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What Looks Like a Landslide May End Up Being a 'Mirage'

Analytics firm says Trump could have big lead at first, then lose when mail ballots are counted
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 1, 2020 11:44 AM CDT

(Newser) – President Trump might well have a huge lead over Joe Biden when election night 2020 comes to a close, but that doesn't mean he'll win. A Democratic analytics firm warns Axios of what it calls a "red mirage" on Nov. 3. The issue is that most Republicans are expected to vote in person, and those votes will be tallied immediately. But far more Democrats than Republicans are expected to vote by mail, and it could take days or longer to count those ballots. "We are sounding an alarm and saying that this is a very real possibility, that the data is going to show on election night an incredible victory for Donald Trump," says Hawkfish CEO Josh Mendelsohn. But days later, it could become clear that Trump's "victory" was instead a "mirage." More:

  • For example: In one scenario, Trump could be up 408-130 in electoral votes with 15% of the mail ballots counted on election night. A few days later, with 75% of mail ballots counted, Biden could take the lead.

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  • Good for Biden: Even after the conventions, the state of the race hasn't changed all that much in battleground states, per Morning Consult. The big exception is Arizona, where Biden went from trailing by 2 points to leading by 10, according to the pollster. The state hasn't voted Democratic in a presidential race since 1996.
  • Good for Trump: The president has the potential to pull off an upset in Minnesota, a state he nearly won in 2016, reports Politico. Biden leads in the state (Real Clear Politics has him up by 5 points), but both sides say the race is tightening. The key for Trump lies in boosting turnout in rural areas. The state has an estimated quarter-million white, non-college-educated men, which could be fertile ground for the president.
  • Potential trouble: Trump seems to be losing ground among people who backed him in 2016, reports the Los Angeles Times. It cites a USC Dornsife Daybreak Poll that found the president has lost support from about 9% of such voters.
  • Conventions: "Independents who lean toward the Republican Party seem to have been temporarily swayed by Biden's message," Jill Darling, survey director for the USC Dornsife poll, tells the LAT. However, "Trump's dark view of the Democrats' agenda seems to have swept them back into the fold, so the overall result is pretty much a wash." As of Tuesday, the RCP average of polls had Biden up 6 points nationally.
(Read more Election 2020 stories.)

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