How did Trump come so close to winning in 2020 given the macro circumstances?
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  How did Trump come so close to winning in 2020 given the macro circumstances?
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Author Topic: How did Trump come so close to winning in 2020 given the macro circumstances?  (Read 4867 times)
MT Treasurer
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« Reply #25 on: September 04, 2023, 12:48:39 PM »

The macro circumstances were favoring Republicans (esp. in the wake of riots and excessive COVID restrictions pushed by Democrats) and any competent R President would have won the election by ~3 points in the PV. Like in 2016 (and in 2024 if it does happen again), the fact that Trump "overperformed" the polls was a sign not of his unique strength as a candidate but of how R-friendly the underlying fundamentals were.

The idea that the riots in particular helped Democrats is laughably absurd. Any Republican with a modicum of campaign skill would have taken a page out of Richard Nixon's playbook on that one.
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DaleCooper
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« Reply #26 on: September 04, 2023, 12:52:52 PM »

Democrats went all in on race-baiting, which I am convinced is one of the most unpopular things a political party can do these days. Biden probably would've increased his lead by a good 2% at least if not for the left's suicidal embrace of Ibram Kendi style commentary on race.
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President Johnson
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« Reply #27 on: September 04, 2023, 01:20:15 PM »

This is really testimony the Electoral College needs to go. It's always being said Trump "came close to winning the 2020 election" despite the fact he was clobbered by seven million votes. It wasn't close in the actual sense, just the Electoral College. He could indeed have "won" despite losing by 6.9 million if you switch a few votes in the right place.
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The Economy is Getting Worse
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« Reply #28 on: September 04, 2023, 04:21:47 PM »

The macro circumstances were favoring Republicans (esp. in the wake of riots and excessive COVID restrictions pushed by Democrats) and any competent R President would have won the election by ~3 points in the PV. Like in 2016 (and in 2024 if it does happen again), the fact that Trump "overperformed" the polls was a sign not of his unique strength as a candidate but of how R-friendly the underlying fundamentals were.

The idea that the riots in particular helped Democrats is laughably absurd. Any Republican with a modicum of campaign skill would have taken a page out of Richard Nixon's playbook on that one.
I'm not sure how a Republican President should expect to win the popular vote by 3 points when the economy is that bad. McCain faced higher economic growth (0.12% in 2008 and -2.60% in 2009 versus -2.77% in 2020) and lost worse.
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« Reply #29 on: September 05, 2023, 05:01:15 PM »

This is really testimony the Electoral College needs to go. It's always being said Trump "came close to winning the 2020 election" despite the fact he was clobbered by seven million votes. It wasn't close in the actual sense, just the Electoral College. He could indeed have "won" despite losing by 6.9 million if you switch a few votes in the right place.

It's dishonest to put "won" in scare quotes here.  Winning the EC is winning, period.

Let's imagine I'm playing chess, and my opponent is materially up on me by a rook and a bishop.  I manage to checkmate my opponent's king anyway.  Who won?  I did.  My opponent might try to claim some sort of moral victory because they were ahead in material, but I don't care about that.  Because I won.  The game is played to checkmate, and the game is not played to material.  If the game were played to material, I would rethink my strategies and beat my opponent anyway.

Trump won in 2016, and it was close.  If the standard for winning had been the popular vote, Trump and Clinton would have shot for that, and Trump would have won closely anyway.

Trump lost in 2020, and it was close.  If the standard had been the popular vote, both sides would have tried for that, and Trump would have still lost closely.

What I'm trying to tell you is that the national popular vote tells you less than you think it does, because neither side in a presidential contest is making it their #1 priority to maximize their national popular vote.
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Sol
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« Reply #30 on: September 09, 2023, 12:48:32 PM »

I think the riots and a lack of response to them from Democratic Mayors and Governors as well as Defund the Police hurt the Democrats too, and I think it does explain the few instances of Biden winning certain counties for President while the GOP won downticket.

The fact that people keep pushing this narrative despite everyone having lived through 2020 is really disconcerting.

Overall the public sentiment for most of 2020 was generally very sympathetic to BLM since police in most places brutally attacked protestors, and Trump was seen as generally egging on racist thugs and mass violence. There were large BLM protests in Eastern Kentucky; Utah changed the name of a state university. There was a large but sadly temporary shift in public opinion on race relations and police violence. Results like this just don't make sense unless you remember that.



The protests and uprisings around the murder of George Floyd and police violence in general definitely hurt Democrats in some places--Kenosha is the obvious one. But that doesn't erase the reality of public opinion at the time.

Ultimately it feels like this is all being memory holed, because we're now in a period of intense backlash to BLM, but we should not allow this stuff to cloud our analysis as psephologists.
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« Reply #31 on: September 09, 2023, 10:36:16 PM »

To Sol's point, Trump ran on a platform of criminal justice reform. I think this ultimately hurt him because it de-energized his base while picking up too few new voters, but the median voter was extremely pro-reform in the summer and still pro-reform in the fall, and everyone knew it at the time.
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Pericles
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« Reply #32 on: September 11, 2023, 08:01:26 PM »

Covid was a different kind of economic crisis to the GFC. It did not cause much financial hardship until the supply chain disruptions ended up leading to price impacts 1-2 years later.

Across the world, the pandemic in 2020 and 2021 created a dynamic that strongly favored incumbents. If Trump had not gone full Covid denier and failed to measure up to expected crisis leadership, he absolutely would have won.

I do think Democrats overstepped politically on criminal justice (though as pointed out, Trump's BLM position was also unpopular and seen as causing unrest). However, in hindsight Trump's approval was strong enough despite everything that a Biden +8% landslide wasn't really on the cards. A bit of a safer margin in the swing states and an extra Senate seat would have been nice though.
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LBJer
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« Reply #33 on: September 12, 2023, 12:00:25 AM »

This is really testimony the Electoral College needs to go. It's always being said Trump "came close to winning the 2020 election" despite the fact he was clobbered by seven million votes. It wasn't close in the actual sense, just the Electoral College. He could indeed have "won" despite losing by 6.9 million if you switch a few votes in the right place.

What I'm trying to tell you is that the national popular vote tells you less than you think it does, because neither side in a presidential contest is making it their #1 priority to maximize their national popular vote.

This argument has been made many times (almost invariably by Republicans, at least in modern times, who coincidentally just happen to be the ones who have lost the popular vote when there's been a PV/EV split), and I find it very unimpressive--indeed, downright lame. 

The sports analogies are very flawed at best.  First of all, chess pieces, footballs, baseballs etc. are not people.  They don't have minds of their own.  They are solely governed by the players of the game, whereas people are not required to vote based on what kind of campaigns politicians run or whether or not the politicians are specifically trying to win their vote.  Secondly, one can easily argue that obtaining the most popular votes carries a certain moral weight, irrespective of whether it determines the outcome of the election or whether the candidates are trying to win it or not.  This is not the case for coming up on top in an aspect of a sports game that doesn't determine the outcome. 

Another thing is that we don't apply the logic of this argument in other contexts.  Presidential candidates will campaign day after day in battleground states like Pennsylvania and Georgia.  They won't campaign at all in Idaho or Maryland, because the outcome in those states is preordained.  Yet no one argues that this means the popular vote in Idaho and Maryland is somehow a less authentic expression of the will of the people of these states than the popular vote in Pennsylvania and Georgia is of the people in those.  Why then should we employ this logic regarding the national popular vote?

And if NEITHER side is trying to win the national popular vote, can't one argue that it actually means just as much regarding the will of the people as it would if BOTH sides were trying to win it? 
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LBJer
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« Reply #34 on: September 12, 2023, 12:02:48 AM »
« Edited: September 12, 2023, 12:56:43 AM by LBJer »

This is really testimony the Electoral College needs to go. It's always being said Trump "came close to winning the 2020 election" despite the fact he was clobbered by seven million votes. It wasn't close in the actual sense, just the Electoral College. He could indeed have "won" despite losing by 6.9 million if you switch a few votes in the right place.


Trump won in 2016, and it was close.  If the standard for winning had been the popular vote, Trump and Clinton would have shot for that, and Trump would have won closely anyway.

Trump lost in 2020, and it was close.  If the standard had been the popular vote, both sides would have tried for that, and Trump would have still lost closely.


Both of these claims are completely unproven speculation, not fact.  The 2020 election was NOT close in the national popular vote, at least not by U.S. presidential election standards.  If you say that Trump would have still only narrowly lost it if it was determined by popular vote, you're arguing that Trump would have been considerably more successful in maximizing his popular vote than Biden.  I see no evidence this would have been the case.
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Avelaval
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« Reply #35 on: September 12, 2023, 08:07:50 PM »

This is really testimony the Electoral College needs to go. It's always being said Trump "came close to winning the 2020 election" despite the fact he was clobbered by seven million votes. It wasn't close in the actual sense, just the Electoral College. He could indeed have "won" despite losing by 6.9 million if you switch a few votes in the right place.


Trump won in 2016, and it was close.  If the standard for winning had been the popular vote, Trump and Clinton would have shot for that, and Trump would have won closely anyway.

Trump lost in 2020, and it was close.  If the standard had been the popular vote, both sides would have tried for that, and Trump would have still lost closely.


Both of these claims are completely unproven speculation, not fact.  The 2020 election was NOT close in the national popular vote, at least not by U.S. presidential election standards.  If you say that Trump would have still only narrowly lost it if it was determined by popular vote, you're arguing that Trump would have been considerably more successful in maximizing his popular vote than Biden.  I see no evidence this would have been the case.

But you also see no evidence that it wouldn't have been the case.  If you had such evidence you would have brought it up in order to properly refute me :-) .
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LBJer
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« Reply #36 on: September 12, 2023, 08:21:36 PM »

This is really testimony the Electoral College needs to go. It's always being said Trump "came close to winning the 2020 election" despite the fact he was clobbered by seven million votes. It wasn't close in the actual sense, just the Electoral College. He could indeed have "won" despite losing by 6.9 million if you switch a few votes in the right place.


Trump won in 2016, and it was close.  If the standard for winning had been the popular vote, Trump and Clinton would have shot for that, and Trump would have won closely anyway.

Trump lost in 2020, and it was close.  If the standard had been the popular vote, both sides would have tried for that, and Trump would have still lost closely.


Both of these claims are completely unproven speculation, not fact.  The 2020 election was NOT close in the national popular vote, at least not by U.S. presidential election standards.  If you say that Trump would have still only narrowly lost it if it was determined by popular vote, you're arguing that Trump would have been considerably more successful in maximizing his popular vote than Biden.  I see no evidence this would have been the case.

But you also see no evidence that it wouldn't have been the case.  If you had such evidence you would have brought it up in order to properly refute me :-) .

The initial burden of proof is on the person making a claim, not on those skeptical of the claim. 
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Avelaval
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« Reply #37 on: September 12, 2023, 08:51:32 PM »


The initial burden of proof is on the person making a claim, not on those skeptical of the claim. 

You bear the burden of proof for this claim; I am skeptical of it.
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LBJer
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« Reply #38 on: September 12, 2023, 09:20:19 PM »


The initial burden of proof is on the person making a claim, not on those skeptical of the claim. 

You bear the burden of proof for this claim; I am skeptical of it.

This is not a claim--it's the rules of evidence as practiced both formally (in the case of the law, for example, with the initial burden being on the prosecution) and more informally (in the case of debates in science, history, and other rational disciplines).  You stated that Trump would have narrowly lost to Biden if the election had been decided by popular vote.  You provided no evidence for this claim, yet you stated it as though it were a fact.  It is quite reasonable for me (or others) to ask you to provide evidence for this assertion. 
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Avelaval
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« Reply #39 on: September 12, 2023, 09:53:35 PM »
« Edited: September 12, 2023, 10:03:29 PM by Inverted Things »


The initial burden of proof is on the person making a claim, not on those skeptical of the claim.  

You bear the burden of proof for this claim; I am skeptical of it.

This is not a claim--it's the rules of evidence as practiced both formally (in the case of the law, for example, with the initial burden being on the prosecution) and more informally (in the case of debates in science, history, and other rational disciplines).  You stated that Trump would have narrowly lost to Biden if the election had been decided by popular vote.  You provided no evidence for this claim, yet you stated it as though it were a fact.  It is quite reasonable for me (or others) to ask you to provide evidence for this assertion.  

Look, this is an internet forum.  It's not debate class.  It's not an academic journal.  It's not a courtroom.

Something about my viewpoint really rubbed you the wrong way, and that's fine.  That happens.  I'm pretty sure of my viewpoint that if Trump and Biden had both really tried for the popular vote, it would have been a narrow Biden win.

(You want evidence?  Fine:  How about the recent poll that showed Trump with a big lead among unlikely voters?  If both sides really try to juice the popular vote, some of those unlikely voters end up actually becoming voters.)

(More evidence?  How about the fact that the tipping point swung about 1.3% from 2016 -> 2020, while the national popular vote swung 2.4%?  The places where both sides were really trying to win were "stickier" in their vote -- harder to persuade for Biden)

(More evidence?  Most of the high-turnout states were blue in 2020; most of the low-turnout states were pretty red -- looks like under a PV system, there'd be a lot more new votes from red states.  Possible they'd be blue votes, of course, but I'm more inclined to believe it'd favor the Republicans on balance)

Anyway I'm here, in part, because there are a lot of folks here with well-considered viewpoints (both that I agree with and that I disagree with).  Exposure to those viewpoints helps me to refine my own.  I want evidence that will challenge my viewpoint.  That's why I tried to goad you into giving me some.  My challenge still stands.
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LBJer
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« Reply #40 on: September 12, 2023, 11:19:09 PM »
« Edited: September 13, 2023, 05:19:38 AM by LBJer »


The initial burden of proof is on the person making a claim, not on those skeptical of the claim.  

You bear the burden of proof for this claim; I am skeptical of it.

This is not a claim--it's the rules of evidence as practiced both formally (in the case of the law, for example, with the initial burden being on the prosecution) and more informally (in the case of debates in science, history, and other rational disciplines).  You stated that Trump would have narrowly lost to Biden if the election had been decided by popular vote.  You provided no evidence for this claim, yet you stated it as though it were a fact.  It is quite reasonable for me (or others) to ask you to provide evidence for this assertion.  

Look, this is an internet forum.  It's not debate class.  It's not an academic journal.  It's not a courtroom.

Something about my viewpoint really rubbed you the wrong way, and that's fine.  That happens.  I'm pretty sure of my viewpoint that if Trump and Biden had both really tried for the popular vote, it would have been a narrow Biden win.

(You want evidence?  Fine:  How about the recent poll that showed Trump with a big lead among unlikely voters?  If both sides really try to juice the popular vote, some of those unlikely voters end up actually becoming voters.)

(More evidence?  How about the fact that the tipping point swung about 1.3% from 2016 -> 2020, while the national popular vote swung 2.4%?  The places where both sides were really trying to win were "stickier" in their vote -- harder to persuade for Biden)

(More evidence?  Most of the high-turnout states were blue in 2020; most of the low-turnout states were pretty red -- looks like under a PV system, there'd be a lot more new votes from red states.  Possible they'd be blue votes, of course, but I'm more inclined to believe it'd favor the Republicans on balance)

Anyway I'm here, in part, because there are a lot of folks here with well-considered viewpoints (both that I agree with and that I disagree with).  Exposure to those viewpoints helps me to refine my own.  I want evidence that will challenge my viewpoint.  That's why I tried to goad you into giving me some.  My challenge still stands.

This may not be a "debate class," but it is a place where debates take place all the time.  Moreover, you didn't just say "I think this...", something that in and of itself does not warrant a demand for evidence.  Instead, you not only stated your opinion as if it were a fact, you argued that someone else (President Johnson) was wrong.  And you made very specific claims.  Under these circumstances, it's not unreasonable to ask you to put forward evidence on your part.

As to your first point: Yes, more of the unlikely voters may (note I say "may" not "would") have voted.  But the same can be said of moderately likely/somewhat likely voters.  It's far from clear that Trump would have the net advantage here.

As to your second point: the smaller change in the battleground states doesn't demonstrate that Biden inherently had a harder time persuading people than Trump.  It could simply mean that people in these regions were split more evenly in their support beforehand than Americans as a whole.

As to your third point, just because a state is "high turnout" doesn't mean it's turnout can't go even higher.  If one state had 30% turnout and another had 60%, and the turnout in both was increased by 10%, you'd have 33% vs 66% turnout--a wash.  There's no obvious reason why this couldn't have happened.

Anyway, all of this is speculation because we have no idea how successful nationwide voter turnout efforts would be.  But the fact that the candidates weren't trying to win the popular vote doesn't make that vote "meaningless"--at least in a symbolic sense.
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MARGINS6729
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« Reply #41 on: December 22, 2023, 11:08:47 PM »

-Biden was an establishment candidate who didn't excite the Democratic base, just like Hillary was. His main selling point was that he was not Trump, just like Hillary.
-Democrats drastically reduced in-person campaigning as a result of the pandemic, while Republicans largely maintained their usual levels of in-person campaigning (indeed, exit polls showed that Trump won voters who decided their vote in October or later).

Yup. You could also argue that Trump wasn't really blamed for the economy as it was a result of a worldwide pandemic. Sure, he handled the health crisis extremely poorly, but the economy would have tanked under any administration. That was also the case in other countries with competent leaders.

Definitely- I think the principal of Americans not voting out a President during wartime applied to Trump after COVID and the lockdowns/defund the police hurt Democrats more than people thought.
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MARGINS6729
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« Reply #42 on: December 22, 2023, 11:10:42 PM »

Because Dems keep underestimating the guy. After he won in 2016 they should have learned not to treat the election like a done deal. They did a better job in 2020, but Biden still overestimated his lead and as a result Trump almost won again. The craziest part is they still underestimate Donald J. Trump after 2016 and 2020!

Democrats worked really hard to stop Trump in the three Rustbelt states but got lazy with Latinos.
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Clarko95 📚💰📈
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« Reply #43 on: December 25, 2023, 08:24:06 AM »
« Edited: December 25, 2023, 09:20:54 AM by Clarko95 📚💰📈 »

I think the polarization argument carries the most water. Sure, things like handling the pandemic and the economy or whatever make a difference at the margins (which could indeed change the outcome of an election!), but fundamentally every election from 2000 until now has been a 50-50 election, with the only exception being 2008.

And 2008 is a great example of this polarization, because Obama's victory that year was underwhelming when compared to the 20th century. People are so intensely dug into their respective camps and highly motivated by hatred/fear of the other side. Huge numbers of people hated and still do hate both Biden and Trump, and yet voted for them anyways in 2020 and will do so again in 2024.

And the United States is not the only country experiencing this same dynamic, and this is not the first time that we have experienced this intense polarization.
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« Reply #44 on: December 25, 2023, 10:29:16 AM »

The Rust Belt trio?: Trump hard stances on China and partly The Wall
Arizona/Georgia: What did you expect?
Hispanic voters?: The worst fears on Trump dissapeared and Trump rethoric appealed to latino social conservatives.

I think that BLM protests could have helped Trump if he managed better the Proud Boys question.
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