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Analysis | Joe Biden Won And It Wasn't Particularly Close

It just seemed that way - just like we warned you it would.

For one thing, most of the swing states counted Election Day votes first, which overwhelmingly skewed Republican. Now imagine a scenario in which every state preprocessed the early, mail-in votes like Florida did - the race would've been called before midnight.

Indeed, it appears that the final electoral vote total will be 306 to 232, the exact same totals in 2016. No one said that election was close then because the vast majority of votes were counted by midnight instead of in a days-long, drawn-out process that created the illusion that the margins were alternately shrinking and expanding in the states that mattered. It was a false drama, abetted by a media afraid to just come out and say what was readily apparent.

The reality is that many of us didn't get it as wrong as a lot of folks seem to think. Let's take a look by reviewing my pre-election analysis point by point.

1. Polling.

There clearly was polling error. Pollsters failed to detect Trump's inroads with Latinos in particular, including in the Rio Grande Valley and Houston, which skewed predictions of a possible BLEXAS.

2. Independents.

Biden won independents by the biggest margins since Bill Clinton in 1996 - by 14 points, according to a CBS exit poll, which is a whopping 10 points more than Trump did in 2016.

3. Ann Selzer.

Selzer's final poll for the Des Moines Register - considered the gold standard of polling - got the final result right, despite widespread skepticism that it was an outlier: Trump won Iowa by 8.2 percent, even higher than Selzer's predicted 7 percent margin.

But she badly missed elsewhere on the ballot. The GOP winning the state's 1st Congressional District by 15 points? The final margin was 2.6.

Selzer may have been vindicated overall, but the math that got her there still seems suspect - and the skepticism of her work was warranted.

4. The margin of error.

Biden was mostly outside the margins of error across swing states in the polling which ultimately skewed more in his favor, and he had the cushion to allow for a correction.

5. The Blue Wall.

The blue firewall held, with Biden returning Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania to the fold, while flipping Georgia, Arizona and Nebraska's second district. Trump failed to flip a single state.

6. Real clear polling averages.

When large enough, national polling margins equate to electoral votes. Unlike Biden, Barack Obama never led by seven in 2008.

7. Turnout.

Both candidates got record turnouts. Biden can claim the most votes ever for a presidential candidate, while Trump can claim the most votes ever for a sitting president. While high turnouts doesn't always guarantee a Democratic victory, it is a leading indicator.

8. Voter suppression.

You can shutter polling locations, lock up voting machines and sabotage the USPS, but a motivated electorate will find a way, and in this case Democrats used all the tools available to them, from early voting to drop-off ballot boxes.

9. Florida.

Trump won Florida and it wasn't a death blow for Biden, nor should anyone have expected it to be. It simply meant Trump was still alive. Miami-Dade underperformed but Pinellas County flipped. We saw in Florida what we would go on to see elsewhere: Trump gaining with Latinos but losing ground in the suburbs and with older white voters.

10. Follow the money.

I wrote how heavily invested I was in the prediction markets and I did spend hours on this. That Selzer poll really pushing and skewing the prices on the contracts after it's release really helped the bullish Biden traders.

An interesting and noteworthy event is that after the Selzer poll dropped, contracts on nearly all the PredictIt markets moved strongly for Trump, some going so far as to flip from Biden, including markets with demographics markedly different than those in Iowa.

The market for "Will Trump Win The Popular Vote In 2020?" even moved up 5 cents from 14 cents per share to 19 cents per share at close after the poll's release on October 31st - and would stay there until the night of the election.

Despite the flurry of concerned and/or panicked texts and e-mails I received on Tuesday evening, I hadn't seen anything alarming. (Editor's Note: True.) The outstanding numbers showed everything was still in line. I had a couple-few beers and slept well, woke up early and watched the mail-in votes begin to be tabulated. The smart money rode the Trump wave and got out and bought Biden low after midnight. The only real concern I had was Arizona maybe flipping back for Trump, and it wasn't until Sunday night that it was no longer in doubt it would remain blue.

I had Biden flipping Arizona, Georgia, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan, and won big there. I had the correct Electoral College margin of victory, which would have been a loser had Arizona flipped back. I had Minnesota right and it was on sale, even though it was never flipping no matter how many "Iron Range" comments were posted all over social media and in the PredictIt comments section.

I had Biden winning in the de facto Biden vs Trump markets. I lost some on Florida and lost big on Texas. I never intended to go long in Texas but the site crashed and I couldn't get off.

What Now?

Democrats need to fix multiple issues. They need to stop taking non-white voters for granted. Many are perplexed that Trump made some inroads here but in reality it's not all that surprising.

They also need to stop blaming progressives for their failures. "The Squad" doubled in size. So far, every House member who backed Medicare For All won their races. Progressive groups themselves are seeing that vote shares for the more conservative Democrats in swing districts declined for them.

The president of the House Majority Super PAC is Robby Mook. This Super PAC's entire existence is to extend gains in the House. Democrats kept the House but lost seats.

Mook, if you recall, is the person who drove Hillary Clinton's campaign into the ground and lost to Trump. Some habits are deadly and just impossible to break.

You have John Kasich on CNN blaming progressives despite him failing to deliver Ohio; meanwhile Ilhan Omar, who won her primary despite all the dark money against her, went out and organized and knocked on doors to help deliver Minnesota.


It's unlikely Dems win both of the Georgia runoffs to win control of the U.S. Senate. Mitch McConnell likely will block everything for Biden's first two years. There's always a wave for the opposing party in the first midterm after a change of power in the White House, so Dems might be even more frustrated in Biden's next two years.

At minimum, though, they can rest easy that Not Trump will be the 46th President of the United States.


Comments welcome.


Posted on November 10, 2020

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