There are two weeks and a few days until the date of the US election and the night on which the winner who will traditionally lead the US administration for the next four years is traditionally announced. Voting, however, has already begun to be cast by voters – even in record numbers – and given the importance of postal voting in the midst of a pandemic election, a winner’s declaration could be postponed until mid-to or late November. , depending on the duration of the counting of all relevant votes. Of course, depending on the post-election strategies of the candidates, especially in the context in which incumbent President Donald Trump has repeatedly refused to declare that he will admit defeat in any circumstances and has campaigned hard to challenge by ballot, which he says is being rigged by Democrats, the election could be challenged – with unpredictable consequences. As candidates prepare to enter the last hundred meters in the campaign, it’s time to clarify some key issues for understanding the coming weeks: what opinion polls look like, what chances Donald Trump has to stay in the White House, and in the event that he will do, where could his success come from?

A growing advance

Joe Biden leads the United States polls – a headline repeatedly given in recent months by media around the world. Much more important, however, is the nature of the advantage Biden had in the polls, the key word being “consistency”. As several political commentators have noted recently, the 2020 election race can be defined by its remarkable stability when it comes to polls, with none of the candidates unaware, for example, of the traditional leap enjoyed by US presidential polls immediately after which are confirmed by their parties in national conventions. In early May, shortly after Bernie Sanders, Biden’s main opponent within the Democratic Party, withdrew from the race, automatically making the former vice president nominated for Democrats for the White House, he had an advance of 6.1% ahead of Trump nationally, according to the FiveThirtyEight average among most national polls. Biden’s advance has only increased since then: 10.5% on October 15, according to the aggregation of the cited center; 9.8%, according to the aggregation made by Real Clear Politics. In 2016, on the same date, Hillary Clinton had an average lead of 5.3 percentage points in national polls.

Of course, the polls used to reach the quoted averages are those conducted at the national level, and the American elections are not decided by the national popular vote, but by the electoral college. In other words, Trump could find more reason for hope when it comes to polls conducted in key states to get the 270 votes in the electoral college needed for victory. The news is not good here either. Biden leads 2.3% in Florida, 3.5% in Arizona and 3.7% in North Carolina, according to the aggregation by The Guardian. In Ohio, Trump has an advance of 1.7%, and the 1.2% advance he has in Iowa, a state he won in 2016, is so small that it can be considered, at this point, that the two candidates are tied. The really bad news comes from the states that brought Trump victory in 2016: Michigan (Biden leads with 7.9%), Wisconsin (Biden leads with 7.5%) and Pennsylvania (Biden leads with 6.2%) . As an analysis shows Vox, if Trump does not win in any of these three states, he has no chance of reaching the 270 votes, except for the scenario, very unlikely, in which he would manage to win in states considered safe by Democrats.

How and why Trump can win

Someone eager to jump to conclusions in a climate of uncertainty or someone who has lost all memories of the fall of 2016 might say that things are clear: Joe Biden will end his long political career in the Oval Office. Here, however, are five ways in which (or why) Trump could, however, turn the fate of the election to the last hundred meters.

(1) Polls are deeply wrong

This idea and the corresponding anxieties it gives rise to among Democrats was born, raised and forged based on the experience of 2016. There are some general remarks for which polls should be viewed, within certain limits, with a dose of skepticism. Ultimately, making predictions about who will actually go to the polls is a challenge for opinion polls conducted for any round of elections in a democracy with a large enough population. In 2016, for example, a significant number of opinion polls underestimated the number of uneducated white voters who came to the polls to vote for Trump. Some publications as well New York Times, calculates that Biden’s lead in the polls in key states (especially in the so-called Midwestern Trio: Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin) is so high that no survey errors as large as those of 2016 would it meant that Biden would lose those states.

However, there are at least two additional issues to the general problems of conducting opinion polls specific to 2020. First, many Americans are preparing to use voting by mail for the first time, a process that, despite the often delusional accusations of Donald Trump and the conservative press, has a high degree of security against fraud. This does not mean, however, that no problems can arise. With a Republican Party generally skeptical of the merits of voting by mail, especially given that the majority of those who said in polls that they would choose this way to vote are Biden voters, Republican representatives in the vote count will fight for each vote – and the procedures that some first-time voters will face and the rigorous form requirements could give them a chance to challenge the validity of a significant number of ballots. In addition, amid measures taken to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, which has once again begun to grow in the United States, many voters may not be able to vote on election day – many polling stations will have fewer staff than optimal and, more importantly, the number of sections in certain geographical areas could be significantly lower than in other elections.

(2) Another campaign surprise at the end of October

In 2016, just 11 days before the election, FBI Chief James Comey announced that the institution he leads reopens the investigation into how Hillary Clinton used a private e-mail service while serving as secretary of office. state. The press exploded, dominating all television and publications for the next week and giving Trump a theme to cling to. Another similar event could take place in the coming weeks. Such an effort has already taken place, with Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, at the forefront. He claims to have found on the hard drive of an abandoned laptop discovered by someone in a Delaware repair shop an April 2015 e-mail proving that Biden’s son Hunter had trafficked influence, setting up a meeting between his father, then vice president of the United States, and a representative of the Ukrainian company Burisma for which Hunter Biden worked.

Described by the conservative press as a great leak of information attesting to the dirty business of the Biden family in Ukraine, the subject seems to have been quickly lost, especially given the suspicious nature of Giuliani’s so-called evidence and the fact that, ultimately, the text does not prove that the meeting actually took place, being rather vague. So far, the only notable thing Giuliani’s “great discovery” publication has done is to spark a new conflict between Trump and Twitter. On the other hand, Trump promised that more, much more conclusive evidence would come in the coming days about the Biden family’s so-called “dirty business” in Eastern Europe. If the words of the American president are substantiated, then it may be the mouth of oxygen expected by the Trump campaign.

(3) A glorious performance in the last debate

The first Trump-Biden debate did not go very well for the incumbent president. Agitated, constantly interrupting his opponent, Trump refused to condemn a far-right group and showed perhaps his greatest electoral vulnerability: the way he handled the COVID-19 pandemic. The result was also seen in polls. On Sept. 29, the day of the debate, FiveThirtyEight averaged 7.1 percentage points in Biden’s polls ahead of Trump. Since then, the advance has increased by more than 3 percentage points. After becoming infected with SARS-CoV-2, proclaimed to have “learned a lot about the virus” during his time in hospital and being cured, Trump declined to participate in a second debate with Biden after insisting it be online. A major tactical mistake on the part of Trump, according to most analysts. Instead, the two replaced the debate with a parallel dialogue with voters, where Trump refused to condemn those who propagate the QAnon conspiracy theory, and Biden pleaded guilty to the 1994 criminal law. to the mass incarceration of African Americans.

The next and final presidential debate will take place on 22 October. It is perhaps Trump’s last chance to launch a coherent attack on Biden, to strengthen his electoral base, in a slight decline, to convince the Republicans who do not like him that it is, however, the best option and to try to convince as many undecided people as possible to vote for him. A blunder by Joe Biden, famous for his escapes, could be the heavenly hand.