn’t there yet in Pennsylvania, according to Cahaly. “Right now, we’ve got him down in Pennsylvania,” he says, “I think if it were held today, the undecided would break toward Trump and there’d be some hidden vote. He’d probably win Pennsylvania. But I’m going to give a caveat on only Pennsylvania. I believe Pennsylvania to be the No. 1 state that Trump could win and have stolen due to voter fraud.”
Overall, Cahaly sees another Trump win. “If it all happened right now,” he maintains, “my best guess would be an Electoral College victory in the high to 270s, low 280s.”
We can hope.
The problem with polling is twofold:
- It’s a snapshot. Polls capture what the respondents think today, and not necessarily what they will think when they fill out their ballot. Given the fast-changing landscape of the 2020 election, that could be a big difference.
- People rely on polls for predictive capability (see 1. above) and predictions are notoriously hard to make, especially about the future. And all too often (see 2016) the polls are badly wrong.
High 270s to low 280s, that’s a squeaker. Let’s hope Trafalgar is getting this right, but the only poll that counts is the one on November 3rd. And, as it is every time, turnout will be the key.