How did Trump come so close to winning in 2020 given the macro circumstances? (user search)
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  How did Trump come so close to winning in 2020 given the macro circumstances? (search mode)
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Author Topic: How did Trump come so close to winning in 2020 given the macro circumstances?  (Read 4873 times)
LBJer
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Posts: 1,642
« 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
Jr. Member
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Posts: 1,642
« Reply #1 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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LBJer
Jr. Member
***
Posts: 1,642
« Reply #2 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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LBJer
Jr. Member
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Posts: 1,642
« Reply #3 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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LBJer
Jr. Member
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Posts: 1,642
« Reply #4 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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