Welcome to this weekly update in the run-up to the US presidential election on November 3. With this week: Few changes in the polls, the hunt for the “infrequent voter” and Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, and more Pennsylvania.
Pressure on turnout and fear of voter intimidation
My name is Matthijs le Loux. I write about foreign news for Press and have been reporting on American politics since 2014. In this update I mainly deal with less obvious developments and ‘side paths’ and I share facts, interesting sources and short analyzes to give you more context. On other working days you can read a shorter edition with an overview of the election news until November 3.
It had been in the air for months, but the tail end of the campaign (with four days to go) confirms once again that all eyes are on Pennsylvania. That Rust Belt state, along with ‘eternal swing state’ Florida, has become the main arena of the presidential race.
Republicans there try to compensate for President Donald Trump’s backlog in the polls by, as they say, playing the referee. Republican MPs have rejected concessions to make the ‘pandemic elections’ run smoother and question the security and reliability of polls.
For NUweekend, I looked at the strategies that the Trump campaign and the Republicans are using to reduce voter turnout. In a state where the difference between victory and defeat in 2016 was only 44,000 votes, and where things are getting exciting again, these can make all the difference.
Those who can also play a decisive role are voters from the swing states who are fulfilling their democratic duty for the first time – or for the first time in a long time – this year. Both Republicans and Democrats have invested heavily in mobilizing that group. They are helped by deep political divisions: both sides portray the race as a battle for the ‘soul of America’. In addition, the most important election theme, the pandemic, is acutely felt in the daily lives of the vast majority of voters.
If you want to know whether that is successful, all you have to look at is the state that anyone will soon be able to spell the name of: Pennsylvania. from data From the Democratic affiliate data company TargetSmart, 27 percent of the 1.4 million registered Democrats who cast an early vote four years ago did not vote. The Republicans are not far behind, with 24 percent of the 424,000 early voters.
The picture is not much different elsewhere: a quarter of the more than 10 million voters who cast an early vote in fourteen swing states did not go to the polls in 2016.
Your regular information leaflet: polls are snapshots. Predicting final results based on polls is done at your own risk.
In the last week, we had to process a large load of polls, but they do not change the picture of recent months. That includes investigations conducted after the last presidential debate.
Biden still has a clear lead in the states won by Hillary Clinton in 2016 and in Michigan and Wisconsin, which narrowly went to Trump at the time. That would mean that the Democrat would need one more medium or large state to get his 270 electors. That will be more exciting, because his lead is smaller in the places that qualify for it, such as Florida, North Carolina or Pennsylvania.