The Weirdcast: How Trump is Sleepwalking To Victory — a Scenario
Forecasts have a beautiful subgenre: scenario planning and wargames. We sometimes imagine this: the worst case just happened and try to find a possible, but weird explanation, as the real world tends to be less realistic than our imagination allows.
The Weirdcast: For reality is not realistic.
What single argument could catapult Donald Trump towards victory in November? These days, he seems likely to lose; but there are substantial risks for Biden. Fivethirtyeight sees his odds at 74%, whereas other outlets have Biden at 90% and European media is somewhere past 95%. I have them at 50/50 — as of now. But as I’m about to show:
Things are likely to get better for Trump. And while usually such a statement is followed by a complex interplay of several factors, there’s one really simple point:
- 20% of the electorate put the economy above everything else (26 Million). Usually, 70% (18,2 million) of those voters vote Republican, back in March polls showed Trump lead with 63% (16.4 million) to 37% (9.6 million), and two weeks ago it was 50/50 (13 million each). That means that 5.2 million voters plan to switch sides. The number is rougly in line with polls showing that 5% (6.5 Million) of the electorate are Republicans who dislike Trump because of mediocre economic performance.
As infection numbers rise, so does the level of fear — and with that, the economy shrinks just like Trumps approval ratings. And vice versa: Before the pandemic hit the Bible belt, Trump was on an upward curve. If those 5 Million voters switch sides again, that’s 4 percentage points — in each direction. That evaporates Biden’s 8% lead in the polls.
Five Millions Voters Might Decide Everything. This Is What They Think.
Those are voters who looked at Trump in 2016, saw his flaws and decided that they are a neccessary evil they are willing to take if they get the economic policies they prefer.
“This vote will cost me your arm and your leg”, they said to their fellow Americans, “but that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make.”
And then, four years later, they were still supporting Trump — until the pandemic came and they concluded that his incompetence in dealing with it is harmful for the economy. They did not switch earlier. This is important, since this shows what level of dirty tricks they might be willing to accept from Trump. Let’s call the voters who switched to Biden for economic reasons “Republican Economic Refugees”, RER.
Hypothesis zero: At minus 8% compared to Biden, Trump has hit the bottom.
Those voters that still stuck with him despite everything that has happened are extremely likely to maintain their loyalty, no matter what. Consequently, Trump can concentrate completely on winning those voters back. All tactics and lies are on the table; as long as it helps the economy.
Hypothesis one: Given the right incentive, they will return.
The five million RER will have some kind of breaking point at which they return to Trump. They are naturally aligned with his (none) policies, but they don’t like that he can’t handle Covid-19 and see no chance he ever will. However, given what we know, anyone of them might become a Defecting Republican Economic Refugee (DRER) as soon as they believe one of three things to be true, they will return:
- The pandemic problem is irrelevant enough for the economy
- Trumps crisis management is irrelevant enough for the pandemic
- The economy is recovering
Hypothesis two: Only a fraction of the five million RER are needed to swing the election.
Among those five million RER, only those in prospective swing states matter: 1.5m voters. And even of those, only a fraction is needed — just enough to swing the state: The first 300k to conclude that either one of those three phrases is true will seal the state.
Minnesota_____| B 52 / 47 T | 2.7m voters, 135k RER, __40k to swing
Pennsylvania__ | B 53 / 47 T | 6m voters, 300k RER, ____100k to swing
Florida. _______| B 51 / 48 T | 9.3m voters, 465k RER, __80k to swing
Arizona _______| B 50 / 50 T | 1.5m voters, 375k RER, __40k to swing
Nebraska 2nd __| B 50 / 49 T | 800k voters, 40k RER, ___5k to swing
North Carolina _| B 50 / 50 T |4.5m voters, 225k RER, __40k to swing
(I used the tipping point analyses published by fivethirtyeight)
Minnesota, Nebraska and Pennsylvania are northern (475k RER, 145k DRER) the others are southern (1065k RER, 160k DRER). I’m not an expert on those things, but I guess that the reasons for defecting back to Trump might be different in both regions. I would love to ask them and find out.
For what reason would you switch back to Trump, and what proof would you need?
Is it “A vaccine was found and will be distributed at a certain point in the future.”
or more? “A vaccine was found, tested in this region with reliable data. It was proven save and successful and will be distributed here on February 2nd.”
or less? “surely, there will be a vaccine soon. For the time being, we’ve reached a stable state and no other president could do anything else.”
What do you think? What level of uncertainty in terms of scenario and in terms of thurthfulness are those voters willing to accept?
Cheers and stay healthy :)