The Race is Set
The Trump campaign is in overdrive. The president is holding multiple rallies a day, hoping to cut into Biden’s lead just two weeks before voters issue their verdict.
There’s only one problem — the final two weeks don’t really matter. Historically, anyway. Let’s look at how much the polling average has changed in the fifteen days before an election, courtest of FiveThirtyEight.
(Year, Fifteen Days Before, Election Day, Change)
Clinton +6.9, Clinton +3.8 (Change: 3.1)
Romney +1.2, Obama +0.4 (Change 1.6)
Obama +6.8, Obama +7.1 (Change 0.3)
Bush +2.4, Bush +1.6 (Change 0.8)
Bush +2.7, Bush +3.5 (Change 0.8)
Clinton +14.9, Clinton +12.8 (Change 2.1)
Clinton +14.1, Clinton +7.1 (Change 7.0)
Bush +11.8, Bush +10.4 (Change 1.4)
Reagan +16.7, Reagan +18.0 (Change 1.3)
Reagan +2.3, Reagan +2.1 (Change 0.2)
Carter +2.0, Carter +0.8 (Change 1.2)
Nixon +25.5, Nixon +24.1 (Change 1.4)
Over the last forty years, the average “swing” before an election has always been between 0.2 and 2.1 points with only two exceptions. (Biden currently leads Trump by 10.7 points.)
Even worse for Trump, a variety of factors makes this year even less likely to be an outlier. A record-shattering 28 million votes have already been cast, making any potential “October surprise” that much less impactful. Only about 3% of voters remain undecided, according to a recent poll. Given that millions have already voted, and there are very few voters that are persuadable, Trump may be in trouble.
Multiple daily rallies and putting all of your chips behind this week’s debate isn’t a winning strategy, it’s a desperate one. The president is simply down too much, too late.
Trump has acknowledged that he may lose. “Could you imagine if I lose?” Trump said this week. “My whole life, what am I going to do? I’m going to say, ‘I lost to the worst candidate in the history of politics.’ I’m not going to feel so good. Maybe I’ll have to leave the country. I don’t know.”
There is one benefit to Trump’s current position. He is in a familiar, previously fruitful role — that of an underdog. He may never have majority support in this country, but he is at his most dangerous when he is counted out.
It may just be too late.