There’s a simple reason why no one really wants to say Donald Trump is going to lose the U.S. presidential election in 2020.
Because no one really got it right in 2016.
I’m one of the many who got it wrong. Never saw it coming. And I was close enough to the action to know better.
I’ve helped the Democrats for years and was again proudly working for Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton in 2016. As a foreign national, I couldn’t donate to her campaign or get paid. But I could volunteer for her and did – in Maine and New Hampshire, and at her Brooklyn headquarters.
We had more money. We had better people. We had organization. We had ideas galore. We had experienced campaign managers. And we had the best candidate: a former secretary of state, a former senator, a former first lady and accomplished lawyer. We had it all.
Our opponent was a joke. Trump was caught on tape proclaiming that he “grabbed [women] by the pussy.” He refused to release his taxes – because, we suspected (correctly), he hadn’t paid his fair share. He was an unapologetic racist, calling Mexicans drug dealers and rapists, and pledging to bar Muslims from entering the United States.
And he denigrated captured war heroes like John McCain, who was being tortured in Vietnam right around the time Trump was dodging the draft and chasing escorts around New York City.
We couldn’t lose – or so we thought. For months, every national poll showed us far ahead of Trump. The politicians and the pundits all were convinced we’d win.
Even though Clinton got three million more votes than Trump, the United States’ byzantine electoral college system produced a perverse, and shocking, result: the narrowest of victories for Trump. Because slightly more than 70,000 votes went the wrong way in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, Trump bested Clinton in the electoral college.
Could it happen again?
It could. It might.
A characteristic of Trump’s core vote, those of us on Clinton’s team later learned, is that they’re older and tend to hide from pollsters in the lead-up to voting day. And then they come out to vote, en masse.
Trump was assisted, too, by Bernie Sanders in 2016. Sanders repeatedly demonized Clinton as corrupt and a captive of Wall Street – thereby suppressing the Democratic youth vote.
The clueless, witless FBI director also helped kill Clinton’s momentum when it hurt the most, with a bogus and needless probe of some emails.
And, finally, white suburban women – who we thought would be repulsed by Trump – voted against their self-interest and for a ‘man’ who bragged about sexual assault.
Four years later, and with three weeks to go until voting day on Nov. 3, none of that applies anymore. For Trump, the political landscape is radically different.
COVID-19 has sickened or killed many of Trump’s most loyal supporters – white, retired seniors. Poll after poll shows that older Americans have abandoned Trump because they’re appalled by his mismanagement of the pandemic, which has killed 215,000 Americans. Seniors are mostly lining up behind the Democrats’ Joe Biden.
Sanders, meanwhile, has a far better relationship with Biden than he did with Clinton. As a result, Sanders has urged his youthful supporters to rally behind Biden – and they have.
This time, there’s no manufactured scandal swirling around the Democratic presidential nominee. Trump tried to get one going in Ukraine against Biden and his son, of course. But that only resulted in Trump’s impeachment – and Biden winning the Democratic nomination in a walk.
Finally, white suburban women long ago abandoned Trump, fed up with his sexism and misogyny, and payoffs to porn stars. Biden’s massive national polling lead has been fuelled, for the most part, by female voters.
But that’s the polls. Is Biden winning on the ground, where it counts?
This time, I’m doing phone banking – calling registered voters to identify the vote and to get out the vote. I’ve called hundreds of residents of New England states, asking how they’ve marked their absentee ballots.
And this is how many have told me they’ve voted for Donald Trump:
None of them.
Warren Kinsella is a Canadian journalist, political adviser and commentator.