On November 3, numerous elections will take place across the country. Democrat Joe Biden is leading a strong challenge against Republican President Donald Trump. Biden currently leads Trump in the national polls by around 8%, but what matters is the Electoral College, not the popular vote. Very simply, the Electoral College is a system that gives each state a certain number of votes. If a candidate wins a state, they win all of the state’s votes. Whoever is able to get a majority of the total votes, 270 out of 538, wins the election.
Additionally, various elections are occurring in the US Congress. In the Senate, 35 seats are are up for grabs. Every 2 years, roughly 1/3 of the seats are up for election. Democrats only have 47 seats in the Senate, but they can win a majority if they have a net gain of 3 seats. This is because the President of the Senate can break a tie if the vote is 50-50. The Vice President fulfills this role, and since Biden is widely believed to win, Democrats need just 50 seats to win the Senate.
In the House of Representatives, all 435 seats are up this year, since the terms for US Representatives is 2 years. In 2018, a blue wave swept the House, giving a large majority to the Democrats. Since they are essentially guaranteed to keep the House this year, this article will aim at predicting the presidential and senatorial elections. Before I begin, I would like to preface with some background information about voter suppression. It can often influence the outcome of an election, and understanding it is key in order to predict elections.
Trump and Republicans have loudly accused mail-in voting of being fraudulent. However, study after study shows that mail-in voting is safe. Examples of voter fraud are exceedingly rare, for voting in general as well as voting by mail. Some states use mail-in voting entirely, and tens of millions of mailed ballots were used in 2016 and 2018 without issue. Despite this, Republicans have tried to discredit or throw out mailed votes, including in key swing states.
During normal years, Democrats primarily use mail-in voting. This year, since Democrats are also more worried about COVID, they are much more likely to use mail than Republicans. Because of this, many worry that Republican attempts to discredit mail-in voting are attempts at voter suppression. Most worrying are the actions of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a Trump loyalist. After assuming office, DeJoy implemented several controversial changes to the USPS to save costs. This significantly hindered the mail system in numerous ways, causing delays. These delays are especially worrying in terms of the election. Trump and Republicans have called for the election to be called on Election Day, rather than wait for more votes to be counted. Because of this, states have implemented deadlines for how late mail can arrive. Mail ballots may not arrive in time to be counted because of delays, making them invalid.
Additionally, the delays and the huge number of mail-in ballots to be counted will make it very difficult to definitively know the winner on Election Day. Republicans will likely lead on Election Day, with Democrats surging afterwards because they are more likely to vote by mail. Because of this, Republicans have hinted at declaring victory early on, which could create legal and real chaos. This is worrisome and unprecedented, especially since results are never fully known on Election Day.
Voter ID Laws
The discrediting of mail-in voting is just one form of suppression, but others exist too, particularly in the South. Very briefly, in 2011, the Supreme Court struck down a provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The provision prevented states with a history of suppression from changing their voting laws without the consent of the federal government. After the provision was struck down, Southern states in particular began enacting strict voter ID laws. These laws require identification (driver’s license, birth certificate, etc.) that some may not have, find too expensive, or take too long to acquire. These limitations tend to be more prevalent among minority voters. Minorities often tend to vote democratic, in contrast to the Republicans who are enacting the voter ID laws. Because of this, many worry that these laws are meant to suppress the minority vote.
Lastly, I will be discussing the closing of polling stations in the country. In the news, many may hear about voters waiting in incredibly long lines. Almost always, this is because of the unnecessary closing of polling stations. Usually, there are too few stations in large cities, which are often racially diverse and Democratic. This creates long lines that can prohibit city dwellers from voting. They may simply not have the time to spend waiting, and the idea of standing for hours on end is pretty demoralizing. This tends to occur, once again, in Southern states, and especially in Texas. By 2019, Texas had the highest number of polling closures in the South.
Accuracy of Polling
Many think of Trump’s victory in 2016 when calling polling inaccurate, but this is largely a misconception. For one, polling was mostly accurate. It skewed to the left but results were often within the margin of error. Admittedly, some states were polled very wrongly, like Wisconsin and Iowa. This will be taken into account in my prediction. 2016 was also incredibly close. In total, Clinton only needed 80,000 spread across Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania to win them. Had she won them, she would have won the presidency.
Polling is largely meant to be a consensus on the favorability of a candidate. Hillary was largely disliked, especially right before the election. The week before, the FBI announced that it was reopening investigations into Clinton’s emails. Clinton’s unlikability made Democratic moderates unwilling to vote for her, thinking that she would win anyway. This resulted in historically low Democratic turnout. While Clinton led Trump in most polls, independents, and undecided voters decided the election for Trump. After the FBI’s announcement, they split for Trump significantly more than for Clinton.
Following the erroneous predictions of polling in 2016, pollsters have most likely refined their methods. In 2016, a number of polls overestimated Democrats, likely due to some of their small sample sizes, which can overrepresent city dwellers. By 2020, sample sizes have increased across the country. In contrast to presidential poll inaccuracies, polls for senate and governor races are often much more accurate and reliable.
The polling I will use is from FiveThirtyEight, a fairly reliable source which gave Trump a nearly 30% chance of winning in 2016. One thing to always remember is that, just because something is unlikely to happen, doesn’t mean it won’t happen. Polls are obviously not infallible, and upsets can and will occur.
2016 vs 2020
This year should be significantly different from 2016. Clinton led Trump nationally by about 4% in the polls by Election Day. Today, Biden leads by over 8%. In states were Clinton was excepted to win, Biden has significantly higher odds than her. Unlike Clinton, Biden has had no major October surprise. Meanwhile, Trump caught COVID in early October, preventing him from campaigning for almost 2 weeks. This lost time may have decided the election already. Most importantly, Democratic turnout and fundraising has broken records across the country. Following the tragic passing of civil rights icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Biden and Democrats made historic fundraising in the tens of millions of dollars. Outrage from Ginsburg’s replacement and calls to go vote have already made an impact on voter turnout, as seen from early voting and mail-in voting numbers across the country.
Finally, we shall delve into the map-making. I will use 4 categories to define the likelihood of a party winning a state: Safe, Likely, Lean and Tilt. Safe states are states in which it is virtually impossible for the projected winner to lose. Likely states are not entirely safe, but they are very unlikely to vote the other party. Lean states are where the opponent is within a very close margin to the projected winner. The election is most likely going to the projected winner, but the opponent has a good chance at claiming victory. Lastly, Tilt is this map’s version of a tossup. Essentially, one candidate has a very slight lead, but it is almost a 50-50 between them and their opponent. For this map, high rated polling, historical voting, and expert opinions will be used.
Safe and Likely States
Biden has a considerable lead against Trump in safe states’ votes. I consider 212 votes to be safe for Biden. Of these, 20 come from Illinois, home to Chicago; 29 come from New York; and 55 come from the massive state of California. Nevada, New Hampshire, and Minnesota (6 and 4 votes, respectively) are likely for Biden. They were close in 2016 but went to Clinton, and Biden’s poll leads are much higher than Clinton’s.
Trump sorely lacks Biden’s safe votes, instantly putting him at a disadvantage. He has 110 on the map. 11 come from Indiana, Vice President Mike Pence’s home state. Montana and Alaska are likely for Trump (3 votes each) but not safe because of the rise of prominent and moderate Democrats there.
Maine’s 2nd Congressional District (Tilt/Tossup: Trump)
Maine is unlike most states in that it splits its electoral votes between the entire state as well as its congressional districts. In other words, Maine statewide has 2 votes, and each of its districts has 1 vote. While Maine statewide and Maine’s 1st District are virtually guaranteed for Biden, Maine’s 2nd District is much closer.
Historically, the District has been very blue, but from 2012 to 2016, it flipped a whopping 19% from Obama to Trump. Very little quality polling was done, but it averaged to around a 1% lead for Clinton. Instead, the District voted for Trump by 10%. Clinton only carried the state by 3%. Maine also has a Republican Senator, Susan Collins, although she is a moderate who is also facing a challenging reelection this year. Most importantly, however, is the fact that counties in the 2nd District have voted Republican in recent senatorial and gubernatorial elections.
Currently, Biden is leading in the District by about 3%, although the polling is sparse and could be very wrong like in 2016. As stated earlier, the rest of Maine is voting blue, and Collins may lose her seat to Democrat Sara Gideons. Democrat results in these elections would worsen Trump’s chances in the District. Lastly, the state’s Democrat Governor Janet Mills and Senator Angus King, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, indicate a Democratic presence in the state and the District.
The massive shift from 2012 to 2016 and the polling errors from 2016 indicate a Trump victory in ME-2 again.
Pennsylvania (Lean: Biden)
Pennsylvania is one of the Rust Belt States that Clinton lost in 2016. Trump outperformed the polls, winning by .72% when expected to lose by about 5.5%. As a result, the state swung 6% to the right from 2016. Its Republican Senator, Pat Toomey, won reelection in 2016, although it was by a smaller margin than his earlier victory in 2010. Polls indicated him losing by 1.5%, but instead he won by 1.5%. Because of these poll errors, Biden’s current 7% lead is not too safe. Trump also managed to take Pennsylvania through last-minute rallies and visits. This year, he is repeating his strategy to try and maintain this key swing state.
Despite polling errors, even if the 2016 error was applied this year, Biden would still win. Considering the failure of the polls in 2016, it is likely that pollsters have refined their methods to improve their accuracy. With this in mind, it is important to point out that Biden, a much more favored candidate than Clinton, has a slightly larger lead than she had. Combined with improved polling, this would make Biden’s polling lead much more trustworthy. Additionally, its Democrat Governor Tom Wolf and Senator Bob Casey Jr. strengthened their positions in the state with larger reelection margins in 2018.
Even if polling errors from 2016 continued, Biden would still win the state this year. Strengthening Democratic numbers from senators and governors indicate a Biden victory.
North Carolina (Tilt/Tossup: Biden)
In 2016, the state swung about 1.5% to the right from 2012, although this was much less than other states. However, Clinton was expected to win by 1% but lost nearly 4%. This kind of error today would give Biden’s 3% lead to Trump. Both of the state’s senators are Republican, with Thom Tillis up for reelection this year.
Despite the possibility of a polling error, Biden and Democrats have a strong chance in North Carolina. Biden is currently leading, as well as fellow Democrats Cal Cunningham and Roy Cooper. Cunningham is challenging Tillis for his Senate seat, and Cooper is expected to win reelection by a much bigger margin than his first victory in 2016. Additionally, the Democrats successfully extended the deadline for mail-in ballots to be received to November 12th. They will be counted so long as they are postmarked for November 3rd.
Thanks to a lengthy extension of the mail-in deadline, a decently-sized lead, and fellow state Democrats, Biden may likely pick up North Carolina.
Georgia (Tilt/Tossup: Biden)
According to polling, Trump leads narrowly by 1%. Georgia is historically red, and it currently has 2 Republican senators and 1 Republican governor. More importantly, however, is the level of suppression in the state. Poll closures are common, leading to incredibly long lines, and it has several restrictive voter ID laws. Most controversially, Georgia purged over 500,000 voters from voter rolls in 2018. Of these, more than 100,000 were purged for not voting in 2016 and for failing to respond to mail notices from the state. This was overseen by Secretary of State Brian Kemp after he had announced his bid for governorship. Mail-in votes must be received when polls close on Election Day, despite any possible delays in the mail system.
Despite the suppression, voter turnout in Georgia has been very high. Georgia’s red history is being challenged with recent elections. In 2016, while Georgia voted for Trump, it was one of the few states to swing to the left from 2012, voting nearly 3% to the left from the last presidential election. Additionally, polls overestimated Trump’s lead in Georgia by 1%. If the same error carried over to today, Biden could be in the lead. Next, winning margins for Republican incumbents and newcomers have decreased over time. Both Georgian Senate seats are up for election, and both are more likely to be picked up by the Democrats. If they go blue, it will help Biden’s chances in Georgia significantly.
Georgia’s history of conservatism and suppression may point towards a Trump victory, although a Biden victory is slightly more likely thanks to huge voter turnout, a recent blue shift in voting, and the chances of Democrat Senators winning.
Florida (Tilt/Tossup: Trump)
Florida shifted to the right in 2016, although only by 2% from 2012. Trump outperformed polling, winning by 1.2% when expected to lose by about 1%. Currently, both senators and the governor are Republican. In 2018, former Governor Rick Scott ousted incumbent Senator Bill Nelson by an incredibly small margin of .12%. The results defied the polls, which predicted a nearly 4.5% win for Nelson. This year, Governor Ron DeSantis ordered not to count mail-in votes if they are received after polls close. Lastly, while early voting has certainly been huge, only .3% more registered Democrats have voted than registered Republicans. Republicans are much more likely to vote on Election Day, likely giving Trump a victory in Florida.
Biden currently leads in Florida by about 3.5%, meaning that he would still win if the error from 2016 polling carried over to this year. Polls expected Clinton to win by less than 1%, which is much less than Biden’s current lead. It probably has to do with popularity among important demographics in Florida, mainly Hispanics and the elderly. While Biden is not doing as well as Clinton with Hispanics, he is doing significantly well with the elderly in Florida.
Republican voter turnout in early voting, in addition to the likelihood of high polling errors, may likely give Florida to Trump. However, Biden’s poll lead and success with the elderly may solidify on Election Day. For me, Florida is the tightest race of the election.
Ohio (Tilt/Tossup: Trump)
In one of the biggest swings of 2016, Trump managed to shift Ohio to the right by 11% from 2012. Trump also defied polling by a large margin, winning by 7% more than what was predicted. If this inaccuracy carried over to polling today, Biden would have a very small chance at winning Ohio. Today’s polls are essentially 50-50, giving Biden a minute edge. One of Ohio’s senators, Rob Portman, and Governor Mike DeWine are Republican, giving Trump a home advantage.
Despite this, Biden has a decent chance in a usually red state. Democrat Senator Sherrod Brown has enjoyed fairly sized reelection margins. The governor seat swung from voting by 30% for former Governor John Kasich to just 4% for Governor Mike DeWine. Kasich, a moderate Republican, has also loudly endorsed Biden, speaking for him at the DNC. Additionally, mail-in voting will still be counted even if it is received as late as Friday the 13th, so long as the ballots are postmarked for Election Day.
Ohio is the closest in polling in 2020, but polling inaccuracies in a usually red state may give it to Trump, despite support from Kasich and an extended deadline for mail-in voting.
Michigan (Lean: Biden)
Returning to 2016, Michigan swung far to the right from the 2012 election and from polling. A nearly 10% swing from 2012 gave Michigan to Trump. Clinton was expected to win by about 5.5%, but instead lost by a mere .23% of the vote. Additionally, mail-in voting will only be counted if it is received on Election Day.
Biden’s advantages in Michigan are significant. For one, Biden is polling at 8% ahead of Trump, much more than Clinton’s 5.5%. He also has a significant home advantage, with two Democratic senator and a Democrat governor. Polling expects Senator Gary Peters to win reelection in Michigan by a similar margin as Biden. Peters’ victory should significantly help Biden’s chances at winning. Lastly, Michigan is experiencing historic voter turnout, apart from mail-in voting.
Biden’s poll lead, home advantage thanks to fellow Democrats, and votes from historic turnout almost make Michigan likely for Biden. However, it will be lean due to the possibility of polling errors.
Wisconsin (Tilt/Tossup: Biden)
Wisconsin was the subject of 2 major upsets in 2016. Despite Clinton leading by 8%, she lost the state by .72% of the vote. This was an astounding 9% difference between polling and the results. The senatorial race between Incumbent Senator Ron Johnson and Democratic challenger Russ Feingold resulted in Johnson’s victory of 3.5%. This was despite polling giving Feingold a nearly 10% victory. Johnson gives Trump a home field advantage as a fellow Republican. Lastly, Wisconsin will not accept mail-in ballots after Election Day.
Many may consider 2016’s polling errors enough to completely discount Biden’s polls in Wisconsin. However, Senator Tammy Baldwin’s 2018 victory in Wisconsin was almost the exact same to the race’s poll averages. Additionally, Governor Gary Peters narrowly beat incumbent Republican Governor Scott Walker. However, polling overestimated Peters’ victory by about 2.5%. Baldwin and Peters’ presence in the state will give Biden electoral support. Because of the 2018 elections, Wisconsin’s polls should be much more accurate. They currently give Biden an 8% lead, with it actually growing over time rather than narrowing up for Trump.
Despite a clear polling lead and a Democratic home field advantage for Biden, I will not give Wisconsin a likely or lean rating. I will give it a tilt/tossup because of the possibility of completely incorrect polling and because of the strictness with mail-in voting.
Iowa (Lean: Trump)
Starting with 2016, Trump swept Iowa. He swung it 15% from 2012 and defied polling in favor of Clinton by nearly 10%. Iowa’s governor and 2 senators are Republican, and the state is usually a deep and reliably red state. Because of this, moderates and independents are more likely to split for Trump than for Biden. Overall, poll averages place Trump and Biden neck and neck. However, the most recent polling gives Trump a huge edge. Additionally, mail-in voting no longer counts if it is received after polls close on Election Day.
Biden does have a slight edge over Trump in polling. Thanks to the extremely competitive Senate race between Incumbent Republican Joni Ernst and Democratic challenger Theresa Greenfield, Democrats have been campaigning and fundraising very hard in Iowa.
Despite the competitive Senate race, Trump leads Biden in the latest polls and Iowa’s historically red nature will likely decide Iowa’s electoral votes for Trump.
Nebraska’s 2nd District (Tilt/Tossup: Biden)
Like Maine, Nebraska’s electoral votes are split between the state and its congressional districts. The state as a whole receives 2 votes, and each of Nebraska’s 3 districts has 1 vote.
Nebraska is a solidly red state, one that easily went to Trump in 2016. The Republican governor and senators’ presences influence the election, and Republicans have been reliably voted in. The district itself is represented by Republican Representative Don Bacon, who won reelection in 2018 and is projected to win again this year.
Separate from the rest of Nebraska, the District voted left from 2012 in 2016. The 5% swing defied 1 major poll conducted that drastically favored Trump. Trump only won the District by 2% in 2016. In comparison, polling today gives Biden a nearly 5% lead. The District surrounds the growing city of Omaha, likely making the District more reliable for future Democrats.
Biden’s polling lead and the growing population of Omaha place Nebraska’s 2nd District in Biden’s column. However, the deep red of Nebraska may seep into the District, especially considering their Republican Representative.
Texas (Tilt/Tossup: Trump)
Texas is the Republicans’ California, a historically red stronghold with plenty of Electoral College votes. Governor Greg Abbot and Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn are Republican. Cornyn will very likely win reelection, which should help Trump’s chances. As a historically red state, independents and moderates may also split more for Trump than for Biden.
Abbott and Republicans have done much to suppress the vote. Republicans tried, unsuccessfully, to discount 127,000 curbside votes in Harris County in Houston. As aforementioned, Texas has an incredibly high number of poll closures. This year, Abbott implemented an exemption for mask-wearing during voting and Republicans have tried throwing out mailed votes. The governor has also discounted worries over COVID as a reasonable excuse for mail-in voting. These ballots won’t be accepted after November 4th. This, combined with the exemption for mask-wearing, has generated worries of suppression.
However, Texas may actually not be so red. This election cycle, Democrats have been pushing and campaigning incredibly hard for Texas. The result has been tremendous voter turnout, already surpassing 2016’s numbers despite voter suppression. While it is historically red, Texas has been shifting left in the last decade. It swung nearly 7% left from 2012 to 2016. Cruz and Abbott’s winning margins were significantly smaller in their re-elections. Polling has also overestimated Republicans’ winning margins. They expected Cruz to win by 5% but he only won by 2.5%. Trump was expected to win by 10% but only won by 9%. Trump currently leads by about 1.7%, putting it dangerously close for Biden.
As a deep red state, troubled with voter suppression, Texas is likely to vote Trump this year. However, record breaking turnout and a blue shift over the last decade could give Biden the key to the Republican stronghold.
Arizona (Lean: Biden)
Arizona has a history voting red. In 2016, it swung nearly 13% from 2012 to vote for Trump. Polling suggested a neck-and-neck victory for Trump, but he defied the polls by winning by over 3%. Biden is currently leading by 4%, but if this error carries over, Biden could be in trouble. Its Republican governor Doug Ducey was first elected in 2014 and re-elected with a bigger margin in 2018. Arizona has also proudly voted for Senator John McCain many times, although he was a very moderate Republican.
Despite this, Biden has a significant lead over Trump. If polling has improved from 2016, his 4% lead is significant. Regarding Senators, Biden’s chances improve. Democrat Krysten Sinema filled a previously Republican seat in 2018, and currently, Mark Kelly will very likely fill the other red seat. McCain’s influence after his tragic passing lives on in Arizona. His widow Cindy has endorsed Biden, and many Arizonans were infuriated by Trump’s lack of respect to McCain, especially after his death.
As a usually red state, Trump may have chance in Arizona. However, deep respect in Arizona for McCain’s legacy and Trump’s disrespect of it has alienated Trump from voters. Thanks to prominent Democrats, Arizona will likely continue its blue shift.
Conclusion on the Presidential Election
With Arizona in Biden’s column, he breaches the 270 mark for victory with votes from at least lean-rated states (279 votes). The final tally is 305 for Biden and 233 for Trump, giving Biden a landslide in the popular vote and the Electoral College.
Safe and Likely Seats
Starting with the Democrats, I am giving them 10 safe seats and 3 likely seats. The categorizations of safe, likely, lean, and tilt/tossup will be the same for the senatorial elections. Michigan would be a safe state except for 1 close poll. Colorado is a likely blue state that is currently held by Republican Cory Gardner, making it a flip for the Democrats. In Arizona, a special election is happening between former astronaut Mark Kelly and Senator Martha McSally. After McCain’s unfortunate passing, McSally was appointed to fill his position by Governor Doug Ducey. McSally was a poor replacement of McCain’s moderate values and she was not elected by Arizonans, leading to her fall in disfavor.
For the Republicans, I am giving them 10 safe seats and 3 likely seats. In Kentucky, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is up against Democrat Amy McGrath. Despite McGrath’s conservative leanings, $50 million in Democratic fundraising, and the low approval of McConnell, he is expected to carry Kentucky in a landslide, making Kentucky safe for Republicans. In Alabama in 2017, Democrat Doug Jones won Alabama against Roy Moore, who was accused of sexual assault and harassment of teenage girls. Jones won narrowly, but he is unlikely to win again this year against Republican Tommy Tuberville. In Texas, MJ Hegar is leading a decent attempt at Incumbent John Cornyn’s seat. Unlike the 2018 Senate election, however, Hegar lacks Beto O’Rourke’s charisma and Cornyn lacks Ted Cruz’s unlikability and spinelessness.
The only 4 lean seats on the electoral map are Republican. From safest to weakest lean Republican seat, there is Kansas, Alaska, South Carolina, and Montana.
In Alaska, very few polls have been conducted, but the few that exist indicate a mediocre Republican presence. The state has been shifting blue in presidential, senate, and governor elections, enough to be considered lean.
South Carolina has been especially interesting. Throughout the 2016 election cycle, Senator Lindsay Graham repeatedly and vehemently criticized and insulted Trump. However, Graham’s attitude towards Trump changed dramatically during Trump’s presidency. This prompted criticism that Graham had switched only to keep power and favor with the President. National attitude led to Democrats fielding Jaime Harrison against Graham. Over $50 million were raised for Harrison, and he did excellently in debates in calling out Graham’s hypocrisy. However, South Carolina, a deeply red state, will most likely not fall for the Democrats.
Lastly, Montana is probably the closest due to the unique political nature of the state. Former Governor Steve Bullock is running against Incumbent Steve Daines. Bullock is renowned in Montana, as he is a very moderate Democrat. However, polls over time have leaned in Daines’ favor over the last few months, making it more likely for Daines to win.
Maine (Tilt/Tossup: Democratic)
Republican incumbent Susan Collins is facing a tough challenge from Democrat Sara Gideons in the fight for Maine’s Senate seat. Collins is a long-term incumbent with widespread appeal across the state thanks to her moderate views. Frequently, she is one of the few Republican senators to break from the overall vote. Most importantly, she voted to keep the ACA in 2017 rather than repeal it. Her vote, in addition to McCain’s vote, kept the ACA alive in a 49-51 vote in the Senate. Additionally, thanks to the state’s growing 2nd District, she may have a more Republican base to depend on to vote for her.
Collins is trailing against her opponent by about 3.5%. With Trump expected to lose Maine, may likely bring down Collins too. This is compounded by the presence of Democratic Governor Janet Mills and Senator Angus King. Additionally, despite her bipartisanship, Collins has lost a lot of her usual Democratic support. Most damaging to Collins’ reelection chances was her vote to confirm Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. In 2017, she also voted in favor of Trump’s tax cuts. These votes alienated many of her voters, and they still haunt her today.
Former Maine Speaker of the House, Sara Gideons is somewhat more likely to defeat Susan Collins. Collins’ votes have dissuaded her usual voters; however, she may still have enough support to pull off a reelection.
North Carolina (Tilt/Tossup: Democratic)
Incumbent Thom Tillis is facing a significant threat to his seat from Democrat Cal Cunningham. Tillis has the home advantage as incumbent. The presence of fellow Senator Richard Burr, a Republican, will also help Tillis, and if Trump manages to win North Carolina, Tillis may likely achieve reelection. Additionally, Cunningham faced some controversy over the reveal of an extramarital affair he had.
While traditionally Republican, North Carolina has shifted noticeably Democratic this year. Governor Roy Cooper defeated a Republican incumbent in 2016 and is expected to win reelection this year by an even bigger margin. Additionally, Biden has a higher chance than Trump to carry the state. Cooper and Biden’s chances considerably increase Cunningham’s reelection chances. Regarding his affair, polling for Cunningham did not noticeably decrease or change. More importantly, Tillis caught COVID in early October, preventing him from campaigning for an entire week. Cunningham leads by about 4.5%, which should be enough to counteract any major polling error from 2016 or 2018. Lastly, thanks to North Carolina’s mail-in voting rules, Cunningham is more likely to secure Democratic votes from late mail.
Tillis’ unpopularity in a growingly Democratic state will likely give Cunningham the election, especially since Cunningham is set to win by a considerable margin that will counteract any polling errors.
Georgia (Tilt/Tossup: Republican)
Georgia is one of the closest races in the country, both on the presidential and senatorial level. Incumbent David Purdue is running against Democrat challenger Jon Ossoff. Purdue has the advantage of running for reelection in a traditionally Republican state, with the help of Governor Brian Kemp and fellow Senator Kelly Loeffler, both of whom are Republican. Lastly, the role of voter suppression will be important in deciding the President and the next senator. As stated earlier, voter roll purges and poll closures have been incredibly high in the state.
Georgia is a rapidly changing state, shifting to the left over the last decade. It swung 2 points to the left in 2016 from 2012, and Republican reelection margins have been smaller since 2014. Ossoff also has a very slight polling lead. While polling tends to skew Democratic, polling overestimated Trump’s chances in 2016 by about 1%. Despite the long lines, voter turnout has been high. Lastly, Ossoff himself is a very strong candidate, especially against Purdue. Ossoff had a standout moment in his most recent debate with Purdue. He grilled Purdue for insider trading and for failing to fight COVID in Georgia. It was so bad for Purdue, that he pulled out of the next debate. Ossoff’s fundraising momentum may be enough to get him a victory in Georgia.
While Georgia is currently and historically a red state, riddled with voter suppression; however, Georgia’s blue shift over the last few years in addition to Ossoff’s momentum give him a slight edge over Purdue.
Georgia Special (Tilt/Tossup: Democratic)
In 2019, Republican Senator Johnny Isakson resigned health concerns. Governor Kemp replaced him with Kenny Loeffler, and a special election was mandated to be held in 2020, according to Georgia law. The election did not have a primary, instead, all candidates who run can be voted for. If no candidate wins a majority (50% of the vote) then a runoff election will be held between the top 2 candidates.
At first, 4 major candidates were expected to have a chance at winning. Senator Loeffler was being challenged by Republican Doug Collins, who has a slight chance at possibly getting a larger vote than Loeffler. She has been unpopular in Georgia, and Collins is the Republican response to her. As an unelected official, she does not have widespread support from Georgians. Loeffler is more likely than Collins to get to the runoff election, but her unpopularity may prevent Republicans from coalescing around her.
In contrast, two Democrats were originally in the running: Matt Lieberman and Raphael Warnock. At first, many believed Loeffler or Collins would place in the first two spots, guaranteeing a Republican victory in the runoff election. However, thanks to large profile endorsements from Obama and others, the Democrats coalesced around Warnock, who has skyrocketed in polling. He is essentially guaranteed a spot in the runoff vote thanks to his huge leads against all other challengers, but he most likely won’t win a majority. In a runoff, he leads by about 7% against either Loeffler or Collins. Warnock has incredible fundraising and political momentum, and he will likely persevere against either Republican challenger. However, since plenty can happen before the runoff, I will only give a tossup chance to Warnock.
Iowa (Tossup: Republican)
Incumbent Joni Ernst is facing a strong challenge from Theresa Greenfield in one of the most surprisingly close elections of the year. However, Ernst has a slight edge over Greenfield that will likely give Republicans a victory. As aforementioned, Iowa is a traditionally red state where polling vastly overestimated Democratic chances. The state swung a whole 15% from Obama in 2012 to Trump in 2016, and polling was off by about 10%. Polling averages give Greenfield a very small lead, but the most recent polling indicates a Republican victory.
While Ernst is more likely to win, Greenfield still has a significant chance at winning. The state has shifted to the left in margins for senatorial and gubernatorial elections. The best example of this is the recent governor’s race. While Governor Terry Branstad won reelection in a 20% landslide in 2014, his successor, Kim Reynolds only won by 2.8% in 2014. Greenfield also has one of the strongest momentums of Democratic challengers in the country. With Democrats aiming to flip a Republican seat, Iowa has been one of the most expensive senatorial races despite its relatively small population of 3 million.
Conclusion on the Senatorial Election
The final results give Democrats a 52 seat majority in the Senate. This majority could give Democrats a huge advantage in deciding important legislation and action. 2 moderate Democrats, Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Jon Tester of Montana, could possibly vote against some of the Democrats’ more ambitious goals. With 52 seats, Democrats could counteract their possible vote and achieve their vision. This could include expanding the Supreme Court, making Puerto Rico or DC a state, and implement key infrastructure that has been stuck in Congress for years.
For months, many have been dreading the potential chaos from the aftermath of this election. Biden is guaranteed a popular vote victory, but if he loses the electoral college like Clinton did, the outrage would spark protesting, riots, and violence across the country. The mass discrediting of mail-in voting could strengthen the potential outrage.
The possible outcomes of the likely blue election will be truly generation defining. One of the Democrats’ first priorities would be expanding the Supreme Court. This would mean the protection of human rights and dignity. A democratic Supreme Court would protect young immigrants through DACA. Healthcare for millions through the ACA (Obamacare) would be protected and expanded. It would uphold gay marriage through Obergefell v. Hodges, and keep a woman’s right to choose through Roe v. Wade.
3 million US citizens in Puerto Rico and the 700,00 in DC would likely finally receive statehood. As US citizens, they aren’t given their full rights. Neither has a voting voice in Congress, since they don’t have senators or representatives. DC has the unique situation of not being able to choose its local affairs. The liberal city is often undercut by the conservative Senate, which gets the final say on DC’s laws and budgets. Puerto Ricans don’t have the ability to vote in Presidential elections. This disenfranchises 3 million American votes.
This is just my opinion, but hopefully, Biden and the Democrats are able to win the presidency and the Senate to restore and instill our founding values. We can fight global warming, restore our standing in the world, and successfully end the COVID pandemic.