Election Update: August 3, 2020

90 Days To Go; Race Shows Stability. Is Ohio In Play?

Not much change in the presidential race in the past week. Some polls seems to indicate a slight tightening of the race on the national level, but Biden still has an average lead of high single digits. No states moved this week. The tossups remain the same: Texas, Georgia, North Carolina, Iowa and Ohio. I’d put Florida and Maine’s 2nd district there too.

We have more evidence that Ohio, once a pivotal swing state, might actually be in play. Ohio swung hard to the right in 2016, with Trump winning the state by 8. The biggest confirmation though was that the GOP won all the statewide races in 2018, despite a Democratic wave, except for the Senate race, in which Sen. Sherrod Brown won reelection, but by a tighter than expected margin.

So is Ohio really in play? Probably. If Trump is truly losing some of his support with working class whites, that will manifest in Ohio. The Buckeye State has less leftward-trending suburbs that other states, with only the Columbus area, and some parts of the Cincinnati area trending to the left (Cincinnati’s blue-trending suburbs are mostly in Kentucky). It also has a larger Democratic-to-Republican bloc of voters with the trend unmistakable in the Ohio and Mahoning valleys but the trend in Columbus and Cincinnati could overwhelm a slowing rightward trend elsewhere in the state if Trump is indeed losing support with his base.

I expect if this was 2008, Ohio would be more like Wisconsin or Pennsylvania right now and be leaning Democratic, so the fact that it is considered a tossup in a political reality where Biden holds a huge lead is indicative of its drift rightward. It isn’t going to be the 270th vote – that will probably be Pennsylvania or Wisconsin, both of which are leaning Biden right now. Ohio will be blue only if Biden is well over 300 electoral votes.

I expect Ohio will go to Trump in the end – the trends there favor him only slightly, and Democrats have better targets in North Carolina and Arizona, but we’ll see. Certainly if Ohio ends up being a COVID-19 epidemic of its own before November, then all bets are off, and though Republican Gov. Mike DeWine has been praised for his response and took a more measured approach to reopening, he did waffle on masks and other mitigation.

Also, please stop fretting over whether or not Biden will choose a running mate soon. Typically running mates are chosen on the eve of the convention (which is normally in July for the party out of power), but the Democratic National Convention doesn’t start until Aug. 17. It is still too early traditionally for Biden to choose a running mate, and I say that as someone who encourage him to pick Kamala Harris the day she dropped out last December.


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