After 4 Years of Trump, is America Better Off Than it was 4 Years Ago?
By: Sammy Quarrato
This is the full, uncut version of Quarrato’s article. Click here to read the shorter version published on November 3, 2020.
My prediction for the 2020 election is that Vice President Joe Biden will be the victor. This is my first presidential election where I make a written prediction.
On one hand, I couldn’t be more confident than I am for who I believe will win, yet there’s this aura of uncertainty that almost every political pundit, journalist, public figure, and citizen is feeling about this election.
I will be covering every possible angle I can to explain my position as to why I believe President Donald Trump will lose to Vice President Biden in a possibly historic loss.
First, the elephant in the room is the polling. There is this conventional wisdom going around the country that since polling was apparently wrong in 2016, it’s best to completely disregard it.
This polling controversy is grossly oversimplified and misrepresented and this is possibly due to how overconfident the mainstream media, pollsters, and Clinton campaign were to the lead up of 2016.
This was so over the top that Huffington Post gave Hillary Clinton a 98% chance of winning the presidency.
The fact of the matter is that the polls were not as wrong as people were making it out to be.
In 2016, the national polling average the day of the election according to RealClearPolitics (RCP) for Clinton was 3.2%. She won the popular vote by 2.1%, roughly 1 point off.
Clinton won the popular vote by almost 3 million votes yet lost the election due to the Electoral College. This has only occurred 5 times in American history and 2 of those times were in the current century.
And when you go through state-by-state polling, every state Trump won where he was down in the polling was within the margin of error which can be about 2%-4.5% off depending on the sample size.
The main 3 states people focus on in terms of this argument are Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania.
The only state Trump won that was outside of the margin of error was Wisconsin, yet there’s even an explanation for that.
Voter participation in Wisconsin went down by about 3%, and not only that but Trump won 2,000 less votes than Mitt Romney did in that state which has been blue in presidential elections since 1988.
Clinton got 238,499 votes less than Barack Obama. This makes sense because when voter turnout is lower, it usually indicates that less people of color, younger people, and low-income people are voting which favors Republicans.
Black voter turnout in Wisconsin went from 78% in 2012 to 48% in 2016 which helped Trump edge out Clinton by 0.7%.
Trump’s weakest state in 2016 was Michigan. He only won it by about 10,000 votes/0.2%.
The Clinton campaign made a last minute effort to rally in the state after neglecting it for months on end.
Pennsylvania was a state that Trump also won by about .7%. These are all Rust Belt states and that’s an important indicator.
The Trump campaign was ahead in the polling in states such as Iowa which he won by almost 10%, a margin of victory larger than how much he won in Texas. They were also ahead in Ohio.
A Republican has never won the presidency without the state of Ohio and was ahead in Florida in RCP, which a Republican has never won without since 1928.
This allowed his campaign to focus on states where they were down, but within striking distance; those states were the Rust Belt states.
This is also where most people on both sides fail to realize what brought him over the edge. It wasn’t because a bunch of drooling racists came out to vote for him because those people have been present in the country since its inception and they’re essentially a nonfactor.
Those people would never vote for a Democrat anyways and Barack Obama won by historical landslides, winning states such as Virginia and Indiana that haven’t gone blue since 1964 and North Carolina that hadn’t turned blue since 1976.
What brought Trump over the edge was his populist appeal. He was not running as a typical Republican with some key issues such as trade deals.
Trump came out against terrible trade deals such as NAFTA and TPP which contributed to the outsourcing of jobs to countries such as China and Mexico which mostly affected midwestern states.
Clinton had difficulty pushing herself away from these trade deals because she is married to Bill Clinton who signed NAFTA with bipartisan support.
Though to add context, more Democrats in the House and Senate voted against it than Republicans voted against it. The opposite is true for those who voted for it.
She also pushed for TPP dozens of times when President Obama was passing the deal which had similar effects to NAFTA in terms of outsourcing.
Trump also had a strong anti-war/anti-intervention rhetoric such as going against the Iraq War repeatedly, even slamming former President Bush, stating in the South Carolina Republican debate that, “We have completely destabilized the Middle East…They lied. They said there were weapons of mass destruction and they knew there were none.”
He was confronting Jeb Bush on this issue in the debate, President Bush’s brother who was notoriously wishy-washy on the issue.
This was a smart move for President Trump because only 13% of Americans want to stay in Iraq where we have been since 2003.
Trump also took advantage of how corrupt and untrustworthy Clinton was, calling her ‘Crooked Hillary’ and stating that he wasn’t a politician, or “bought out.”
He also further separated himself from typical Republican rhetoric in the primary stating that he wasn’t going to touch Social Security and Medicare while establishment types such as Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz repeatedly brought up the idea of “reforming” Social Security and Medicare.
Trump is a liar like no other, but people were willing to take a chance with someone they thought could change ‘business as usual’ in Washington and would potentially take down the establishment.
He turned out to be an errand boy for the establishment, doing the opposite of what he stated he would do on the campaign trail, just like most of Washington, but he was a wild card of sorts; you knew what you were getting with Clinton.
Both were deeply unpopular in the RCP Average of Favorability, never being able to escape the algorithm of negativity.
This was also extremely close as stated previously. When you put the states of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin together, he won by about 77,744 votes combined, that’s about the amount of seats you can fill in Notre Dame stadium.
I felt that it was necessary to cover 2016 because of how much has changed since then, Biden being a different candidate in terms of perception, and other factors such as COVID and the economic recession.
538 and Nate Silver were the most accurate in 2016, giving Trump about a 30% chance of winning the presidency which is why I will be referring to Nate Silver’s model which gives Biden a 90% chance of winning the presidency and Trump a 10% chance.
The number one reason is the coronavirus and more specifically, Trump’s failure to respond to COVID properly.
The United States has 9.5 million total cases, 220,000 deaths, 20% of the world’s deaths despite being 4% of the world’s population. We recently hit 100,000 new cases in the span of a day and when we talk about per-capita deaths, being ahead of countries such as the U.K., Italy, France, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Germany, and Australia.
Even when President Trump was diagnosed with COVID, about 65% of Americans stated that Trump’s diagnosis of the virus was his fault due to him not taking proper precautions to avoid getting infected.
It’s also revealed that his rallies have resulted in 30,000 COVID cases and 700 COVID deaths. This highlights moments such as when he went to Rome, Georgia.
Thousands of people were stranded for hours in the cold while waiting for buses to drive them to their cars, some elderly individuals had to be hospitalized in situations such as this which has happened 3 times this week for the Trump campaign.
The USPS was also supposed to send out 5 medical masks to every household in America, but the White House got in the way and feared that it would ‘cause a panic.’ He essentially got in the way of saving at the very least tens of thousands of lives.
The American people are struggling, about 32% of Americans fear getting evicted in the next two months, 30 million Americans are food insecure and even before the pandemic, 50% of American workers were making $32k a year or less, 78% of Americans were working paycheck to paycheck and 40% of Americans couldn’t afford a $400 emergency.
We haven’t had a stimulus check since March and the president has been unable to get one passed through Congress because Pelosi did not want to allow Trump to take credit for giving out aid to the American people while the Republican Senate and Mitch McConnell are committing to austerity.
According to 538, Trump has a 57% disapproval rating in terms of the coronavirus, it may seem like that’s not huge, but when you also look at people who are registered Independents, his approval rating is only 35%.
The Bob Woodward Tapes especially revealed the intent behind Trump’s botched COVID response, stating that he didn’t want to cause a panic and that this was airborne alongside it being far worse than the flu.
If there wasn’t a pandemic, this discussion would be much more favorable to Trump due to the economy being relatively stable, despite its deep flaws that were previously stated.
Guaranteed Loss Rule
But if you wanted to go by a guaranteed method of how to determine who will be elected president, you can go by the Guaranteed Loss Rule.
This economic theory hasn’t failed in predicting the presidential election winner since the 1940s.
The criteria of this theory is that if real GDP growth goes down the year before the election and if the misery index rises which depends on the unemployment rate and inflation.
Real GDP growth has gone from 2019 to 2020 and the misery index has risen due to unemployment skyrocketing compared to the year prior and inflation staying relatively steady, going from a Misery Index of 5.4 to 9.3.
Trump’s approval rating at this point is also lower than incumbent presidents such as Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and George W. Bush but somewhat higher than Jimmy Carter and H.W. Bush’s numbers.
Since we live in such partisan times, presidential election landslides in the 21st century are not as lopsided as those in the 20th century such as the Reagan elections and Bill Clinton elections.
So, when you compare Obama to Bush, he does not look to be the favorite through the lenses of favorability polls.
Another reliable source is historian Allan Lichtman, who has predicted every single presidential election correctly since 1984, even predicting that President Trump would defeat Clinton in 2016.
He is now calling the race for Vice President Biden.
Also, when it comes to polling, 2020 has been the most consistent in the national polling in 21st century American elections and is ahead more than Obama was in 2008 and almost double of what Clinton was ahead of in RCP’s polling average.
The polling average in 2016 had Trump tied or even ahead of her by about 6 points in the national polling, the lowest Biden has ever been ahead by was approximately 4 points.
Even if the polling numbers were off as they were in 2016, Biden would still win by 335 electoral votes.
The debates didn’t help Trump, either. If anything, it heavily damaged his campaign. We know this due to polls such as CNN, YouGov and even Rasmussen, Trump’s favorite polling company that skews right.
Giving him double digit leads when they were originally giving him about 4-8 point leads where the betting markets went from favoring Biden by 8 points to 20 points, more than double.
The betting markets are somewhat of an important factor to take in because of the incentive to put personal biases aside because of financial interests being on the line.
Biden did not necessarily win the debate, but Trump lost to himself. The nation yearned for a steady hand of leadership. Despite this, Trump came into the first debate hot, like a bomb-thrower adding fuel to the fire.
His behavior was put on display when Trump gassed peaceful protesters in Lafayette Square for a photo shoot where he held the Bible upside down. His actions during this time highlighted that he is not a candidate of law and order.
It doesn’t make much sense for Trump to push on the issue of crime since most voter’s top priority isn’t crime, it’s COVID, healthcare, and the economy.
But it also doesn’t make much sense since he’s been shown to add fuel to the fire with his rhetoric and actions.
He was also pushed by Biden on the issue of his tax returns where he owes $72 Million to the IRS and has taken $73 Million from foreign investors and foreign governments while in office.
His attacks on Hunter Biden weren’t effective, as he went after him in a personal sense such as criticizing him for his cocaine addiction and the NY Post showing personal texts between him and Biden where it was frankly heartbreaking to see.
It’s undeniable that Hunter Biden used his father’s name to get what he wanted, but if they were laser focusing on the corruption angle, it could have possibly worked but because they exposed personal pictures that had nothing to do with corruption, it’s seen as ethically wrong.
Biden is also seen way more favorably than Clinton and Trump were viewed in 2016 and way above Trump in 2020.
This was occurring around the time when Trump was unable to pinpoint what to caricature Biden as, whether he was Sleepy Joe, Antifa Joe, or Crime Family Joe.
He was able to stay on message with Clinton being corrupt and was able to do so since she had a record and he didn’t.
Biden is also more likable than Clinton is as a person, having this deep real personal tragedy of his first wife and daughter dying in a car crash while his son Beau died from brain cancer.
This makes him much more relatable to the average American because of his show of personal hardship.
My previous article about the first debate goes into more depth about the details of the debate and what my takeaways were alongside how the average American perceived the debate.
The second debate, however, was somewhat of an improvement when speaking about Trump’s performance, but he arguably still came out short because of polling numbers being unchanged or the betting market.
The debates also had a common theme which was that Trump has completely lost his Populist appeal, taking the bait how he did to Clinton in 2016.
An example of this is when Trump attempted to attack Biden by stating that the stock market would crash if he was elected.
Before we go into how silly of a measure that is and sounding like an elitist, he was rightfully bashing Clinton for being the elitist she was, flanking her to her left in issues such as trade and war.
The stock market just had its worst week since March recently and when Biden won Super Tuesday, the pharmaceutical industry’s stock numbers went up.
Biden capitalized on this opportunity to be the populist. He stated that people don’t live off the stock market, the top 10% of Americans own roughly 90% of the stocks.
Biden also brought up that billionaires have gotten hundreds of billions of dollars richer under the pandemic while regular people struggle. The billionaires in the country have gained $1 trillion in net worth since Trump’s term in office.
Another instance of this was when Biden supported a $15 minimum wage. This is an issue where 80% of Americans agree that the minimum wage should be increased.
Trump pushes back and says that there should be a state option, which makes him look like an elitist.
Just to put this in perspective, the minimum wage hasn’t been increased since 2010 and it’s only $7.25, if you accounted for inflation, it would be $12.
Also, the minimum wage in 1970 was more than what it is now when you consider inflation and if you kept the minimum wage up with productivity, it would be about $22.
The idea of the minimum wage being a living wage is just a political no-brainer but Trump didn’t recognize that due to his political instincts dulling and forgetting how he won in 2016.
A YouGov poll conducted in Wisconsin that was released October 16 showed that 60% of likely Wisconsin voters thought that Trump cared about the wealthy and elite while 40% think he cared about the middle class and poor.
Biden stomps him in the poll where 35% say he cares about the wealthy and elite while 65% say he cares about the middle class and poor.
Conservative commentators have attempted to use Trump’s crowd sizes and ground game to show that he’s the one that is winning.
As said previously, Biden’s campaign is taking the pandemic seriously while Trump is not, so when it comes to crowds, his campaign makes a conscious effort to not get too many people into one area.
But when I see the crowd sizes and the ground game argument, I’m constantly reminded of the 2020 Democratic Primary where both of those things were true for Bernie, yet he lost.
A direct poll comparison we can do is the last poll from YouGov in 2016 compared to the last YouGov poll that has been released for 2020.
In the 2016 poll, Clinton was beating Trump by 4 points, right within the margin of error, the same poll conducted 4 years later has Biden leading by 10 points, more than double of what Clinton had.
We can also do a comparison of who’s winning which demographics with this poll and the 2016 demographic breakdown.
Biden is winning men by 1 point, Trump won men by 11 points in 2016.
Biden is winning women by 18 points in the poll, Clinton won women by 13 points in 2016.
Trump is winning white men with no college degrees by 22 points, Trump won white men with no college degree by 48 points in 2016.
Biden is winning white women with college degrees by 16 points, Clinton won white women with college degrees by 7 points in 2016.
Biden is winning people 65+ by 4 points, Trump won people 65+ by 8 points in 2016.
Biden is winning Hispanics by 29 points, Clinton won Hispanics by 36 points in 2016.
Biden is winning Independents by 9 points, Trump won Independents by 5 points in 2016.
As you can see, Biden is not only winning demographics Clinton won in 2016 by a larger margin, especially with women, he is also winning demographics Trump won in 2016 such as 65+ voters. This is likely since many of them are vulnerable to the pandemic.
Even amongst demographics, Trump is winning them by smaller margins than he did in 2016, especially amongst white men with no college degree.
This has also occurred before with the Southwestern region such as the states of Nevada, Arizona, and Texas where Democrats were underestimated in 2016 and 2018 in the polls by an average of almost 3 points.
Almost 98 million people voted early, that is almost three-quarters of how many people voted in 2016, most of the people who voted early are Democrats while most of the people who will vote on Election Day are expected to be Republicans.
Some states such as Texas have exceeded 2016 voting numbers, meaning more people have voted early in 2020 than the entire election of 2016 in that state.
Republican efforts to suppress the vote have gotten so desperate in the state of Texas that Governor Greg Abbott made it where there was only one drop off location for each county in the state.
This means that places like Harris County, which contains the city of Houston where millions of people live, will only have one location to drop off absentee ballots while states that have less than 10,000 people also do.
Republican officials even attempted to get the Supreme Court of the State of Texas to have 100,000 ballots dumped out because people cast their vote by drive-thru. This failed.
This also begs the question of how quickly we’ll get the results in this election, as swing states such as Florida, Arizona, and Colorado all have very effective vote-counting because they’ve been doing it for the past couple of elections and are allowed to count votes early.
However, states such as Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania cannot count their ballots until Election Day which signals that we won’t see their full results until a couple of days after the election, at best.
There is this fear that a scenario called the ‘Red Mirage’ will appear where it looks like Trump will win the election due to states counting Election Day votes before early votes.
If this scenario was to happen, it would cause great distrust amongst Trump supporters and get a rise out of people who prefer Biden at the start of the controversy.
Trump has also stated that he is not sure if he will accept defeat due to his concern of mail-in ballot fraud.
This is simply a red herring. The voter fraud rate according to The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think-tank, is approximately 0.0000007% for mail-in voting since 1976.
And the last indicator that Biden will beat Trump is something people tend to overlook. Biden is performing better with white voters than Clinton ever did and many of those white voters are coming from the suburbs.
Whoever wins the suburbs wins the election.
This was the case in the 2018 midterms where most of the areas that flipped were the suburbs which got the Democrats to win back the House, especially since Democrats tied with Republicans on white women where Trump won them by 10 points.
Democrats also won in Arizona’s Senate race, Michigan’s Governor race, and Wisconsin’s Governor race. All of these seats were controlled by Republicans before.
Since we’re also in such partisan times, whoever wins the state will most likely have a senator elected in that state of the same party.
Finally, Americans believe that the United States is worse off than it was 4 years ago, which will ultimately show in the 2020 election.
Vote your conscience because when you do, the results will show the American people are committed to going back to a sense of normalcy.
And if you feel like everyone thinks they’re a political expert every 4 years, you’re not wrong.