clearn.png
Thursday September 23rd, 2021 7:05AM

Road to 270: Trump's best path to victory hinges on FL, PA

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump still has a path to the 270 Electoral College votes he needs to win reelection. But it requires everything to break in his direction a second time.

Persuadable voters in battleground states will need to overwhelmingly swing in his favor. He'll have to win back crucial voting blocs. And his turnout operation will need to dramatically outperform Democrat Joe Biden's in an extraordinarily turbulent year.

“In 2016, his chances of winning the election were those of drawing an inside straight in poker. ... The question this year is whether he can draw an inside straight two hands in a row," said Whit Ayres a veteran Republican pollster. “It is theoretically possible but practically difficult.”

While Trump has multiple roads to victory, his most likely route hinges on winning two crucial battleground states: Florida and Pennsylvania. If he can claim both and hold onto other Sun Belt states he narrowly carried in 2016 — North Carolina and Arizona — while playing defense in Georgia and Ohio, which he won handily in 2016 but where Biden is now competitive, he will win.

Trump's campaign is also continuing to pour time and money into Wisconsin and Michigan, longtime Democratic strongholds he flipped his way by the slimmest of margins four years ago, while trying to defend Iowa and Maine's second congressional district and grab Nevada and Minnesota, two states his 2016 rival Hillary Clinton narrowly won.

Trump's campaign points to other factors pointing in their favor: The campaign and the Republican Party have spent years investing in a powerful voter outreach operation and have 2.5 million volunteers knocking on millions of doors each week. They have seen spikes in GOP voter registration in several keys states. And Trump voters are more enthusiastic about their candidate than Democrats are about Biden. The Democrats are driven more by their hate for Trump.

“We feel better about our pathway to victory right now than we have at any point in the campaign this year," Trump's campaign manager, Bill Stepien, told staff on a conference call this week. "And this optimism is based on numbers and data, not feel, not sense.”

But polling shows Trump trailing or closely matched in nearly every state he needs to win to reach 270 Electoral College votes. Barring some kind of major upset, Trump needs to hold onto at least one of the three rustbelt states he won in 2016: Pennsylvania Wisconsin or Michigan, said Paul Maslin, a longtime Democratic pollster based in Wisconsin.

“I don't see any other way for Trump to do this," he said.

Fox News polls released Wednesday show Biden with a clear advantage in Michigan and a slight one in Wisconsin. In Pennsylvania, recent polls show Biden ahead but vary on the size of his lead.

For all of that, though, Trump's team can draw comfort from this historical footnote: In all three states, Clinton led in the polls in the final weeks of 2016.

But Trump's “fundamental problem,” said Ayres "is that a large number of states that he won comfortably last time” are currently close.

While Trump's upset win in 2016 still haunts Democrats and has left many voters deeply distrustful of public polls, close watchers of the race stress that 2020 is not 2016.

Biden is better liked than Clinton and polls suggest there are now fewer undecided voters, who broke for Trump in the race's final weeks four years ago. And Clinton was hobbled in the final weeks by a series of setbacks including the late reopening of an FBI investigation into her emails. The impact of any additional “October surprise" this time would be limited by the record number of voters who have already cast their ballots.

Trump's team, for its part, has been working to repair his standing with suburban women and older voters soured by his handling of the pandemic, while trying to boost enthusiasm among targeted groups like Catholic and Second Amendment voters as well as aiming to build support among Black and Latino voters.

“He’s again at the thread-the-needle stage," said Lee M. Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. He noted that because Trump won key states by so few votes last time around, he has very little margin for error.

Still, Miringoff stressed that while many polls may favor Biden, they do not account for “cataclysmic events," such as potential voter suppression, election interference, or court challenges that could halt votes from being counted. Democrats are expected to cast far more ballots by mail, which are rejected at higher rates than in-person ballots, even in normal years.

“The polls could both be right and wrong at the same time,” he said, “because they could poll those who think they voted" but whose votes end up not counted.

With 29 electoral votes, Florida is arguably the most crucial state for Trump. A loss there would make it nearly impossible for him to retain the White House. But the state, which has sided with the winner of nearly every presidential race for decades, is also known for razor-tight elections — most notably in 2000 when Republican George W. Bush defeated Al Gore by 537 votes after a recount.

Both sides point to signs of promise in the state, with Republicans saying they see growing support among Hispanics while Democrats focus on seniors. While polling in early October showed Biden with a slight advantage, two recent polls have the two candidates neck and neck.

“From everything I can see, it’s a statistical tie,” said Jennifer Krantz, a Tampa native and Republican strategist who has worked on multiple state races. If that's the case, she said, ground game could make the difference.

In 2016, Clinton won more votes in the state than Barack Obama in both his races, with commanding leads in Democratic strongholds like Miami-Dade. But Trump ran up the the score with stunning turnout in smaller counties, including across the Florida Panhandle.

Trump's campaign expects do even better this time thanks to a robust turnout operation. Indeed, Republicans say they have registered 146,000 more voters than Democrats since the pandemic hit in March, leaving Democrats with their smallest lead since the state began tracking.

Democrats, meanwhile, hope to run the table when it comes to early voting and vote by mail — though some remain cautious after 2016.

“I think we’re all in this collective PTSD panic," said Democratic strategist Steve Schale, who runs the pro-Biden super PAC “Unite The Country.”

It's a similar story in Pennsylvania, where two recent polls show Biden maintaining a clear lead and another suggests a narrow one. Trump won the state by just over 44,000 votes last time, powered by an overwhelming showing in rural areas and small towns and cities.

Trump's team is counting on those trends to hold this time around.

“It’s déjà vu all over again," said Robert Gleason, the former chair of Pennsylvania's Republican Party who lives in the city and has been helping Trump's campaign “There's a tremendous amount of enthusiasm."

Just as in Florida, while Democrats hold a substantial voter registration edge, Republicans have narrowed their gap by about 200,000 from four years ago, thanks in part to Democratic party-switchers. Trump campaign aides stress that number is five times Trump’s 2016 vote margin.

But Trump's campaign is also facing grimmer prospects in areas like the vote-rich Philadelphia suburbs. And Biden is not Clinton, an historically unpopular candidate who particularly turned off white, working class men. Biden not only comes from the working class bastion of Scranton, but has built his political persona as a champion of those voters and their ideals.

___

AP writers Emily Swanson and Hannah Fingerhut in Washington, Jonathan Lemire in New York and Marc Levy in Harrisburg contributed to this report.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Elections, General Election News, General Presidential Election News, AP Online - Georgia News, AP Online Headlines - Georgia News, AP Elections - Political Conventions, AP Elections - Campaigns
© Copyright 2021 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Road to 270: Trump's best path to victory hinges on FL, PA
President Donald Trump still has a path to the 270 Electoral College votes he needs to win reelection
12:50AM ( 3 minutes ago )
Lowe homers twice, Rays hold off Dodgers 6-4 to even Series
Brandon Lowe homered twice and the Tampa Bay Rays held off the Los Angeles Dodgers 6-4 to square the World Series at one game apiece
12:33AM ( 20 minutes ago )
Face to face: Trump and Biden to meet for final debate
President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden are set to square off in their final debate Thursday
12:24AM ( 30 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
5 questions as Trump and Biden prepare for final debate
President Donald Trump and his Democratic rival Joe Biden meet on the debate stage for the second and final time Thursday night
11:50PM ( 1 hour ago )
US officials link Iran to emails meant to intimidate voters
U.S. officials say Iran is behind a flurry of emails sent to Democratic voters in multiple battleground states that appeared to be aimed at intimidating them into voting for President Donald Trump
11:02PM ( 1 hour ago )
In pitch for Biden, Obama urges voters to cast Trump out
Former President Barack Obama is blasting President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, his culpability in national discord and his overall fitness for the job in his first in-person campaign pitch for Joe Biden, his former vice president
10:29PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Elections
Democrats to boycott Barrett vote, Senate GOP pushes ahead
Senate Democrats are set to boycott voting on Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett at the Senate Judiciary Committee
7:17PM ( 5 hours ago )
In pitch for Biden, Obama urges voters to vote Trump out
Former President Barack Obama is blasting President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, his response to racial unrest and his fundamental unfitness for the job in his first in-person campaign pitch for Joe Biden, his former vice president
7:09PM ( 5 hours ago )
Worsening opioid crisis overshadowed in presidential race
The coronavirus outbreak and the Trump administration's response to the pandemic have been a dominating theme in this year's presidential race
6:53PM ( 6 hours ago )
General Election News
Mission impossible? Welker on tap to moderate second debate
So far this fall, the presidential and vice presidential debates have chewed up some highly experienced journalists chosen to moderate them
12:08PM ( 12 hours ago )
Biden's lessons learned: spending time, money in Midwest
Joe Biden has visited Wisconsin just twice as the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee
11:35AM ( 13 hours ago )
Trump tends to his electoral map, Biden eyes Obama boost
President Donald Trump is hopping from one must-win stop on his electoral map to the next in the leadup to a final presidential debate that may be his last, best chance to alter the trajectory of the 2020 campaign
10:53AM ( 14 hours ago )
General Presidential Election News
Falcons' Morris doesn't look at himself as an interim coach
Raheem Morris would prefer that everyone stay away from that “I” word
6:25PM ( 6 hours ago )
SEC standouts who returned for more finding success so far
DeVonta Smith could be tearing up the NFL instead of the Southeastern Conference
4:34PM ( 8 hours ago )
Coastal Carolina cracks Top 25, poised to keep moving up
Coastal Carolina coach Jamey Chadwell told his team before facing No. 21 Louisiana-Lafayette last week that if they won the game, the Chanticleers could count on getting their first-ever national ranking
4:00PM ( 8 hours ago )
AP Online - Georgia News
In debate countdown, Trump holds rally, Biden does prep
President Donald Trump is wooing Pennsylvania voters, brushing aside debate practice ahead of what may be his last, best chance to alter the trajectory of the race in the final presidential faceoff
9:11PM ( 1 day ago )
In debate countdown, Trump holds rally, Biden hits prep
President Donald Trump is wooing Pennsylvania voters, brushing aside debate practice ahead of what may be his last, best chance to alter the trajectory of the race in the final presidential faceoff
2:40PM ( 1 day ago )
Alaska Senate candidate hopes to ride Democratic wave
Republican U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan is on the defensive in Alaska, a state that has long been a GOP stronghold
12:45PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Elections - Political Conventions
How Trump plowed through $1 billion, losing cash advantage
President Donald Trump’s sprawling political operation raised well over $1 billion since he took the White House in 2017 — and set a lot of it on fire
11:09PM ( 1 day ago )
The Latest: Idaho seeing its biggest case spike of pandemic
Idaho is seeing its largest coronavirus spike since the pandemic began, with the number of new cases increasing 46.5% over the past two weeks
7:31PM ( 1 day ago )
Trump pressures Barr to investigate Bidens as election nears
President Donald Trump is calling on Attorney General William Barr to launch an investigation of Democrat Joe Biden and his son Hunter, effectively demanding that the Justice Department muddy his political opponent and abandon the department's historic resistance to getting involved in elections
3:39PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Elections - Campaigns
Lowe homers twice, Rays hold off Dodgers 6-4 to even Series
Brandon Lowe homered twice and the Tampa Bay Rays held off the Los Angeles Dodgers 6-4 to square the World Series at one game apiece
12:33AM ( 21 minutes ago )
Face to face: Trump and Biden to meet for final debate
President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden are set to square off in their final debate Thursday
12:24AM ( 30 minutes ago )
Wanna go for a walk? Westminster dog show leaves NYC for '21
The Westminster dog show is set to take a long walk
12:18AM ( 36 minutes ago )
Parade of pitchers not a merry-go-round for Dodgers
More was not merrier for Los Angeles Dodgers pitchers
12:09AM ( 45 minutes ago )
Bad Bunny, Daddy Yankee top Billboard Latin Music Awards
Bad Bunny and Daddy Yankee triumphed at the Billboard Latin Music Awards Wednesday, claiming seven trophies apiece at the pandemic-delayed show
11:59PM ( 55 minutes ago )